CWA Engineers Incorporated
CWA Engineers Inc. (CWA) is a multi-disciplinary engineering and project management company that provides professional services in the mining and minerals, ports and marine terminals, infrastructure, and wood products sectors to industry leading clients locally and around the world. Since its inception in 1997, CWA has grown steadily to over 70 professional employees and has maintained a strong balance sheet in its 20-year history.
Headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, with branch offices in Saskatoon and Columbia, CWA has established an excellent reputation as a leader in the engineering consultancy industry, with a strong client base and a high percentage of repeat business. CWA has a strong management team, excellent employees and is well-positioned for growth. “We strive to build long-term relationships with our clients by delivering successful projects that meet their ever-changing business needs,” says Ray Chu, President. “We offer a diverse range of services including planning, engineering, procurement and construction management to see a project through its entire lifecycle.”
With the global demand for mining minerals in recent years, CWA has taken a lead role in many mining and minerals, and ports and terminals projects – another testimony to how CWA has been able to take its core expertise and branch out into other sectors. The company’s project list in Canada includes: the Major Potash and Coal Capacity Upgrades for Canpotex and Teck Resources at Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver, the Highland Valley Copper Pebble Crushing Facility near Kamloops, Berth #1 Rehabilitation Project for Kinder Morgan at Vancouver Wharves in North Vancouver and the Nickel Concentrate and Limestone Processing Facility for Vale-Inco/IEM in Long Harbour, Newfoundland. Expanding into the public sector as well, in 2009, CWA was engaged as the Prime Consultant by Metro Vancouver for the Cleveland Dam Project.
Meeting Industry Needs
Over the last two decades, CWA has solidified its place as an industry leader, completing projects across Canada on sawmills, OSB plants, engineered wood plants, and fiber handling facilities. Expanding its reach, CWA also diversified into steam and power systems, bio-mass co-generation facilities and alternative energy systems for leading forest industry clients, including Canfor, Tolko and Weyerhaeuser.
“With experience in engineering and design, construction, plant operations and facility maintenance, our team of professionals combine a high level of technical knowledge with hands-on field experience,” says Chu. “We apply this experience and knowledge base to projects of all sizes, from upgrades and maintenance to capital greenfield projects.”
In 2006, CWA began its inroad into the marine terminal and construction materials sectors, with projects on marine load-out and materials handling systems for CEMEX (previously Rinker Cement) in the US. CWA also conducted major studies for a new coal export terminal for MPX in Colombia, a coal import facility for Windalco in Jamaica, and ship loading lead, zinc and copper concentrates for CTC in Peru. These international projects, along with projects in Canada for Teck Cominco, Lafarge, Lehigh and Kinder Morgan at Vancouver Wharves marked CWA’s successful expansion into the marine terminal and construction materials sectors.
Internationally, CWA provided engineering and procurement services to Oyu Tolgoi for the Copper Concentrate Bagging Facility in Mongolia—the world’s largest bagging facility for cohesive bulk materials; to Americas Petrogas for the Potash Brine Solar Evaporation Project in Peru; to Trafigura for the Burnside Marine Terminal Project in Louisiana; and recently, CWA was awarded the EPCM contract by Coalspur for the Vista Coal Project near Hinton, Alberta – one of largest undeveloped thermal coal projects in North America.
“We prepared a preliminary scoping study, including time and motion studies and development of schedule and cost control documentation; detailed mechanical, structural and electrical design; tendering, technical construction support and commissioning services,” says Chu. “CWA successfully met the aggressive schedule requirements of the project and within 11 months, we were able to: issue over 435 engineering drawings, review over 5,000 shop drawings, answer over 150 RFI’s, review over 200 vendor documents, issue and evaluate over 50 procurement packages.”
Fabrication and equipment supply occurred both in China and North America, while CWA assisted with procurement on both continents including placing staff in China for quality assurance and expediting purposes.
“We have a strong team of senior staff members who have worked as owner’s representatives, plant managers, construction managers, and fabrication and maintenance engineers,” says Chu. “We want to take our core expertise and offer effective solutions to our clients worldwide.”
Another key project for CWA is the current capacity expansion program at Neptune Terminal. CWA was engaged by Neptune Bulk Terminals to provide ECPM services for the $75 million upgrade to their coal stacking and reclaiming conveyor system by integrating an additional stacker/reclaimer into the system along with upgraded power supply to the site.
“CWA successfully upgraded Neptune’s existing coal stacking and reclaiming conveyor system to increase throughput capacity from approximately 8.5 million tonnes to 12.5 million tonnes per year, while minimizing impact to existing operations,” says Chu. “We developed the project budget, schedule and contract strategy and managed the engineering contracts as Prime Consultants for the project. In addition to EPCM management, CWA was responsible for the detailed design of all conveyors and modifications of the existing conveyor and surge bin, utilizing 3D modeling and DEM.”
CWA also worked with Canpotex to complete detailed design for the $35 million expansion of the existing potash facility at Neptune Bulk Terminals. The expansion was constrained by the size of the existing surge bin, and the existing infrastructure on site. “Through utilizing state-of-the-art technology, we designed the “expanded flow” surge bin that doubled the bin capacity for the same height. The surge bin, with two infeed and two outfeed conveyors, was completely constructed beside its final position, then seamlessly moved into place and commissioned during shutdown,” says Chu.
Strong Global Partnerships
With an increased demand from China for resources from North America, has translated into more new terminals and expansions for CWA. “We see excellent opportunity for growth in the mining sectors as it embarks on its next up-cycle,” says Chu. “Many countries from Asia, particularly China, require resources from Canada and USA. We have successfully delivered many mine infrastructure projects over the past 10 years.”
CWA aspires to build on its already successful engineering consultancy business to capture a larger share of the market. “In particular, CWA has a “sweet spot” project size in the $20M to $200M capital range,” says Chu. “We are set up and well-positioned to carry out up to half a dozen of those projects simultaneously.”
CWA is also a leading consultant in the ports and marine terminal sector. Port infrastructure in Canada and the US is aging and in need of upgrades and revitalization. “Operators are looking into new port facilities, upgrades, and expansions to increase their capacity output to Asian countries,” says Chu. “British Columbia is geographically well-positioned to export our agricultural, timber, and mining resource products overseas and import manufactured goods from Asia with updated terminal facilities. We have done work and maintained excellent relationships with terminal operators in Western Canada, the Gulf Coast in the USA, and Latin America.”
With plans to continue to grow organically, CWA aims to take advantage of strategic alliance and teaming opportunities. “We invite input from other leaders in the company to strategize near-term and long-term plans for the company,” says Chu.
Through their consultancy work, CWA envisions greater opportunities to grow its business with the EP (Engineering/Procurement) and EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) models, often favoured by their clients. “We have set up CSI (CWA Systems Inc.) to deliver projects to our clients using those models,” says Chu.
“We consistently look for opportunities to team up with reputable international service providers and quality, lower-cost base manufacturers to deliver larger size projects under CSI. Our philosophy is simple: we place our clients’ interests first and uphold their business objectives throughout every phase of the project.”