Project Management Strategies, Part V: Minimizing service disruptions

"Move fast. Speed is one of your main advantages over large competitors." – Sam Altman, American entrepreneur

In this series, we have been identifying potential project killers and what can be done to prevent or remediate them. Previously, we’ve discussed issues with unclear scope and commitments, how a parallel-path project approach can yield massive savings, but also when to avoid parallel-path in favor of tip-to-tail project execution.

Minimizing service disruptions and keeping planned outages as short as possible is a key element of any successful substation projects. These costly disruptions inevitably create headaches for the project owner, and it’s incumbent on their partners to do everything possible to keep service disruptions to a minimum. Here are three key strategies DIS-TRAN uses, not just to shorten outages, but to compress project schedules as a whole.


We’ve written previously about the ways in which our customers inspire us. For example, in one project, we faced a seemingly “impossible schedule.” However, some creative engineering – specifically, developing a unique double “inverted V” insulator design to account for unusually high fault currents – allowed us to use readily available insulators, rather than having to wait on custom-designed versions from overseas.

In another case, a customer in Nebraska had an unusually short outage window – about six weeks rather than the more typical 4 to 6 months. In order to meet that requirement, our team put on our thinking caps and came up with our skid-mounted eXpress Power Stations (XPS), allowing us to speed up installation.

Match the right product to the situation.

Our XPS product is not the only one that can help keep disruptions short.

Factory-built substations (FBS) can not only be built faster in a controlled setting, they enable greater flexibility with substation projects. For example, they create the potential for parallel-path approaches to projects. Commissioning an FBS allows the project owner to work on other steps (like digging, pouring and curing the substation’s foundation) while the factory is at work. One client reduced total construction time by two to three months with an FBS.

That, in turn, allowed the project owners to keep service disruptions shorter than they’d otherwise require. “When you build in a factory and ship in modules, it means less construction time in the field, instead of field labor taking all the pieces and putting them together themselves,” says Frank Camus, Vice President of Engineering and Design.

Improve efficiencies in support services.

Elements like procurement, packaging, shipping, and field marshalling can be unexpectedly impactful when it comes to schedules and, therefore, outages. Ensuring all materials and equipment have been procured, vetted, prepped, and shipped is key to success. That means more than just having all materials sitting on-site; it’s making sure they’re sufficiently organized and labeled so that on-site teams can grab exactly what they need when they need it.

“Our logistics team and coordinators communicate directly with customer job sites to make sure they get the right materials at the right times in the right conditions,” explains Brad Fontenot, President of DIS-TRAN Packaged Substations.