O3_Insider: Workface Planning

Workface Planning

Most of the value and benefit associated with implementing Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) is realized in the construction phase of the project, with the use of Workface Planning (WFP). This is where all the upstream work that the project team has done to assess the best installation sequence and get Engineering & Procurement activities aligned to that sequence pays dividends. The construction team is now able to perform efficiently and effectively, rather than just dealing with whatever information is thrown at them in whatever order it is available.

The early stages of the project are set up for AWP success, and the benefits are realized during construction. But that doesn’t mean that construction work just happens efficiently, purely as a result of properly sequenced Engineering and Procurement deliverables. There is still work to be done at the site to ensure that those upstream deliverables are properly translated into executable work in the field.

Workface Planning is an attempt to get away from the old-school approach of handing a stack of drawings to a Foreperson and getting them to work on whatever is available. The AWP process will lay the foundation for this change, but Workface Planning still needs to finish it off. And that involves taking the deliverables from Engineering and Procurement and breaking them down further.

This granular scoping activity is carried out by a new role on most projects – a Workface Planner. This is the person responsible for taking a Construction Work Package (CWP) scope and breaking it into bite-sized pieces that individual crews can work on. These packages, known as Installation Work Packages (IWP), should be the work for a single crew for a short time period – usually one to two weeks.

The IWP will contain all the information that the crew needs to perform the scope of work, from start to finish, without delays or impacts. Instead of the Foreperson and crew spending the majority of their time scrambling to find missing drawings, missing materials, chasing RFIs, or one of the hundred other issues that get in the way of execution in the field, they can focus on safe and efficient installation and move seamlessly onto the next package.

The most common push-back on this approach is cost, especially relating to the Workface Planners. Modern construction projects already suffer from bloated indirect budgets and adding more people to the office space can seem like a backward step. But if one Planner can support the work of 50 to 100 craft personnel in the field, and each day those 100 people are 10% more efficient than they would otherwise have been, then the work of one Planner has saved the equivalent of 10 people, every day. So NOT using a Workface Planner is the false economy.

Planners are also becoming more and more efficient in creating and issuing IWPs with the use of AWP software, like O3’s ONBuild™. This software uses the engineering 3D model, augmented with construction detail and interfaced with other tools such as materials management and document management to create graphical work packages. In a matter of minutes, the Planner can use the model view to select various visible model components and add them to an IWP. And the sophisticated program can then automatically associate drawings, materials, and work steps to the package, as well as create an estimate for the scope of work. So, the days when a Planner would need to spend hours and hours trawling through a stack of drawings and doing manual material take-offs are far behind us.

The work of the Planner doesn’t stop at the creation of the IWP (or Test Work Package – TWP – for testing scope). The Planner then has to assess all of the possible impediments to the efficient execution of the work, known as Constraints. These can include drawings, materials, access to the work location, permits, scaffolding, inspections – anything that could cause the crew to have to pause midway through their work. Each of these constraints is identified and assigned to a user to track and closeout. So, for example, when the material for the IWP arrives on site, the material constraint can be closed. And O3 is the first and only software that not only identifies constraints but also actively manages them and their associated workflows.

Workface Planning, if done well, has been shown to reduce field hours by as much as 25% by identifying, carefully planning, removing roadblocks, and only issuing work to the field crews when they are ready to be executed. And O3’s industry-leading ONBuild Workface Planning software solution can make this process efficient, effective, and highly visible.

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