Article

Prioritizing Efficiencies With Prefabrication

Off-Site Services Save Time and Money for Airport Fueling Projects

BY Patrick Choudoir and Grant Smith
As airlines continue to rebound from a decline in revenue, finding ways to save time and money for new projects — like fuel truck loading and unloading — has been critical, and prefabrication can help.

Without efficient access to jet fuel, an airport would likely not be able to continue operating. The refueling process is an essential component of an aircraft’s limited time on the ground. Keeping the fuel supply stable and available is paramount.

One major component of maintaining a steady amount of aircraft fuel is the ability to seamlessly offload it at the airport. With so many what-ifs out there — like a disruption in pipeline delivery or decrease in available fuel via pipeline — an airport must have the proper equipment and infrastructure available to accommodate unforeseen obstacles. With recent supply chain challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks and extreme weather disruptions, it is increasingly essential to plan for the unexpected and be able to adapt quickly.

For example, if an airport is unable to receive its expected fuel delivery via pipeline, the next option would be to utilize over-the-road trucks, which require certain accommodations at the airport in order to offload fuel. The same goes for loading capabilities required to fill the associated refueler trucks as needed for airport operations.

As the aviation industry strives to rebound from the pandemic with reduced budgets and staff, there is a critical need to balance restoring safe operations with investments in more flexible and reliable infrastructure. To make new projects such as developing the infrastructure needed for fuel truck offloading a reality, the industry needs to find creative approaches to financing and overall operations.

Components involved in fuel truck offloading projects range from filtration systems and meters to pumps and pipes — most of which can be modularized and prefabricated in an off-site facility before being shipped to the project site, where it is quickly assembled and safely installed. From reducing costs to saving time, there are many benefits to utilizing prefabrication for such fueling projects:

 

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Without efficient access to jet fuel, an airport would likely not be able to continue operating. The refueling process is an essential component of an aircraft’s limited time on the ground. Keeping the fuel supply stable and available is paramount.

One major component of maintaining a steady amount of aircraft fuel is the ability to seamlessly offload it at the airport. With so many what-ifs out there — like a disruption in pipeline delivery or decrease in available fuel via pipeline — an airport must have the proper equipment and infrastructure available to accommodate unforeseen obstacles. With recent supply chain challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks and extreme weather disruptions, it is increasingly essential to plan for the unexpected and be able to adapt quickly.

For example, if an airport is unable to receive its expected fuel delivery via pipeline, the next option would be to utilize over-the-road trucks, which require certain accommodations at the airport in order to offload fuel. The same goes for loading capabilities required to fill the associated refueler trucks as needed for airport operations.

As the aviation industry strives to rebound from the pandemic with reduced budgets and staff, there is a critical need to balance restoring safe operations with investments in more flexible and reliable infrastructure. To make new projects such as developing the infrastructure needed for fuel truck offloading a reality, the industry needs to find creative approaches to financing and overall operations.

Components involved in fuel truck offloading projects range from filtration systems and meters to pumps and pipes — most of which can be modularized and prefabricated in an off-site facility before being shipped to the project site, where it is quickly assembled and safely installed. From reducing costs to saving time, there are many benefits to utilizing prefabrication for such fueling projects:

Quality and Consistency

The modularization process helps to shorten the learning curve and reduces the chance of new workers on a job site facing the task for the first time. In a fabrication shop, the workers become specialized in performing these job functions, leading to higher-quality work and a better final product for the client.

Additionally, as opposed to an outdoor job site with unpredictable weather conditions and other variables, the fabrication shop offers a climate-controlled area that provides more stable and consistent conditions for production. This helps protect elements like paint and other components from the environmental impacts of rain or freezing conditions during fabrication.

Safety

By shifting the work from the job site to a more controlled environment, prefabrication can reduce on-site labor by 75%, thus decreasing potential for safety incidents.

Considering that falls are a leading cause of injury — or even death — on a construction site, building the elements in a fabrication shop allows the work to be completed safely on the ground. Additionally, prefabrication allows fora reduced job site footprint and less equipment and machinery on-site.

Speed

The components used during the prefabrication process are all processed in a way that creates the most efficiency. This means that materials are premeasured and cut ahead of time to match exact specifications, rather than requiring modifications and adjustments during the fabrication process.

As mentioned, with prefabrication most weather unpredictability is eliminated. Because of this, the workers can continue their job without unexpected pauses or delays to the project schedule. Utilizing prefabrication shortens the development timeline and reduces on-site labor, significantly reducing costs that airlines and airports normally incur on fueling projects. Fuel facilities that may not have over-the-road truck offloading abilities, or those whose equipment is outdated and needs renovation, can partner with a trusted engineer-procure-construct firm that has fabrication capabilities to implement the required fueling upgrades in a way that saves money and time.

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2021 Special Report


Authors


Patrick Choudoir

Project Development Manager

Grant Smith

Commercial Fueling and Ramp Services Director