Prepping the 60-acre site for the future SunTrust Park, which will be home to the MLB Atlanta Braves is no easy undertaking.
The terrain is difficult — surrounding developments and utility easements all stand in its shadows, but it will be ready to welcome fans opening day 2017. As always, time is of the essence with the $672-million SunTrust Park. Fortunately for the joint venture site development company American Builders, they enlisted Plateau Excavation out of Austell, Ga., for the grading and site package.
Plateau Excavation is the largest grading contractor in the Southeast as well as being headquartered in Cobb County and providing employment to numerous Cobb County residents.
“To be a Cobb County company, as well as being a resident personally, I could not be more thrilled to take on this exciting project” said Brad Carroll, Vice President and COO of Plateau Excavation.
Plateau Excavation has enlisted LK Gregory on many other occasions in the Southeast including the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., and Aspen Heights Student Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., as well as numerous projects in Georgia.
“With a schedule that is heavily dependent on drilling and blasting, we have to increase production at every opportunity as it directly affects the crushing operation, wall operations, and most importantly for us, the mass grading. The drilling and blasting is an important component of our critical path schedule” said Carroll.
With the aid of their local Sandvik dealer, ASC Construction Equipment USA, Inc., LK Gregory has the ideal tools and support to get the job completed within the required time frame. The drilling and blasting contractor has three Sandvik DX800 Series machines on site, all of which were purchased and are currently maintained by ASC. In addition to the DX800s, to assist in the pre-split portion of the project that will create the interior of the stadium footprint, the company has a Sandvik DP1500i. These are machines that LK Gregory Vice President Danny Camp said that they “simply cannot do without.”
“It is the maneuverability of these drills that set them apart from the competition,” said Camp. “The operators enjoy the perks of the drills including the ease of the operation, backup cameras, HID lighting and of course, the heated seats in this weather. What I appreciate is the added safety and increased production that these drills provide us. Working on a project of this size and stature, you have to be able to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances not only in the office, but in the field as well and that is one area that I feel we excel in.”
The estimated $1 million drilling and blasting work on the stadium site is taking place under the scrutiny of countless passersby at the intersection of Interstates 285 and 75. That in itself is a challenge.
“With the developments surrounding the site and the onsite utilities, which had to be relocated since home plate is now situated in an easement where three cross-country gas lines were previously located, you can only imagine the difficulties it presents for drilling and blasting. There is a lot of communication that needs to take place each and every day to make sure everything stays on schedule and goes off without a hitch,” said Camp.
Jack Evans is General Manager of ASC Construction Equipment USA, Inc., the Volvo and Sandvik dealer in Georgia.
“We have worked with Plateau Excavation and LK Gregory on several large projects as well as assisting them on some smaller jobs,” said Evans. “We sold LK Gregory their two original DX800s in April of 2012 and they have added two more to their fleet in 2014. We also have a Volvo L180 loader assisting Plateau with the crushed material on site. They believe in the product as much as we do.”
Avery Martin, Business Line Manager of Surface Drills for Sandvik USA gives a little background on the DX models.
“The DX800 was introduced into the U.S. market in 1994,” Martin said. “It has an upper structure that turns 90 degrees to the left and to the right for full 180-degree coverage. That means the operator can drill more holes from one set up than any other machine in its class.
“Also with the operator and safety in mind Sandvik developed a convex front glass making the drill resemble a helicopter,” Martin added. “It’s well lit and super quiet, all huge bonuses for the operator. Instead of having to drill one hole and then move the rig to drill another, which adds non-productive time, the Sandvik machine allows you to drill 4-6-8 holes from one machine position depending on the pattern. All you do is lift the feed up turn and reset. The idea is less setup time. If you’re not setting up, then you’re drilling. You are more productive.”
The drill also is extremely stable, and has very favorable gradability, which leads to increased safety, he added.
But as good as the equipment may be, if it’s not working, it’s no good to anyone. That’s where the relationship that LK Gregory and ASC Construction Equipment USA, Inc. have developed comes in. One thing that Evans has learned through developing a relationship with Camp and LK Gregory is they demand production. With four drills running on site 14 hours a day, six days a week, there are bound to be problems.
“I know they are on a very tight production schedule,” Evans said. “If you are the drilling contractor, there is a saying that goes, ‘You may catch us, but you won’t ever pass us.’ Nothing can happen until the drilling and blasting contractor gets the work done. So they depend on us to respond to their need for any kind of repairs and regular maintenance.”
What that means is that there is no such thing as a day off. ASC is ready to assist whenever it may be. Evans recalled a recent situation. “Danny [Camp] calls late one afternoon with a component failure on a DX800 that is on site; I assured him that we would get him up and running ASAP, but I knew that they had to have something immediately in place. We worked out a solution where they could pick up another DX800 in place of the machine needing repairs, albeit five hours away, but the next day they were back up and drilling. We do what is needed to minimize customer downtime.”
Camp added, “They [ASC] always get on site and get us up and running in the least amount of time possible.”
In the midst of all the action that will be taking place in just a short amount of time at the new SunTrust Park, when the Braves will take the field in 2017, Plateau’s Brad Carroll and LK Gregory’s Danny Camp agree that it will be a “spectacular thing to watch it evolve day to day during construction and seeing the hometown team take the field and know that we assisted in making it all come together, it will be an incredible feeling.”