Monthly Archives: December 2014

Plan Your Success with Design Services From TMS

tms-design-servicesYou have a mechanical design or installation need…or, just an idea about how to make your business run more smoothly and efficiently, thus generating more profits.  What steps should you take toward project management?  Planning with design services from TMS is your best shot at success.

Large or small, your project needs to be mapped out in advance.  It doesn’t matter if you’re installing a new set of handrails or designing an area within a plant, the following three steps of design service are an integral component toward bringing your concept to life.

Count the Cost

Budgeting is the first step of our design service.  This step might seem overly simplistic, but you wouldn’t believe how many managers begin a project without any concept of cost.  Unless you have a budget in mind, you’ll never get out of the starting gate.  The design service experts here at TMS can assist you as you count the cost.

When you provide our team with as much information about the project as possible, we can easily calculate a contingency budget (generally within ten percent) in approximately ten to fourteen days.  It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just addressing short-term needs within your company (although that might be a part of the process), you’re also investing in the future.  In addition to the potential immediate ROI, TMS projects can result in income being generated for your business in the years and decades to come.

Save the Date

Next up is milestone scheduling.  This is where we identify the key events in the life cycle of a particular project.  These could be individual tasks, or it could be a matter of labeling a group of tasks and putting them under a broad umbrella, or key event.  These events are extremely valuable to design service as they enable the project manager or managers to determine whether or not the overall project is on schedule, and, most important, if the job is being done correctly.

To illustrate, let’s take an ordinary piece of furniture that requires some amount of assembly – a bookcase.  When you look at the instructions that come with the bookcase, you notice that each step of assembly is numbered and diagrammed.  You always know what you need to do and what it’s supposed to look like.  You even have a picture on the box of the finished product.  If this process is used on a common piece of household furniture, shouldn’t this same method be applied to projects affecting the future of your company and your valued employees?

During milestone scheduling, it’s also important to factor in the lead time on construction, purchases, and personnel.  The law of supply and demand might prove to be a bit tricky if you need parts that everyone and their brother are looking for.  And a tight deadline might not be feasible if a certain amount of workers are needed for construction.  One project we worked on involved building a mixer.  Not a problem.  But if our client was hoping for, say, a few weeks to see their vision come to fruition, well…let’s just say the amount of time required for mixer construction is seven months.  Milestone scheduling allowed all involved to prepare enough time for completion.

Taking Action!

Determining the critical path is the final phase of design services.  This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and your plan is put into action.

All of the milestones are gathered, the time of completion is determined, and we also assess how your customers, clients, employees and overall production will be impacted by the work we do.  Basically, how does one event affect another?

For one of our clients, a local grain processing company, the critical path was determined by the timing of their business cycle and how long they were able to shut down the facility to make improvements.  By mapping out the critical path in advance, the grain was flowing freely, customers received shipments on time, and not a step was missed.

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with saying, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  That sentiment is something we believe here at TMS.  If you’ve got a mechanical services need, the first step is to give our design services team a call.  We’ll help you map out the rest.

Some TMS Happy Client Stories to Start the New Year

As one year comes to a close, and another begins, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of the comments and compliments we receive from our mechanical contracting clients. Here are three such stories from the past year.



To: Trey                                   From: Craig   –XXXXXX LUBRICANTS

I received a call on Wednesday morning from Craig at XXXXX asking for a couple of guys to work on plant leaks that were happening inside the plant. Trey was one of the guys sent to XXXXX to repair the leaks. Trey met with Craig on what needed to be done and got right to work. Craig mentioned that Trey was energetic and willing to do any job asked of him and with a great attitude. He worked quickly and efficiently on the tasks he was given and needed little direction. Trey finished out the day at XXXXX and was asked to come back the next day to do additional work.



To: Don T.                                         From: Don A   

Last Friday when Don T came in to install our stretch wrapper guards, I had a disagreement with our warehouse manager on the design of our stretch wrapper guards.  Don suggested an idea that not only appeased both of us, but was better than either of our ideas.  He quickly modified the components, did the install, and we were both extremely happy with the TMS work.

