Case Study: Mobilizing a 100-Man Job in 24 Hours

Category: Articles
5 August 2015,

100-man jobRecently, we completed one of the most challenging projects – if not the most challenging project – that we’ve encountered over the past decade in our Knoxville office.

The job started out pretty straightforward. Our customer was taking down two rotary kilns for some routine maintenance – small repairs and gunning work in the kiln and fines chute. Based on the customer’s request, we scheduled a small crew for a single shift (12 hours) to handle the repairs. More than sufficient based on the initial scope-of-work.

But everything changed as soon as we got onsite and inspected the first kiln. The inspection revealed:

  • 50 additional feet of brick that needed to be replaced in the kiln
  • Work in the cooler where refractory was damaged from operational and mechanical abuse
  • Refractory repairs in the Charge Dam of the kiln
  • Extensive refractory repairs in the Dust Catcher

As we were assessing the new scope of work required, which was about 10 times the original estimate, the second unit was taken down. The inspection of kiln #2 revealed:

  • Substantial roof failure and refractory damage in the Dust Collector
  • Over 30 feet of brick needing replacement in the kiln

The real kicker was the customer could not afford a downtime of more than 48 hours. So we had just two days to mobilize all men, equipment and materials and complete the repairs! What we thought was a small job for 1 shift turned into the equivalent of 100 men (50 men for two 12-hour shifts).


Needless to say, this was a daunting task. One shift of work had become a week and a half worth of work that needed to be completed within 2 days. It was a monumental challenge (I felt like we were tasked with moving Mount Everest!).

We began working the phones immediately. Being a refractory contractor with multiple offices in several states with a unique database of skilled refractory craftsmen, three of our managers coordinated with each other in a 4-hour period to handle:

  • Logistics
  • Manpower
  • Equipment
  • Material
  • Parts
  • Consumables

To get material turned around in a single day, we leveraged long-standing relationships we have with numerous manufacturers, and called in a lot of favors. This job couldn’t have happened without that relationship capital.


We completed the work on time, the customer was ecstatic, and the results were excellent.

It was one the largest projects we’ve had to plan and complete on such short notice. It was very challenging, yet very rewarding.

Not every refractory contactor would, or can, undertake this challenge. But we didn’t see that we had a choice; it’s in our nature to overcome any challenge that occurs during downtime.

We pride ourselves in finding a way to get it done.

Comments are closed.