Major sports events — tournaments, playoffs, elimination games — brim with excitement and anticipation because, well, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
To complete a renovation of that same venue, the opposite is preferred: Owners need to know what’s happening with every product order, every procurement stage, every length of pipe.
This was the case when a major U.S. sports venue sought a new retractable roof for their facility. The stadium hosts an annual national tournament bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans — and the date is beyond set.
The stadium’s team needed a proven partner they could count on for a high level of stability, transparency and accuracy. They needed pipe delivered exactly to specification within strict construction deadlines. And if that supplier could find cost and time efficiencies while maintaining reliability, even better.
That’s just what we delivered for this major sports venue. Not as flashy as a walk-off home run or a buzzer beater, but efficiency, reliability and quality count for a lot on the scoreboard of these projects.
Sourcing pipe for a retractable roof structure
Retractable roofs are a popular addition for sports venues, allowing games to go on unencumbered by rain or snow. In this case, they added a retractable roof to the existing facility and engineered it as a stand-alone structure built over the stadium with supporting pipe all the way down to the base.
The project amounted to a $1.5 million order for 1,145 tons of pipe with the following needs:
- API 5L Gr.X52 PSL-2 grade pipe
- Specialized size and length requirements, ranging from 20”OD to 44”OD with special walls
- Charpy impact testing to ensure the overall safety, reliability and soundness of the structure
Additionally, because the pipe would be exposed as an architectural design component of the stadium, pristine surface quality of the pipe also needed to be maintained throughout transit. And finally, this high profile job had crucial deadlines to meet — otherwise, tournament scheduling would be put on hold, venue income would be lost and the facility reputation would be at risk.
American Piping Products won the bid because of competitive pricing, but our experience with similar projects gave the customer confidence in our ability to deliver, too. They had a comfort in knowing we could deliver on specifications and deadlines — and make the process smooth and cost-efficient.
A majority of the sizes and lengths of pipe required for this project were not standard, so we couldn’t pull them from our inventory. For this pipe order, we ensured quality by:
- Ordering pipe to the exact specified dimension. This way, the customer wouldn’t need to bring pipe into their shop and cut or weld them to the final lengths. Dialing in those exact lengths saved valuable time and resources for the client.
- Selecting a mill with a qualified track record. Just as our client took care in selecting their piping partner, we put due diligence in deciding which mill to work with. By taking this extra step, we knew the materials would arrive on-schedule and up to standards.
- Utilizing an overseas inspector to confirm quality before shipment. This was another above-and-beyond, on-the-ground way for us to ensure all order requirements were fulfilled before the pipe shipped from the mill. The inspector reported dimensional data for each pipe and confirmed surface quality met the customer’s needs.
Transportation efficiencies to cut $40,000
When pipe is ordered from overseas, traditionally it will get discharged from the vessel and then loaded onto trucks for transportation to our facility. From there, we offload the materials, complete all of the necessary paperwork, re-load everything onto the trucks and move it to the fabrication facility to undergo fabrication work for the customer’s end product.
Knowing time was of the essence, we asked ourselves: How can we streamline this part of the process without sacrificing quality control?
We landed on eliminating the step of moving the pipe through our facilities. Instead, when it hit the port, we loaded it onto a truck for direct transportation to the final fabrication facility. But removing that step didn’t mean removing quality control; we kept measures in place to handle documentation properly.
For a period of three weeks, one of our operations staff members set up shop at the port. They performed visual inspection to confirm the pipes arrived undamaged and that all the pieces were accounted for. They oversaw the port loading each of the trucks and handled all shipping paperwork on-site.
This eliminated the need to hire 70+ trucks to shuffle the pipe from the port to our facility and back out again. Because we didn’t have to handle the pipe multiple times, we saved the client around $40,000 in transportation costs — all while maintaining consistent quality control.
A communicative, deadline-oriented partner
A functional relationship with a pipe supplier hinges on procuring materials that meet the specifications. But the most successful relationships supply the correct pipe and put in the work to give the customer peace of mind throughout the process. Here’s how we created that successful partnership:
- Honoring deadlines as non-negotiable. The piping was issued in two orders: One placed in early May with delivery by the end of August, the other placed in early March with delivery by early July. Each four month lead time was treated as immutable. We worked with a mill partner that had a track record of meeting deadlines, checked in frequently on the status of the order to ensure nothing was off track — and delivered the pipe on time as requested.
- Coordinating documentation with precision and thoroughness. We have internal employees dedicated to handling all importation documentation, customs paperwork and coordination between shipping lines. They facilitate the entire process of importation and ensure everything runs smoothly and is properly documented.
- Updating the customer with status reports. Communication was at the forefront of the customer experience. A dedicated sales representative regularly provided updates for the client: When the raw steel had arrived at the mill, when the pipes had been tested, when the order had been shipped from overseas. By sharing this information, the customer knew their order was progressing as expected, schedules were maintained and the order was being looked after — putting them at ease and allowing them to focus on other aspects of the stadium renovation.
- Demonstrating experience on similar projects. Supplying made-to-order pipe over a long lead time for a high profile job requires a steady, detail-oriented approach — a different expertise than getting an oil refinery up and running during an emergency, but it’s an expertise we have nonetheless. We had completed jobs of similar type, size and visibility with this customer, proving our ability to deliver without hindrance.
Thanks to our work supplying pipe for this major stadium renovation, owner deadlines were met and tournaments could go on as scheduled — without worry of interruption by way of inclement weather. This major sports venue is still an active account for us and we hope to continue our working relationship in the future.
If you’re searching for a quality-focused partner for a high visibility undertaking, consider starting a conversation with our experienced sales team.
Or, if you’re ready to get a quote, request one now.