Pulling A Team Together & Providing A Superior Solution

After 50 years in operation, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) knew it was time to replace their central utilities plant. Among the challenges faced by the contractors was building the new plant in the middle of an extremely cramped airport while keeping the existing plant operational. A design concept was presented to the competing teams, consisting of a general contractor, mechanical engineering firm and sub-contracting trades. At the start of the selection process, Murray Company, in conjunction with Clark McCarthy (CMJV, a joint venture) and Arup Engineering, invited Dawson Company to join the team to provide input on the development of the hydronic pumping and heating systems required to satisfy the diverse loads associated with the airport.  

LAX Central Utilities Plant

Based on the original concept, in 2011 the team began design of a cooling plant consisting of 24,000 tons of cooling and over 36 million BTUs of heating for the airport. The cooling system would utilize 10 pumps, producing 62,000 GPM of condenser water to feed a ten cell tower located on the roof of the building. The chill water system would consist of 13 primary/secondary pumps capable of producing over 70,000 GPM.

Through the initial phase of the project, the team became the successful bidder, and jumped into action to design and build the new central plant that would serve LAX for the next 50 years. But before they could start the work, they had to propose some changes.

In the original concept, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) required a combination of ANSI end suction pumps and large horizontal split case pumps for circulation in the hydronic systems. Dawson Company was tasked with demonstrating to LAWA that the Bell & Gossett 1510 end suction pumps and VSX double suction pumps were a superior solution to the basis of their design. Murray Company and CMJV set up a meeting with LAWA personnel that included Brian Pendleton, Chief Operating Engineer, and Robert “Bob” Johnson, Senior Operating Engineer, at the Central Utility plant. Dawson was assisted in the presentation by Eugene de Souza, who was Engineer of Record. At this meeting, LAWA personnel were able see how double suction pump design has evolved from the first generation of horizontal split case pumps—the basis of design for the project—to the second generation VSC style pump introduced by Bell & Gossett back in the late ’60s, to the third generation VSX design currently in production. In addition to the presentation, a cut away and actual pump ready for shipment to a local job site were brought out to the meeting so LAWA personnel would have an opportunity to put their hands on them and see for themselves the quality and ease of serviceability designed into the VSX product. At the end of the meeting, it was clear that LAWA was sold on using the Bell & Gossett VSX pumps for their new state-of-the-art central plant. The rubber now hit the road and the team was off and flying. 

After receiving permission from LAWA to proceed with the VSX pump, Associate Principal Eugene de Souza, along with Yuvaraj Saravanan, Senior Mechanical Engineer, and Philip Kwok, Mechanical Engineer of Arup, worked closely with David Hernandez, V.P. Business Development Group, and Manny Masso, Commercial Sales Manager, in selecting equipment that would meet the design concept. In addition, Manny worked closely with Jim Mayes, Project Manager, and Prakash Patel, Project Engineer, for Murray Company at bid time and throughout the project, ensuring that all the LAWA specification requirements were met. Project Superintendent Tim Orban worked with scheduling equipment deliveries to get equipment onsite when needed. 

As with most design-build projects, the selection process was constantly changing in order to provide an optimal system. Through many iterations, a final design was determined, and Bell & Gossett was now purposed with delivering product. During manufacturing of the equipment, LAWA assigned inspectors to travel to the factory to witness assembly and performance testing. This was accomplished over a five-week period, and then the pumps were released for shipment. Because of delivery constraints at the job site, and the stipulation that plant and airport operations were not to be disrupted per contract, it was determined that all equipment would be delivered to Dawson Company’s facility in Pomona for staging. Murray company trucks would drop by in the afternoon and arrive at the job site for after-hours delivery. Pumps were then rigged into place, and as one set was finished, another pick up was arranged. This process took 2 months to complete, but did offer a superior alternative to storing equipment at an active job site. 

LAX Central Utilities Plant

Other aspects of the project included a 1.6 million gallon thermal energy storage system connected to (2) 4900 GPM Model VSX – VSH 12x14x17 1/2B Bell & Gossett pumps, a 36" CRS coalescing air separator (the first ever built by the factory), (2) QSU 228-2 22" diameter x 8' long heat exchangers using 38880 lb./hr. of 30 PSI steam to heat 1440 GPM for the terminals, (1) SUT 32.5 shell tube heat exchanger to be used as an emergency dump for the steam turbines, sized to handle over 25,000 lb./hr. of 100 PSIG steam. Also included on the heating side was a P-21 plate and frame heat exchanger providing space heating within the central plant itself. All heat exchangers were supplied with seismic calculations as required by contract documentation and codes.  

In August 2013, Dawson Company provided training classes for the LAWA maintenance personnel on the proper safe operation of the equipment. Dawson has continued to work closely with Maintenance Supervisor Clarence Harris to ensure the longevity of the equipment through our service department, and Manny Masso continues with due diligence at the project.

Another aspect of the project was that Dawson Company, through its e-commerce site, was able to offer the facilities personnel their own website in order to review IO&Ms, submittals, and parts requirements for each piece of equipment supplied. This allowed Dawson Company to provide 24/7 access to information specific to the project and was an add-on to the scope of the project. 

What began in 2011 was finally completed on April 23, 2015 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the plant. This project was successful because of a team effort. CMJV, Arup, Murray Company, Dawson Company, and of course the factories of Bell & Gossett worked together in a cohesive manner that provided LAWA with a state-of-the-art plant to serve LAX for years to come. This is what we call “Performance Beyond Expectations!” at Dawson Company.

Equipment provided by Dawson Company includes:

  • (5) – VSX-VSH 14x16x15A, 125HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (2) – VSX-VSH 8x10x13-1/2A 30HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (6) – VSX-VSH 12x14x17-1/2B 300HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (2) – VSX-VSH 12x14x17-1/2B 125HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (3) – VSX-VSCS 5x6x13-1/2A 100HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (10) – VSX-VSH 12x14x17-1/2A 200HP Double Suction Pumps
  • (2) – e1510 2BC 5HP End Suction Pumps
  • (2) – QSU228-2 Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger
  • (1) – GPX AP-21 GPX Plate & Frame Heat Exchanger
  • (1) – SUT328.5-2 Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger
  • (1) – CRS-36F-HV Coalescing Air Separator
  • (1) – RL-12FB Air Separator
  • (1) – RL-3FB Air Separator
  • (4) – B5000 Bladder Expansion Tanks
  • (1) – B3000 Bladder Expansion Tank
  • (1) – B800 Bladder Expansion Tank