Advanced Work Packaging & Workface Planning

By Josh Girvin, O3 Solutions CEO

The terms Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) and Workface Planning (WFP) are often used interchangeably on projects, which can lead to confusion. They aren’t the same thing.

AWP is the entire process, spanning multiple project phases, typically from FEL2 (Select) to commissioning and start-up (C&SU).

WFP is the field portion of the process, focused on construction and C&SU. WFP is a subset of the overall AWP process.

So why does it matter?

AWP started out as WFP, with the plan to correct field performance issues by making the work at site more efficient. Despite some limited successes, it was quickly apparent that tackling the problem at the construction end would only bring limited results. To have a meaningful impact on the project would require the planning process to be brought forward into the engineering stages. This is where the “Advanced” part comes from.

The work in the early stages of the project is all about laying a foundation for success during the construction phase. Without this, any benefits from WFP will be limited. During the FEL2 and FEL3, the project can be set up for successful AWP implementation by considering and planning a number of key activities:

Break the work site into Construction Work Areas (CWAs) that will form the basis for scope breakdown.

Define the optimal sequence of installation, known as the Path of Construction.

Sequence engineering and procurement to support the Path of Construction.

Overlay and consider project strategies for Turnaround, Modularization/Fabrication and Contracting Strategy so that the work package breakdown supports the execution plan.

Align the schedule to the Path of Construction, and the estimate to the work breakdown, so that your Project Controls deliverables can be tracked against your work packaging efforts.

Create a 3D model with data attributes to support work packaging.

Align your various tools to provide data to your work packaging software.

That sounds like a lot and can appear a little overwhelming at first. But for all these items, the concept remains the same: You will do this planning at some stage of the project, whether it is during the early engineering stages with key personnel, or when you have a crew of tradespeople standing in the field waiting for a response. By doing this planning process early you avoid falling into the trap that many projects do, where issues are pushed downhill until they are resolved at the last possible moment. (“Contractor to verify”!)

If this foundation has not been established, the installation contractor will be left to make the most of what they are given. Typically, this involves the same struggles as non-AWP projects, where engineering deliverables are sporadic and don’t come in a sequence that is useful to construction. The field scope activities become reactive, jumping from area to area based on what is available, rather than what makes sense.

Does this mean that WFP is useless without the initial AWP effort?

Absolutely not. There is still benefits to be gained from planning the work, even if the upfront deliverables have not been completed. The contractor can still arrange their available scope in workable packages, assess constraints, perform work only when it is ready, and easily show impacts to schedule and cost based on Owner deliverables. The benefits relating to safety and quality can also be gained, at least in part, by more careful planning.

But it needs to be understood that the majority of outcomes and benefits will not be nearly as effective. The performance gains will be reduced, schedule performance increases will be marginal, and predictability will be limited by backwards-looking indicators.

Owners will typically have the ultimate say over the use and timing of AWP, so they need to understand the criticality of early implementation. Workface Planning can be successful without AWP, but will always be far more successful when used as the end stage of a full project lifecycle process.

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