Voices of HED - Philip Granitz
In recognition of the amazing people that make our firm exceptional, we asked our team some questions about their role and what inspires them and their work.
Today, we're recognizing Philip Granitz, PE, an Electrical Engineer and Principal Emeritus in our Detroit office.
1. What was the most recent project you completed with HED?
It Is still under construction; it is Primarily a mechanical project to provide boilers for a facility that is currently fed from a district steam system. The reason for doing this is a cost savings opportunity. What makes this special to me is many years ago I work on this building when it was converted from a car manufacturing facility to an office building for a computer manufacture with a computer show room as a main entrance.
What did you learn on that project?
A whole lot about mechanical systems! This business is one of constant learning and absorbing information, and learning to know how to apply it to the current and then future work assignments
2. What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part is solving the questions/issues that are part of every assignment. It involves working with people to understand their concerns and then finding reasonable solutions to them.
What attracted you to this role?
You may say I fell in to it many, many years ago when I was a senior in high school, I was asked by an individual that needed some drafting help because he and his partner had just gotten their first big project and needed some drafting. He knew I had drafting in high school, so I said yes.
3. What do you wish people outside the industry understood about your job?
Over the years job titles change and the types of questions remain for the most part the same, which is this is a problem and how you solve it. To me it is like a puzzle or a math problem, you investigate, look at options, and find a solution that is acceptable from a systems standpoint as well as costs.
4. What do you wish people inside the industry would understand about your job?
It really boils down to finding solutions that meet specific requirements, code compliance, costs, aesthetics, and of course functionality.
5. What do you love about your job?
Solving problems/ finding solutions to questions, and of course explaining how and why I came to the solution.
6. What assignment or project are you most proud of?
The one project over the years that comes to mind is one that occurred in 2000. The firm was doing a project for Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, which was a new building attached to the existing hospital called the West Pavilion. During the design process, I found that the three existing Utility Primary Electrical Service Lines to the hospital would not support the new addition’s electrical load requirements. Thus, after much discussion it was finally agreed that the new addition would be fed from two new Utility Company Primary Electrical Service Lines.
The loading based on my analysis showed that the existing lines would not support the new loads, and I indicated that even if one of the existing three lines failed with the current loading, when it’s load would transfer to the alternate line it to would trip/open due to an overload condition (the sum of both lines). This was not what hospital management wanted to hear. But reluctantly they agreed to have two additional lines added to the site for the West Pavilion.
As it turned out there was a construction error when a contractor was installing a site sign that broke into an on-site Detroit Edison underground duct bank that fed the hospital and shorted out one of the three feeds to the exiting hospital.
As I projected, when the hospital breaker tripped, the load from the damaged cable transferred to one of the remaining two cables and that breaker also tripped due to overload, causing the load (now of two lines) to transfer to the third incoming line breaker which also tripped because total site load was now way over the rating of the remining breaker setting, so it also tripped, leaving the existing facility with only limited emergency generator electric power.
I had very mixed emotions when I was made aware of what happened, as this is exactly what I said would happen if a single line was lost. What made it worse was that the new facility was still weeks away from being occupied. The hospital was left with only minimal generator back up power for several days.
I began working with the utility service and they allowed the hospital to install a temporary primary tie line from the new West Pavilion primary switchgear through the Edison duct bank to the old hospital primary switchgear to refeed the original line that failed. Once that was done the remaining two Edison lines could be energized, thus restoring power to the facility
I then designed a unique six-line utility service for the complex that resulted in having six incoming lines, that could be backed up by either one the adjacent lines. In effect I created a ring buss for the site. This also required a rebalancing of the substation loads so that the loading on any of the six utility lines could accept the load of the adjacent bus.
This system is still in place today and is still operating some nineteen years later without any losses of total power to the site due to a utility cable failure.
So why is this the project I’m most proud of? Because it showed me just how far sometimes things must go before people will act. To this day I monitor the system loading and advise where and how new loads should be tied into the system. Over the years we’ve also added Emergency Generator capacity to meet local power interruptions.
7. What experience (project type, location, dream client etc.) do you hope to have before your career ends?
At this point in my career, after almost 60 years being a part of the same organization, starting when it was a relatively small consulting engineering group to becoming a full-service A&E organization with multiple office across the country and being and still part of it is truly very satisfying. Because of the diversity of the work the firm has done over the years it has allowed me to have a very broad range of experiences: from doing indoor lighting design and major site lighting projects with a wide range of outdoor temperature requirements to doing long range system planning studies for Utility Companies, power distribution systems for airports and the edge lighting for the runway, taxiways, as well as the apron parking areas, as well as power systems and infrastructure for a wide verity of project types. I have been involved in a very wide range of assignments. At this point I do not look for different types of work assignments, they just happen by working with a wide range of clients with various needs.
8. If you could give yourself one piece of advice on your first day at HED, what would it be?
Over the years I truly enjoyed working with knowledgeable people and listening to what they had to say. There is no substitute for experience. One needs to listen and become a sponge when you just start out in this or any profession, and then pass it on to the next generation.