Home » Seize the moment: Benefits of early engagement in engineering

Seize the moment: Benefits of early engagement in engineering

by Sion Geschwindt
Some young engineering apprentices being taught by a professional engineer

The team at OCCMS discusses the benefits of early engagement in engineering, while outlining the detrimental aspects of overlooking timely planning

There is no hiding that, in the world of engineering, embracing a ‘left-to-right thinking’ methodology is crucial. This specific mindset allows you to bring into focus the end of your project right from the outset.

Need to produce construction deliverables in a completions-ready fashion? Breaking down the intricate process into commissionable systems offers you the chance to ideate steps to aid both an efficient, and safe, plan of action.

How can you achieve this? Here, we take a look at the benefits of early engagement while outlining the detrimental aspects of overlooking timely planning.

Early engagement vs late engagement

An early engagement approach encourages engineers to envision the completed project from the very beginning. To hit the ground running, and to ensure everything falls smoothly into place, it is important to collaborate with vendors and construction partners. By doing so, you are holding these parties to account while making sure that all the elements work together.

Ultimately, a successful completions philosophy spurs you to follow the project from its earliest stages. This includes paying close attention to design and engineering, discipline-level construction, and handover. What you are doing is keeping an eye on the project’s lifecycle, from mechanical completion to pre-commissioning, commissioning, start-up, and operations.

Late engagement of completions on the project, instead, can conceal an array of negative consequences. Why? Firstly, it can result in substantial delays, which will end up slowing down your plans.

Secondly, your costs may overrun. In fact, construction will race ahead with no visibility of how, or when, the systems being built can be livened up for pre-commissioning. Defects in construction may not delay the mechanical completion of parts of the plan. However, they can hinder commissioning and, therefore, a safe and timely start-up.

“In the world of engineering, embracing a ‘left-to-right thinking’ methodology is crucial”

Embedding a completions management system early in the project can prevent these unwanted obstacles. In fact, it will provide you with immediate visibility of progress towards the eventual commissioning and start-up of both systems and subsystems.

Not only that, but it will help you differentiate and report on construction and pre-commissioning activities by discipline. What’s more, a completions management system allows you to save checksheets and handover certification. It also enables you to store auditable tracking and resolution of punchlisting and technical queries.

Missing a completions approach and baseline standard for the supply chain at the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) or pre-FID (Final Investment Decision) stages can cause issues. This would mean, in fact, that the standard is not woven into the contract clauses of the project’s supply chain.

In this scenario, QA and QC (quality assessment and quality control) variations in the supply chain would take precedence over your own specific plans. This makes it difficult to acquire a common standard for completions or TI (technical integrity) assurance throughout the project delivery.

Useful steps to follow

Having a specific process in place will facilitate the positive outcome of your operations. But what should effective planning and preparation look like? Here are a few steps you may want to take:

  1. Compare your vendor or installer’s QA with what your client’s standard for TI is. This can be carried out at Inspection Test and Plan level. In this way, you will be able to identify any potential gaps early in the project and fill them in accordingly.
  2. Consider connecting a vendor or installer’s digital system to the client system, so that they can effectively use their own. That said, make sure that the system has a modern API functionality or, at least, a simple Excel export function. If not, chances are that the system is not up to the job.
  3. Find a data segregation method to allow the supply chain to use the client’s own system. Of course, this would have to be performed under configurable and appropriate user rights.
  4. Source a way to link the system to the engineering documented asset and digital twin data. This will allow you to efficiently populate the completions management system.
  5. Make full use of paperless checksheets and test procedures. By doing this, you can benefit from live and transparent status from vendor to installer, commissioning, and operations.

If the above baseline is set well in advance across all stakeholders, then the process will be easier to plan and execute. Furthermore, it offers you the opportunity to ascertain and verify progress throughout all the phases of a project.

Conversely, if you lack a solid baseline, the handover quality and status is more difficult to quantify and evaluate. This may also lead to having to deal with problems that have been left untracked and, therefore, unresolved in significant volume. Ultimately, it can represent a blow to your operations and leave you with very little time to fix any unwanted issue.

To conclude, early engagement within a project has a wide range of benefits. Leaving it late to check or organise your plan of action, instead, can hinder the correct flow of the operations. With a few steps in mind, a completions management system can pave the way towards a smooth, linear, and successful outcome. 

 Image credit: goodluz/Shutterstock

Read next: How National Highways is shaping the construction plant of the future

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