Kudos to Don!!!!!
Don A. Manufacturing Engineer


Roofing Manufacturer

To: Mark M.                                       From: Jean-Mark  

During the shutdown at RM I had a chance to meet with Jean-Mark about the new line TMS had installed. Jean-Mark was very pleased with the outcome of the project. The new process allows RM to manufacture an ingredient they use rather than purchasing it.

Jean-Mark was very complementary of Mark M and the help he was on this job. Throughout the project obstacles would arise and Jean-Mark would pull Mark aside to ask for his thoughts on a resolution. “Mark is a very good fabricator and we were able to use his abilities throughout this project.”

Jean-Mark closed the conversation by saying that TMS always does good work for RM and we (Clayton, Monty and Jean-Mark) all appreciate it.


To Craig, Don A and Jean-Mark, thank you for the kind words. We’ve said it before. It always makes us happy when our customers are happy. That’s our goal with every job we do and we look forward to more great comments in 2015. Contact us for your mechanical contracting needs and become another one of our success stories.


TMS: Your One-Stop Shop for Mechanical Services

tms-mechanical-servicesWe’ve talk about many different projects individually on this page in the past, from picking the right contractor to steel work, pipe choices and even disaster planning. If you take a step back and look at all we do, clearly when it comes to your mechanical contracting needs, we have you covered. We are your one-stop mechanical services shop. TMS staff have the unique ability to seamlessly move a project from start to finish and effectively handle any problems that could arise along the way. As a merit shop mechanical contractor, our core services include process piping, equipment installation, millwright services, design services, custom steel fabrication and HVAC service and installation. We also provide project management, including budgeting, milestone scheduling and critical path services. With our full suite of services, we have the ability and internal resources to handle the entirety of a project, making it unnecessary to use multiple contractors.

Maintenance Expertise

In addition to our mechanical expertise, we also offer a wide array of maintenance services. We can provide maintenance technicians for total maintenance coverage at your facility for whatever shift you need covered, whether for a day, a week or a month. One time, a client even asked us to cut their lawn. Honestly, it wasn’t the most efficient use of financial resources for them, but they needed it done and we did it. The point is, we work with you to ensure you get the coverage you need, then leave when you’re fully staffed again.

Get the Work Done

One more advantage that TMS can offer to help get things done. We are an open shop, which allows us to avoid labor issues. For example, if a contractor is running process piping and we realize the pump base that came with the pump is incorrect, we don’t have to go send for an ironworker to work on that pump. We can fix it for you directly on the spot. We don’t have to slow down our process to wait on another tradesman. We cut the red tape and do what needs to be done at all phases of any project.

Do It All to Your Satisfaction

As a company, we strive for 100 percent customer satisfaction and to be your one call for all your general mechanical contracting needs. We do it all.  So if your office air-conditioning has suddenly stopped working or you have a cut line, we can help. If your office needs weeds trimmed as part of a maintenance role, our maintenance technicians are at your service. We are here to service our clients in any way we can. Whether in an emergency or not, call us. We can provide just about any mechanical services you can think of, from the obvious to the obscure.

When it comes mechanical service needs, we are the one call you need to make. Call TMS today at 913 321 8647.

Mechanical Design: Planning Process Piping With TMS – Part One

planning-process-pipingIt’s in the pipeline!  Sometimes that phrase can describe difficulty with a clogged drain.  It’s also uttered when someone is asked about the progress of a certain project or activity.  But, as it relates to mechanical engineering and design, we here at TMS are experts at getting just about any material into the pipeline and through the production process.  In part one of our two-part discussion on mechanical design, we’ll detail process piping.  In part two, we’ll discuss how it’s all connected.

What is Process Piping?

Process piping is simply the tubing used to convey raw materials through industrial and manufacturing production processes.  Compressed air, water, chemicals – even soft drinks, beer and chocolate – must all start somewhere in a plant or factory and weave along a path to an ultimate deliverable destination.  One of the first questions we ask is, “What are you piping?”

You see, the type of pipe used often depends on the material being shuttled through the pipeline.  Compressed air and water are rather safe elements to transport, but some chemicals are extremely caustic and can eat right through certain piping materials.  Foods and beverages are entirely different processes altogether.  In these instances, there are federal regulations involving maintenance and cleanliness that are strictly enforced in order to avoid contamination and ensure public safety.  You can’t have dirt, chemicals or paint chips ending up in your favorite drink or dessert!

