Multi-million USD capital project in execution phase of the piping part dismantling and installation while normal production process. An interference with adjacent duct system had been disclosed in an area inaccessible during project planning phase. After evaluation of the adjacent system backup I have decided to switch the adjacent system water supply to the backup ducting located out of our area of concern. Since it was a "standard" operational practice manipulation, I had decided to keep available contingency of project schedule and do not ask project sponsor and company management for an unplanned outage. When we had commenced to open the backup duct and simultaneously to close the interfering duct located at buildings roof, an immediate rupture created at the closing valve causing a huge waterfall almost jeopardizing adjacent valuable special refractory technological facilities with potential of explosion upon contact of water with produced liquid steel. Arisen situation tested maturity of our team. I had instructed my deputy to manage not standard water closing activities at the building roof while myself with two supervisors and couple workers hurried up to ground zero level to prevent accumulated water spilling into the valuable special refractory furnaces or to get into contact with liquid steel. Upon arrival under the waterfall I had directed one supervisor to monitor and report situation at the adjacent valuable furnace refractory technology and liquid steel operation. Observing more detail the site I had discovered a very old manhole. I sent the another supervisor to check its potential connection to the adjacent sewage. Upon his confirming of interconnection of this old manhole to the functional sewage I directed the workers to create a little temporary dam-like earthwork confining the further spillage of water and driving the water spillage into the discovered manhole. While our drainage activities at zero ground level, my deputy together with operators and contractors had successfully managed redirecting of whole water discharge comparable with Deadwood Idaho river into the backup duct-line located out of our workplace and stop the unwanted waterfall.
Keeping project progress according to planned schedule with minor effect on scope and budget contingency. Keeping the company bottom line untouched by an negative impact from our project. Achieving a strongest moment of "baking of a cake" of our team cohesion and "we-ness" attitude.
Inspite a thorough site investigation and existing as-built drawings review, we had not properly defined and incorporated the risk of an old corroded duct into our risk analyze. Thus we had not properly setup mitigation of a negative impact and or what if scenario. Our luck was the rising team cohesion which helped us to find and use advantages hidden within our workplace in that moment. My personal lessons learned are: - Watterfall helps to cool down the head and calm down, - An unexpected obstacle is accompanied by an unexpected alternative solution, - You can have a greatest plan, but game is not over, only commencing, so have a fun!!!