Under pressure

CUBIMSA reroofs a Mexico plant that was damaged by explosions

  • Takata plant, Monclova, Mexico
  • Takata plant, Monclova, Mexico

On March 30, the Japanese-owned Takata automotive parts plant in Monclova, Mexico, was rocked by a series of gas explosions.

According to online news source Frontera NorteSur, 600 workers were working at the plant at the time of the explosions and all were evacuated. More than 4,000 residents also were forced to evacuate the surrounding neighborhoods.

Although only minor injuries were reported, the plant was damaged severely.

When the time came to rebuild the plant, Cubiertas Industriales de México SA de CV (CUBIMSA), Chihuahua, Mexico, was chosen to install the new roof system.

A tight schedule

CUBIMSA heard about the project from a general contractor the company had worked with previously.

"He told us about the explosions at the facility and said the roof needed to be re-covered as soon as possible," says Miguel Arzola, cost department manager for CUBIMSA.

The explosion had torn standing-seam panels off the 250,000-square-foot roof system.

"The standing-seam roof was extremely damaged," Arzola says. "The seams had been detached, so we had to refasten the standing-seam panels.

"It was decided we would refasten instead of tear off because we would have left the damaged interior exposed," he continues. "We also refastened to save money—if we had torn off the existing standing-seam roof, we would have had to install a new deck."

CUBIMSA installed a Firestone Utraply TPO 0.045-inch-thick mechanically attached roof membrane using 8-foot-wide rolls and heavy-duty fasteners.

"We mechanically fastened 1-inch-thick polyisocyanurate boards with heavy-duty fasteners and plates over another layer of polyisocyanurate cut to fill the standing-seam valleys," Arzola says.

CUBIMSA had to take extra care when working on the roof of the Takata plant.

"We had to use safety harnesses at all times because there were holes in the roof," Arzola says. "The areas with the largest holes had to be defined with safety lines so nobody would cross them. Some standing-seam metal sheets were torn completely apart, and wind was blowing, so we had to be careful."

Time also was an important issue. The Takata plant manufactures air bags for prominent automakers, and continued production was imperative.

"We had to work day and night to finish the job in less than a month," Arzola says. "During the night, we cut the polyisocyanurate insulation to fit on the valleys of the standing-seam roof. It was too risky to work on the roof without natural light.

"Because of the time constraints, we had to have the materials on-site as soon as possible," he continues. "Fortunately, we received a lot of support from Firestone Building Products Co., Indianapolis, which sent materials from other locations and distributors to the border in three days. From there, our importing agency was able to get all the trucks imported at once. So a material delivery process that generally takes two weeks to three weeks was performed in five days."

Other challenges were faced while reroofing the plant.

"We had dangerous working conditions," Arzola says. "Besides the holes in the roof, we were working on an unstable steel structure, and it was being reinforced while we were working.

"There also was a lot of concern with regard to rain," he continues. "Because of the holes in the roof, the machinery inside the building was exposed, and rain could fall directly on the machines and cause electric shocks. So time was a huge issue, and we had pressure from a lot of people to finish the project quickly."

Put to the test

"The risk we had on the job site and quick response we had to provide because of the people working below was something we never had experienced before," Arzola says. "Takata personnel still were working inside the building as we worked on the roof, so Takata personnel took precautions, covering the machines and Takata workers with metal cages and placing plastic tarps on the roof at exposed areas. Construction workers were working to restore the building, as well."

There were many aspects of the project CUBIMSA does not usually encounter with a typical project.

"With this project, we experienced the pressure to finish as soon as possible, day and night schedules, conditions that posed risks, long hours, and constant coordination because there were many things going on and many people working at the same time."

The company's work allowed the plant to continue production successfully.

"It rained just after we finished the project, and the plant did not have any leaks," Arzola says. "So they did not have to stop the production process or lose any money because of it."

Sacrifice and hard work by many people made the project a success.

"It is rewarding to be part of a project where everyone is committed to one goal, which was to restore the damaged plant and get it back in working order," Arzola says. "People did not care about their schedules and instead worked to finish daily tasks for this project."

Working on a project that had such severe damage brought many different workers together, Arzola says.

"It was unique to arrive at the plant and see all the damage and pieces of metal and concrete everywhere and then see so many people in different construction areas working side by side," he says. "When you analyze the effort and coordination required for such a huge challenge and commitment, it's unbelievable when you become a part of it and complete your task."

Krista Reisdorf is managing editor of Professional Roofing magazine.

Project name: Takata plant
Project location: Monclova, Mexico
Project duration: April 12-May 8
Roof system type: TPO
Roofing contractor: Cubiertas Industriales de México SA de CV, Chihuahua, Mexico
Roofing manufacturer: Firestone Building Products Co., Indianapolis


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