AWP Forgot About Engineering

Blog AWP Engineering

by Josh Girvin, O3’s CEO

Most AWP implementations are a lot like wearing sandals when mowing your lawn.

We spend a huge of time and energy talking about safety in construction at a worksite, filling out lots of forms, having meetings, performing hazard assessments. Then we come home and mow the lawn in sandals.

Engineering suffers from the same lack of attention when it comes to Advanced Work Packaging. AWP is – necessarily – construction-focused. It is an effort to correct a problem that has been brewing for over seventy years, and a lot of what you read talks about the needs of construction and how engineering has to support those needs.

But what about the needs of engineering? Should we just ask them to march to construction’s tune and suffer in silence? Or do we need to spare a thought for their work processes and help make them more efficient?

When asking a team or organization to adopt a process that brings them no value, the chances of success are very low. Many engineering companies will only implement AWP because the owner requires it. Some forward-thinking EPCs will adopt the best practice because they are involved in the full project lifecycle and can see the long-term value for the project goals. But very few engineering companies are implementing AWP because they genuinely believe that it will help them improve engineering performance.

The root of the issue is that not enough has been done to assess and identify the value of AWP to engineering. The whole process is based on engineers being asked to change how they work in order to benefits the ‘bigger picture’ for the project.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

  • Firstly, a piece of equipment supplied by a vendor:
    The engineers need to know the size and weight of the equipment in order to design the foundation that it will sit on and then design adequate piling support for the foundation. Construction, of course, needs the information the other way around. So, we push for the release of the piling information, then the foundation, then the equipment.
  • Secondly, piping systems:
    AWP is based on an area-centric approach which supports construction sequencing and work breakdown. But a single piping system might stretch across multiple work areas. We can’t ask engineering to design by area when some utility lines, for example, could conceivably cross every area.

So how do we start to fix these issues?

As much as we are making an effort to use AWP as a framework to provide engineering with a better understanding of the optimum construction sequence, we need to give our construction teams a better appreciation of the limits of “construction-driven engineering”. For this process to be successful it must be practical. Instead, make it a conversation with the engineers on the project. Explain what construction needs to achieve, but be willing to listen to feedback. Ultimately, everyone is trying to work in the best interests of the project, and collaboration is the only way to do that.

It’s time to create value for engineering. Engineering Work Packages (EWPs) are the ultimate deliverable for engineering, providing the technical basis for Construction Work Packages (CWPs). But these are level three concepts, which are a reporting level rather than an execution level. We wouldn’t expect construction to build a facility using CWPs alone – we insist on Installation Work Packages (IWPs). This level four approach provides far more granularity and detail, where execution steps can be tracked and progress reporting can be much more accurate.

The true value for engineering will come in working at the level four (or sometimes level five) approach:

  • Understand all the various elements that make up the effort to deliver an EWP
  • Track progress against those more granular actions and deliverables
  • Treat EWPs as a rollup of the tasks underneath
  • Understand the constraints and interdependencies of all the level four actions

By completing these steps and adopting an Agile approach to work management, engineering companies can maintain existing work processes, support AWP implementation, give construction what it needs when it needs it, and drive value throughout the organization.

O3 has developed the first purpose-built AWP management tool for engineering deliverables. ONDesign, O3’s engineering specific solution, provides engineering contractors with the detail, data, and structure needed to provide the scope in the same level of detail as a constructor would execute IWPs. O3 has partnered with EP firms to develop new work package types – Design Work Packages and Vendor Work Packages – to drive direct value to engineering regardless of whether the project is in the lifecycle using WorkFace Planning in construction.

AWP was built to help construction, but there is a way to provide direct benefit and value to engineering.

O3 is proud to be working with AWP-mature EP firms that understand this value proposition and are working to change the way that engineering delivers AWP.