“In the planning department, we had a slogan: ‘In God we trust. Everybody else bring data,” said Bob Higdon. Bob was part of the in-house Turner Industries team in the early 1990s that created a project management, budgeting, and reporting program that won a U.S. Senate Productivity Award. Before “information technology” entered the business lexicon, the Turner key punch crew was entering job data on manila index cards into a mainframe computer.
Fast-forward to today. With nearly 20,000 employees and average annual revenues approaching $3 billion, Turner Industries has grown to be the largest private employer in Louisiana. The company provides heavy industrial construction, maintenance, and related services to the companies that drive the economic engine of the state, many of which are on the Fortune 500 Global list.
Bert Turner, company founder, was always aggressive in his approach to adopting new technology. The need for investment in systems to make the Louisiana company run smoother and more efficiently was never in question. In the early days, progress would sometimes take place at the expense of more practical concerns, such as fixing roof leaks.
“When it rained, we would have pots and trash cans on top of our mainframe computer to catch the water,” said Bert’s son, Thomas Turner, vice chairman and president.
“Over time, we’ve developed technology solutions to meet the unique information requirements of our industry, as well as programs specifically tailored to a particular client or problem. These solutions have produced millions of dollars of documented cost savings to our clients,” said Stephen Toups, executive vice president.
One technology which holds particular appeal to both newly arriving plant operators and their mentors uses Turner’s mobile hand-held units with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to effectively manage the standard operating conditions in the plant units. RFID tags are attached to each piece of plant equipment, allowing workers making their daily rounds to answer questions online while in the field. Once an equipment malfunction is discovered, via electronically synchronized data, workers can follow a step-by-step procedure to correct the issue.
In one such case, the technology, which was new to the jobsite, uncovered the source of an internal oil leak in a very large piece of equipment. For many years, an assumption had been passed from employee to employee that the unit simply used large quantities of oil. In fact, the unit was malfunctioning and the MobilOps handheld unit pinpointed the exact spot for repair. The annual cost savings from this discovery have now amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the client.
Another example of an award-winning technological advancement is TRAM solutions. This patent-pending software provides unparalleled advantages for Turner’s customers. Developed in-house, this client-driven, interactive process allows customers to identify and quantify fourteen common industry budget-risk categories. By performing an initial risk analysis, validated by current site personnel with past industrial turnaround execution experience, TRAM software helps quantify those risks into a tangible dollar amount, which can then be used as the basis for making data-driven business decisions.
“When you’re operating in a competitive environment, and everyone’s using the same tools, you have to figure out ways to be better and more efficient,” said Kevin Landry, Turner’s director of software development. “The best way to do that is to come up with innovative solutions that allow us to work at lower cost to our customers and save them money.”