The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Cherokee, North Carolina
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
For more than 100 years Whiting-Turner Contracting has provided clients with construction management, general contracting, design build and integrated delivery services on large and small projects in the United States.

The Project

In 2019 they began construction on Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino, a luxurious 21 story structure with a 150 thousand square foot convention center situated in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with breathtaking views and over 1,108 rooms.

This Hotel and Casino is the largest structure of its kind in the area, most other buildings are strictly two stories for hours in every direction.

Whiting-Turner has always been an innovative company and this project was no different. Undertaking this project in this remote location meant that they could not rely on the same amenities projects might have in urban development. Namely, the closest lab to perform break tests would be an hour drive away.

Photo Credit: Baker Construction

Where SmartRock® Came In

While they were able to set up a mobile testing lab on site, they began exploring Giatec SmartRock sensors to speed up and find efficiencies at various stages of the project.

The Harrah’s Hotel and Casino was Whiting-Turner’s lead Structural Project Manager’s first time using the Giatec SmartRock or the maturity method. To ensure the accuracy of the sensors they embedded in their concrete, they began comparing the readings from the SmartRock with the lab reports from their field cured cylinders.

The results were completely unexpected.

The lab cylinders were breaking behind what the SmartRock sensors were reading. “The SmartRock was reading 5,000 PSi the next morning but the lab cylinder was breaking at like 3,504.” The main reason for this was that the mass concrete was hydrating at a much faster rate than the individual cylinders. Individual cylinders simply cannot replicate the same conditions that affect mass concrete’s strength gain, so it’s difficult to have a true 1:1 comparison without the SmartRock.

Going forward the Whiting-Turner team was confident in the accuracy of the readings they were getting from the SmartRock which allowed them to move faster. While they had a mobile testing lab on site, the technicians doing the break tests still had to drive an hour everyday to make it to the site. When one of them showed up late or called in sick, this could add significant delays to the project’s overall timeline.

Utilizing the readings from the SmartRock, Whiting-Turner’s Structural Project Manager found huge benefits not only in the speed and pace of table turns but by not having to wait on a technician to break a cylinder on time.

“One of the huge benefits for us, not only the speed and pace of table turns but the remote locale of where we were getting techs here to break cylinders on time. So that saved us in my opinion, you know a lot of hours in the morning, at least half a day.

They were able to make decisions utilizing real time data instead of waiting on technicians to break cylinders which can be a “slow lag of information.”

whiting turner harrah hotel and casino
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino

You know you could lose a half day stressing those decks, but we had that real time data on hand and were able to proceed. You know on the spot every morning. So the stressing crew would show up, read the app and would send out an email to everyone to say this is what we read or we are good to stress.”

The Results

But time wasn’t the only thing the Whiting-Turner team was able to save.

Through the readings from Giatec’s SmartRock maturity sensors, their Structural Project Manager found that the mix design of their concrete was hitting their strength target of 3,000 PSi within 4 hours. They were able to go back to their concrete company to recalibrate their mix design, reducing the amount of cement and additives which produced savings of about $4 per yard. In total they could have saved close to $40,000 on cement additives alone.

Not only was Whiting-Turner able to find time and cost savings by using the SmartRock sensor – the Giatec support team was there at every step of their project to help. Giatec prides itself on working closely with all its customers to ensure proper sensor placement, calibration, mix design, and any way we can work towards the success of customer projects.

“You know, I can’t praise you enough for how easy you are to work with. Walking through the whole thing helped us, you know help set up the job. I mean you guys bent over backwards.”

Going forward the team at Whiting-Turner think that the SmartRock is “probably a standard now moving forward. I would definitely use it the same way I did out here.”

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