Once we’ve determined “what” is being piped, it’s time to determine, “how.”

Purchasing the Proper Piping

Counting cost is on the minds of every plant owner and contractor.  That’s why we utilize a number of different piping materials to meet your needs and budget.  From PVC and HDPE to carbon and stainless steel and everything in between, rest assured that we have what you need.  As we mentioned, piping air and water is rather safe, so PVC might be the most fiscally sound option for you if you pipe these materials.

But when you’re dealing with materials such as gas or soap that can eat away at plastics or standard steel,or materials that require frequent cleansing of the pipes such as chocolate and dairy, stainless steel is definitely worth the investment.

You must also factor in the amount of pressure that will be put on the pipes, the rate of flow, the layout of the plant or factory, the potential loss of value of the product being piped in the event of leakage, and the installation of safety valves and shutoffs.  Those are all areas where TMS will provide professional recommendations during the project estimation phase.

Future-proof your Pipes!

Once you make the choice to partner with us for your piping needs, we can assist you in making a wise investment for the future of your company.  For example, it might seem to be more cost-effective to go with half-inch pipe at $50/foot as opposed to one-inch pipe at $100/foot.  But if you’re planning any type of expansion, that half-inch pipe might not meet your needs in piping materials to the area where you plan to expand.  What appeared to be initial savings could result in unnecessary expenses.

Our design services team will answer all of your process piping questions and will more than likely address a few you haven’t considered.

In part two of this series, we’ll discuss how process piping all comes together – literally!

TMS Mechanical Design: Process Piping, Part Two – Making the Connection

process-piping-making-connectionsIn part one of our two-part discussion on mechanical design, we discussed the definition of process piping, types of products that can be piped, materials used in process piping, and how to anticipate needs and budget for the future of your company.  Let’s recap:

  • Process piping is the tubing used to convey raw materials through industrial and manufacturing production processes.
  • Examples of materials that can be piped can be as simple as air and water.  Caustic materials that can be destructive to certain piping materials include chemicals and soaps.  The food industry can pipe anything from beer to chocolate and has strict cleaning and maintenance regulations in place to protect consumers from contaminated products.
  • TMS utilizes a wide range of piping materials from PVC and HDPE plastics to carbon and stainless steel.
  • Each piping material has a specific use for the materials being piped.  TMS design services can assist you in determining which piping material best suits your safety regulations, current and future production needs, and your budget.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to make the best connections that will keep your product moving through the pipeline.

Connections – What’s Your Type?

Threaded Pipe
Threading is one of the most common means of connecting pipes.   You simply cut threads into each end of the pipe and screw the pipes together.  Depending on the type of material being piped, you can opt for a straight thread (the thread itself does not provide a seal) or a tapered thread (the cut of the thread provides a measure of sealing).  Delivery of gases will typically require a tapered thread.

A word of caution, however.  If the piping is going to be installed in an area where there will be a considerable amount of vibration, you might want to consider going with a different type of connection.  Vibrations will jostle the pipes and, in some cases, can cause the joints to loosen, resulting in leakage.  If you are piping gas, chemicals or other hazardous material, you can see how this can quickly become a safety issue.

Welding is one of the most reliable, long-lasting means of connecting pipes.  This is where we melt the actual piping material in a controlled fashion and fuse the fitting and pipe directly to each other.  Welding is highly recommended for industries transporting hazardous materials or food and drink products.

In this latter instance, our welding experts have a considerable amount of experience working with food grade piping.  They are extremely knowledgeable about AIB (American Institute of Baking) food safety standards and the welding processes used are a reflection of that.  TMS welders use ultra-clean TIG (tungsten inert gas) and orbital welding methods to ensure safe transport of food products.  These welding processes are ideal when connecting thinner metals such as stainless steel, which is often used in piping food products.

Groove Lock
Groove Lock, or grooved couplings, might be the right choice for you, again, depending on the materials you’re piping.  Installation of grooved couplings can be up to three times faster than welding, and, in some cases, proves to be more reliable than threading.  Coupling also allows for easy removal of a section of pipe for cleaning and maintenance.  This can also result in reduced “shut down” time during production.

