Assembly Line Efficiency
Raymond Viguerie and, more recently his son Peter, have been building pushboats at a yard on a bayou just off the Itntacoastal Waterway that skirts the Gulf of Mexico. Their Intracoastal Ironworks sits between the bayou and the Bourg-LaRoxe Highway has recently expanded into the neighboring property.
In the past they have built a variety of boats, but in recent years focused their efforts on a standard 72- by 30- by 10-foot push boat with two steering and four flanking rudders. Powered by a pair of Cummins (CMI) 12-cylinder 38-liter engines, each producing 1,000 HP at 1,800 RPM, they are, explained Peter Viguerie, “just right for the tight canals but can still handle the (Mississippi) River. Typically they are pushing two 30,000 barrel barges. On the Intracoastal they push these one wide for an overall length of about 1,300 feet.”
While the yard has been able to increase efficiencies to remain competitive by standardizing much of the vessel, there will be some variation from owner to owner. Some owners will prefer Twin Disc while others may specific Reintjes, although ratios are typically about 6:1. Propellers will vary from 72-74-inch diameter and 54-56 inches of pitch with four or five blades. “Some operators say the five blades are smoother but may not back down as well as the four blades, but they push better so you can back off on the throttle a bit,” Viguerie said.
By mid-October the yard had already delivered five of their standard push boat in 2013 and had number six scheduled for delivery before the end of the year, “We have only about 35-guys in our crew and very few subcontractors,” reported Viguerie, “We will deliver another in January and the next in March. It is taking us about six months to build a boat so we get one out of the yard about every six weeks.