Effective Engineering progress monitoring

Thursday, 05 December 2013
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Engineering progress is commonly measured by assigning a weight, usually the required number of required manhours, to each task/deliverable. Once the task is performed/ the deliverable is issued, the corresponding manhours are earned.

The earned progress divided by the total number of manhours gives the % progress.

As each engineering task/deliverable is scheduled at certain dates, it is possible to anticipate the progress that should be earned at a given date. It is the planned progress.

At regular period, usually on a monthly basis, the actual progress of each activity/deliverable is measured against the planned progress. An actual progress less than the planned progress might show a lack of resources and a need for increased mobilization to get back on plan, following a (re-)forecast progress curve.

Although such progress measure is commonly used, it could be deceiving. It indeed reflects rather well the progress of engineering on its own but not how well is engineering supporting the Project schedule.

Let’s consider that engineering must issue 2 material requisitions, an urgent one for a Long Lead Item and another one which is required later on. Engineering will earn progress whatever requisition it issues, even if putting the Project in delay by issuing the non urgent requisition first.

One sees that the above measure of progress alone is insufficient. It must be complemented by monitoring that important Milestones are met.

These Milestones are first of all, the ones associated with the issue of the Requisition for the equipment. Long lead items have naturally to be purchased early. All equipment and packages also need to be purchased as early as their technical definition allows. Indeed, engineering development is highly dependent on information from vendors. The sooner the purchase orders are placed the sooner the vendor information will be available.

Next come the Milestones associated with Bulk Material Procurement to support construction, such as the Piping MTO and the Structural Steel MTO (for an off-shore Project).

Then come the Milestones associated with Construction. These are the IFC Plot Plan, a pre-requisite to start any site work, and the IFC P&IDs, a pre-requisite to the issue of Piping isometrics. The 50% IFC Piping isometric milestone comes next, which typically falls half way through the Project, as ensuing works, such as pre-fab and erection have a rather incompressible duration, due to site constraints (capacity of pre-fab shop, space constraints for erection limiting the progress).

Even if engineering deliveries are in sequence, the above engineering progress measure might still be deceiving, as it will only reflect the amount of engineering work completed and not the workfront made available to construction.

Let’s consider for instance that two foundations are to be cast. The first one is a very large foundation and the second one a small one. Issuing the drawing of either the large or small foundation will earn engineering the same progress, although it will open quite a different workfront to Construction.

One sees the necessity to measure the issued Workfront.

In the case of foundations, for instance, this will be done by monitoring the cumulative quantity of concrete (m3) of all issued IFC foundation drawings.

Producing an S curve, such as the one shown here, showing both planned and actually issued quantities will give a true picture of how well engineering is supporting civil works.

One will similarly monitor, for an On-Shore project, the cumulative quantity of steel (tons) of issued IFC Structural drawings.

The cumulative tons (or dia inch) of IFC issued Piping isometrics will show the available piping workfront.

Such progress curves, showing the actual versus planned available workfronts are instrumental to monitor engineering progress, identify shortage and take corrective actions (increase mobilisation).

It is not perfect however and can still be deceiving, in case of out-of-sequence issues: engineering may have issued drawings representing significant quantities, but that does not generate construction workfront as such works can not be performed at this time (due to lack of access or pre-requisite for another work to be completed before, for instance).

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