For non-welded connections, ProPress coupling products are quickly gaining in popularity due to ease of installation, variety of connectors and, most recently, becoming the only UL-approved stainless press fitting for fire protection systems.  The makers boast “unique press technology to secure pipe connections in less than seven seconds”.

As you’ve seen from this series on process piping, there are a variety of materials and means to transport your valuable products from origin to delivery.  Before you map out your engineering plans, be sure to contact the design services team here at TMS.  We’ll help you make the right connections!

Emergency! Partnering with TMS Helped a Client to Keep Rolling in the Dough

emergency-bin-collapseEmergency! It’s a word that can instantly give you a jolt of adrenaline. And when disaster strikes, we can only hope we’re ready to cope. This is especially true when it comes to your business. Unexpected problems can affect your revenue, and the lives and income of those who work for or with you. As mechanical contractors, we know what can happen because we deal with it all the time.  Emergency situations can shut down operations for days—even weeks—at a time! So it’s imperative that you have a plan in place if the unthinkable should occur. In a previous article, we detailed several ways you can develop an emergency preparedness plan. Now we’d like to give you a recent example of how our team of professionals was able to assist a client during an incredibly stressful time.

Bin Breakdown

One of our clients is in the business of baking. In fact, pizza is the name of this game. Today, many large pizza chains aren’t making the pizza dough in the kitchen. With that kind of volume, they’re bringing in the dough from outside sources. One of those sources is our client.

Making pizza dough requires flour, lots of it. Even industrial sized bags of flour are too small to keep up with production demands, so our client uses a storage bin, a silo, to store up to 10 tons of flour at a time. As they use the flour, air vents at the top of the storage bin allow air to take the place of the flour used for baking. But the powdery nature of flour means things get clogged. In this case, the crucial air vent got fully blocked and before anyone realized it, the bin collapsed just like a straw does when you suck on it with your finger blocking one end. Disaster!

Springing into Action

A storage bin of this size isn’t something you can just go to a local store and purchase. And finding a storage bin manufacturer isn’t always the answer. Transportation and time to deliver such a sizable item comes into play.  It takes experience, planning and investigation, and difficult business decisions to solve this kind of problem.

Within 24 hours, our TMS team was on the scene meeting with supervisors, getting a budget in mind, calculating transport costs, taking measurements, and discovering what bins were available versus the possibility of building a bin at the location. Plus, our crew also had to devise an immediate solution so the client had a short-term means of loading individual 1-ton flour containers into the system.

In this example, it was far more economical to bring in the materials and build a new bin to spec on site than it was to wait months for a complete bin to be manufactured and transported. Our client experienced minimal loss of time and was able to keep the business—and its pizza partners—rolling in the dough.

Don’t Wait for Disaster

You and your customers simply can’t afford down time due to lack of emergency preparedness or disaster planning. Give our TMS experts a call and we’ll help you put an emergency plan in place that’s customized for your business. And don’t forget TMS for any other mechanical contracting needs you may have—whether you’re in a crisis or simply need extra help, we’re ready to serve.

Mechanical Contracting: Understanding the Importance of Weld Specs

weld-specsWalk past any building.  Hop on board a train and ride the rails.  Cross a spectacularly scenic river by traveling on a bridge.  One of the many things they all have in common is welding.  All of those pieces and parts have been joined together by amazingly skilled craftspeople.  Each and every day, people from all walks of life are dependent upon the integrity of these welds.  That’s why it is vital that this type of work is regulated and those in the industry pay heed to this regulation.  This regulation comes in the form of Welding Procedure Specifications (WPS), or welding specs.

What Are Welding Specs?

As anyone can tell from a quick check of Wikipedia, welding specs are specific procedures to be followed during a welding project. They are outlined in a formal document ensuring that welders make sound and quality production welds as per code requirements.  These codes should be second-hand knowledge to qualified welders and originate from organizations such as The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, The American Welding Society, and others.  Welding specs must be developed for each and every welding project to ensure quality and safety on the job.

Why the Need for Weld Specs?

Stop for a moment to think about how many different types of metals exist.  You’re dealing with everything from copper and stainless steel to steel and titanium.  Different metals require different types of welds.  For instance, you’re going to need a different type of weld on, say, stainless steel pipes than you would on the girders for a suspension bridge.  You cannot apply the same welding techniques to every type of metal.  For this reason, project managers must establish a weld specs document for each and every welding job.

