If you’ve been in the industrial or facilities side of the world for a while, you’re probably familiar with the headache that starts about the time you find out you have an expansion or maintenance project coming up. You don’t have time to make sure the engineers and architect coordinate their work or to babysit the subcontractors while they’re working on site. More frustrating is that even if you wanted to hire someone to manage your project, most of the big industry players wouldn’t look twice at your “small” (read: under $20 million) project.
All that being said, it doesn’t mean engineers haven’t figured out ways to solve some of these problems. Based on the experiences of engineers and clients, the following ideas have emerged as good rules of thumb for managing your process engineering project:
- Find an engineering firm that has your project’s key disciplines in-house, including mechanical, electrical, controls, and process engineering. Some firms even have an architecture department that specializes in damage limiting and industrial construction.
- Make sure your contract designates a single point of responsibility for ALL areas of a project, all the way from design, permitting, procurement, construction, to start up. This helps ensure you’re not left holding the bag with subcontractors, etc. after the job is finished.
- You can often “expedite” a project by using preliminary design drawings to specify and order long lead equipment, start early permitting, and work with local authorities to ensure there are no surprises down the road, all before the final construction drawing set is complete.
- Use a firm that employs their own site superintendents and site engineers who can work with the subcontractors to make sure equipment is handled and installed correctly and who can work out any design issues as they occur.
- Write your contract to include performance, rather than mechanical completion; this will ensure that your plant is running according to your specifications by the time the job is complete.