O3_Insider: Advanced Work Packaging 101

By Josh Girvin, O3 Solutions CEO

Josh Girvin, O3 CEO and Founder, sits down with Andrew Foy, VP of AWP and Construction Excellence, to ask questions about Advanced Work Packaging 101.

Despite its increasing popularity and use in capital projects within industrial construction, there are still a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about what Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) actually is. This confusion is most often highlighted when I hear people talking about “building AWPs”. So today we are going to take a step back and go over the basics of what AWP is and how it works.

At its core, AWP is a planning methodology for projects which looks to address the continuing decline of construction productivity. While other industries get more and more efficient, industrial construction has been stagnant or deteriorating since the fifties. AWP is a project execution system that can reverse this trend by focusing on two key principles:

1. Develop the optimum sequence for installation.

This might seem like a simple goal, but it is far less commonly used than you might think. On most projects, before AWP was introduced, engineering deliverables were completed in a sequence that was optimal for the Engineering contractor and handed to the Construction contractor to execute. Little or no thought was given to how the installation activities should be sequenced, beyond perhaps some cursory constructability reviews.

With AWP, the installation sequence (referred to as the Path of Construction) becomes the critical early deliverable for project planning, especially for fast-tracked projects where Engineering and Construction will see a significant schedule overlap. Construction expertise is brought onto the project much earlier than before, usually starting in the FEL2 phase (also known as the Select phase). This early engagement will allow Construction to dictate their preferred sequence for execution of the site work, rather than just being handed information in whatever order it becomes available.

The Path of Construction then becomes the basis for Engineering and Procurement priorities, as well as the overall project integrated schedule. So why are we asking for Construction to become the driving force behind the project planning? Because Construction is nearly always:

– The highest number of manhours on a project.

– The greatest execution risk on a project.

– The highest cost on a project.

That being the case, it is important that Construction drives Engineering and Procurement, rather than being considered an afterthought in the planning process.

Once the plans have been set and a suitable scope breakdown has been agreed, Engineering deliverables are grouped into work packages known as EWPs (Engineering Work Packages), that are completed and delivered in the agreed sequence. Procurement will also ensure that Required At Site (RAS) dates appropriate for the support of the Path of Construction can be met and that all the necessary material is on-site to execute each package.

2. Execute field installation scope in an efficient manner.

This is where AWP began when the initial thought was to address field productivity rates in the field. (Before the “Advanced” part was introduced to include the Engineering phases). This process of organizing the field scope is called Workface Planning (WFP).

It is an attempt to move away from the old-school approach of executing installation by handing a Foreperson a stack of isometrics (for example) and leaving them to figure out what material is available and what to do first.

Once the Engineering and Procurement deliverables have been packaged and sequenced, the field execution packages known as CWPs (Construction Work Packages) can be broken down and executed in bite-size chunks equivalent to the work of one crew for one week. These packages are known as IWPs (Installation Work Packages).

A Workface Planner, which is a dedicated position that creates the IWPs, will compile a small scope of work from the ‘parent’ CWP and issue it as an IWP. Before issuing it, the Workface Planner will assess and remove all constraints on the work, which are any items that might impede its execution from start to finish. The IWP work is then executed by the crew, who have everything they need to work safely and efficiently.

AWP is the overall process, from early engineering to commissioning. WFP is the field part, relating to installation, testing, and turnover.

So, AWP is all about early planning and constraint-free field execution, with the aim of improving project performance and results. There is, of course, quite a bit more to it than that, and we will cover each area in more detail in future posts.

For more information on AWP 101 please contact us at info@o3.solutions.

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