As you would imagine, this can be a costly, time-consuming task, but one that is well worth the investment of time and finances.  It’s sad to say, but only 10-20% of companies today require weld specs for their contractors.  That’s not to say that 80% of the welds you see today are in danger of coming apart, but it’s certainly something we’ve had to deal with here at TMS.  And once is one time too many.

To give you an example, one recent piping order we received from overseas did not have one weld that passed inspection.  That simply won’t do.  We were not able to use any of that material for our end of the project and it resulted in a loss of time and money for the other parties.  If weld specs were in place, that situation would not have happened.

Consistency is key when it comes to welding.  If someone orders thirty storage racks with over a hundred cut metal pieces on each rack, the last weld on rack thirty should be exactly the same as the first weld on rack one.  You see, it’s not just products that are involved.  Depending on what is being supported by each weld – lives could be at stake.  That definitely puts the importance of weld specs into perspective.

Put the Specs to the Test

The first test is with the individual welder.  The welder must be certified for the type of weld called for on the WPS and this is done through a qualification test documented in a Welder Qualification Test Record (WQTR).  Once a welder is certified, he or she can perform this type of weld continuously without recertification as long as the weld is performed within a six-month period.  Anything outside of six months will require recertification.

As far as the welding project itself, the WPS is supported by a Procedure Qualification Record (PQR), which is a record of a test weld performed and tested (more rigorously) to ensure that the procedure will produce a good weld.

As you can see, welding is more than just a matter of acquiring a stinger, dropping the visor and going to work.  Quality welds require quality welders, certified by specific testing methods.  At TMS, we can take you step by step through the process before your contractor makes the first weld.

Additional Work? TMS Mechanical Contractors to the Rescue!

additional-work-rescueRecently we wrote about the importance of job planning and emergency preparedness and how our team of mechanical contracting experts can assist in both of those areas. However, emergencies aren’t the only time when you could find yourself in a last-minute crisis situation.

But there’s still work to be done!

American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying, “The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.” But there’s not much of a reward for you or your business if your contracting project requires “additional work.” That’s what we call work that still needs to be completed after a contracted job is finished.

For example, say you’ve contracted with a company to outfit an extensive area with unmodeled piping. Once that piping is installed throughout the facility, depending on the wording of the contract, technically the job could be finished. But what about the holes in the walls and floors? And think about the patchwork that needs to be done — to say nothing of the cleanup!

If you wind up dealing with a contractor who sticks to the “letter of the law,” so to speak, you might end up with a lot of additional work to be done before a particular job is truly finished. Or perhaps the contractor only budgeted enough time to perform the specific task spelled out in the contract. Either way … there’s still work to be done.

TMS is on the job

At TMS, we realize that each and every job is unique. That’s why we offer timely follow-up to meet your contracting needs.

One thing we’ve noticed is that, in the planning phase, sometimes business owners and contractors don’t think of everything, or neglect to put specific verbiage into contracts. To use our unmodeled piping example, a contractor might run the correct amount of pipes, but those pipes might not be hooked up to the equipment that needs to be used. Or smaller but no less critical items, such as mezzanines, stairwells, ladders or hand railings, might get missed in the plan. Floor-to-ceiling pipes have to start somewhere and end somewhere, but that might get overlooked. Or the contractor could leave a hole in the floor without a toe plate.

Depending on your contract, any of those particular parts of the job could result in the need for additional work if they weren’t spelled out.

Fortunately, additional work is our specialty. Our team can come in—often at the last minute—to finish off the job … and finish it off right. No holes, nothing missed — a bow on the package, if you will.

Just because a mechanical contracting issue isn’t caused by an actual emergency, that doesn’t mean it’s not a high priority situation for you and your team. You need to be up and running with minimal down time, and remaining additional work simply isn’t conducive to that happening. When your team is facing unplanned additional work, be sure to call the experts at TMS to finish the job.

Avoid the Mess – Four Factors for Job Site Cleanliness

job-site-cleanlinessStop reading this blog for a second and take a quick look around you.  How clean and organized is the area?  If it’s a messy, disorganized space or you can imagine one, you have a good idea how difficult it can be to find something you need and to get a particular job done. Extend that idea to a mechanical contracting construction site or plant and you’ll quickly see the importance of job site cleanliness.  Let’s consider four important factors when developing a plan for a clean job site.

 1. Safety

This is far and above the most important factor to consider.  It’s been reported that hundreds of thousands of workplace accidents occur each year due to poor job site cleanliness.  Dangerous materials, clutter and debris left out in the open, spills, tools, equipment, job site vehicles not properly returned, inadequate lighting…the list of potential workplace safety violations goes on and on.  It takes minutes (or even seconds) to maintain an organized job site.  But failure to do so can result in a serious injury to a worker that can last a lifetime.

Safety standards are available for each job site and should be followed to the letter, and when possible, even exceeded.

2. Financial Loss

Workers’ compensation claims can often be avoided by performing the simple task of maintaining an organized job site.  Fewer injured employees means more workers on the job and less down time on projects.  Don’t discount the financial loss experienced when tools and equipment are lost or stolen either.  Knowing what goes where, returning, and then securing those items will go a long way to preventing financial loss.

3. Professionalism

We ask our clients to rate the importance of various factors as they relate to work project professionalism.  Consistently snagging the top spot is job site cleanliness.  For clients, it’s the quickest and easiest way to determine the efficiency and safety of a crew.  We’re proud to say we’ve received glowing commendations from our valued partners in this regard.  Keep this in mind when considering job site cleanliness – the reputation of your company is on the line.

4. Employee Pride

If you find employee workplace morale at a low, you might consider some spring cleaning, regardless of the time of year.  Again, consider the area around you right now.  If you’re staring at a messy desk (or even a kitchen pantry or garage…) and can’t find anything, imagine how much better you’d feel if everything was in the right place, the clutter was eliminated and you could perform tasks quickly and efficiently.  It’s the same on a job site.  When you take pride in your work area and follow the rules, this results in a feeling of pride and accomplishment.  Remember, a clean workplace is a happy workplace.

As you can see, job site cleanliness is something we all need to consider.  When you contact TMS for your contracting needs, you’ll find we allow time at the end of each work day for employees to check their designated areas, put tools and equipment back where they belong and ensure all safety regulations have been followed.

Mechanical Contracting – Find Success with TMS

mechanical-contracting-successChances are, if you’re reading this, you’re either a current client of TMS or you’re considering partnering with us on your next mechanical contracting project.  If it’s the latter, perhaps now is a good time to fill you in on some of our success stories.  Once you understand some of our achievements, you’ll understand why we can say we’re proud to be a “leading provider of total mechanical solutions for customers large and small.”  We’d like to share with you some examples of satisfied TMS customers:

TMS Gets the Picture

On site or off, TMS is on the job.  That was certainly true for a recent project where CIP heat exchangers needed to be installed during a brief plant shutdown.  The job was completed lightning fast because we were able to generate a model for this system within our Plant 3D design software using photos of the original installation.  We sent out the model, pictures, and isometric drawings from which to fabricate.  Our TMS team built the system and during the shutdown, we could immediately demo and field weld our tie-ins, thus saving time and money for our client.

TMS is There in the Nick of Time

Another incident involved a spiral conveyor at a plant.  Now, keep in mind, when you’re manufacturing products, moving them from one part of the plant to the next, then getting the shipments out to your customers, you really can’t afford to have any down time.  Spiral conveyors are a critical factor in maintaining the needed pace.  So when we got a call on a Thursday afternoon from one of our customers with a spiral conveyor that simply wasn’t making the rounds, our TMS team immediately went into action.  Within an hour, we were on site inspecting the situation and shortly thereafter, we were able to pull in experts from other projects to handle the emergency.

What we found was that the mat had ridden up on the cage and bent several of the top rows of supports.  Our six-person dayside crew and four-person nightside detail worked around-the-clock, replacing seventeen pallets of matting, re-leveling and replacing the bars, cleaning the entire area, and prepping it for inspection.

All it took was one phone call to TMS and the job was well in hand.  We are truly grateful for the kind words of our customer, who respects that we treated this project with the same sense of urgency:  “TMS made a name for themselves over this job.”

It always makes us happy when our customers are happy. That’s our goal with every job we do. Contact us for your mechanical contracting needs and become another one of our success stories.