Case Study: Insight-AWP Partners with Bentley and Wins!

New construction, $450 million.
Houston, USA
End of project summary
Winner of the ‘Be Inspired’ award from Bentley.

Changing Minds and Paradigms

The Challenge:

In November 2014 Insight-AWP was engaged by a Houston area refinery to apply Advanced Work Packaging and deliver a stable construction environment with predictable project outcomes to one of their construction projects. The typical North American construction contractors are quite cavalier when it comes to planning and it is typically done on the fly by the Foremen. The Foreman looks around at 6 am to see what manpower and materials they have and then sets out to keep his workforce busy for the day. Our challenge was to move this planning process upstream and off the Foreman’s plate so that they could do what they are paid to do: Supervise safety, productivity, and quality.

The Solution:

Insight-AWP had worked with ConstructSim before and this project was the sixth time that we have used it on a mega project, so we had a good understanding of how to use it to optimize our deliverables. We were very confident that our model for Workface Planning would bring long-term benefits to the project, but we needed both the support of information management and the sexy, in your face, data visualization that wins over the construction cowboys. So we selected ConstructSim as our tool of choice and engaged Bentley to provide the software and the support services that would meet our needs.

The Details:

The project was unique in that the construction contract was a fixed price. The owner realized that they were still exposed to risk through claims and schedule compliance so they offered to pay for the cost of planning and the software. This still put us in a position where we were coaching the contractor on how to build plans in an environment where the contractor would normally be left alone to execute as they saw fit. The first couple of weeks were quite tense and we experienced heavy resistance from the contractor. While the idea of planning seemed fundamentally good to them, it was the 3D images of project data from ConstructSim that helped the construction team get onboard. It was like a light came on for the contractors and they quickly realized that the combination of planning and information management that came from ConstructSim was a win/win business model.

Kudos go out to the Bentley and Insight-AWP team members who were the boots on the ground during this stage. Their patient approach helped the team focus on removing roadblocks rather than finding excuses. This leadership eventually turned our strongest opponents into our greatest advocates.
This was the first time that we had worked with the i-model and the Work Package Server and we were tentative about the ‘hands off’ feel of the process. Kenny and Joel’s professionalism helped us to feel more comfortable and we eventually came to appreciate the fact that we could hand them a dog’s breakfast of data and receive a functioning i-model in return.The Work Package Server was the ideal application of a document control model that we have been

The Work Package Server was the ideal application of a document control model that we have been advocating for many years. A single source of online documents where the contractor can search and pull electronic documents as they need them, this allowed us to manage document revisions with near-zero
lag time. This is the first time that I can remember a project where we had virtually no issues with construction working off the wrong revision drawing. The proof of how effective this process was is that the Contractors scaled down their Document Control departments and relied upon the Work Package
Server and their Workface Planners as their source for project documents.

The true value of data management in ConstructSim became evident early in the project when we needed to ship modules from the mod yard before they were complete and we needed to know exactly what was not complete, whether we had the materials and how many work hours we had to move to the fixed price contract. The ConstructSim admin produced this graphic within a couple of hours and the project folks, standing agape, started to realize the power of data managed in a 3D environment.

As the project progressed we had numerous examples of complex questions posed by the construction management team that were typically answered on the same day. We also had the usual series of issues that come from the intense scrutiny of data, like steel members out in space and naming convention errors that had gone unnoticed. ConstructSim quickly high-lighted these issues allowing our engineering team to focus on specific solutions.4D simulations:

4D simulations:

One of the key features of ConstructSim is the ability to communicate complex scenarios. A good example of this is the application of 4D simulations: 3D images colour coded and sequenced to visualize the schedule. Typically a construction meeting that walks through the sequence of the schedule will create a different interpretation for each person. By playing the 4D simulation to the constructors, the scheduler created a single understanding of the plan. This also created conversations around constructability and frequently these meetings ended up changing the sequence of the schedule into a series of events that made sense for the construction trades. In the attached video clip the Equipment, Steel, and Pipe appear as they are scheduled to be installed and then change colour as they are connected, aligned and inspected. Each group of objects represents a single Installation Work Package, which is normally one week of work for one Foreman and crew. As the project progressed the contractors used this simulation to prioritize material deliveries, scaffold development, and crane utilization. Our struggles with the alignment of the construction schedule to work packages prevented
In Fabrication
Module 41B Total Hours not progressed: 3104
us from optimizing this feature, but it still had a positive influence on the overall communication of the plan.
Installation Work Packages:
While the construction contractors where still enjoying their new found level of project knowledge the Bentley/Insight team were busy working on the heart of the process: Creating Installation Work Packages and managing constraints. The team worked with the Workface Planners from the Contractors who quickly adapted to the software’s intuitive interface. The creation of Steel and Pipe work packages showed the Foremen what to do and that they could do it was all the encouragement that the Superintendents needed to get on board. The conversations in the construction meetings started to lean towards work packages and open work fronts instead of the usual ambiguous talk about “trying to get stuff done”. A little later in the project the Superintendents also got to use the field tablet format that gave them live packages and 3D images in the field at the workface. The foremen adapted easily to the natural structure of the work packages and appreciated the simple communication of complex scenarios through the combination of 3D images and detailed drawings.
Early in the project material availability was an issue. The material received reports were not reliable and it was business as usual (scrambling for material) until the Bentley/Insight team stepped into track materials in ConstructSim. The ability to understand what was needed along with what we had, gave the project a new dimension of understanding and the work crews were re-directed to accomplish work that could be executed rather than the normal process of executing “opportune work fronts”. This had a significant positive impact on productivity, schedule and morale.
And the best was yet to come:
As work was executed the progress was recorded in ConstructSim, creating a single version of the truth that showed: How much was getting done and more importantly, what could be done next. The contractors liked this simple accounting system so much that they abandoned their own project controls processes and relied totally upon ConstructSim for progress management.
With some resistance the process of utilizing the Installation Work Packages to populate the construction schedule eventually started. This allowed ConstructSim to facilitate a direct correlation between the reality of visualized work package progress and the level 4 construction schedule.
The end result was a weekly progress report like this one that showed a very clear picture of reality, allowing the construction contractors to make decisions based upon a finite understanding of work fronts and actual progress.
With the core of the project stabilized through IWPs in ConstructSim, the rest of the project started to benefit from this absence of the usual chaos. A fine example is Scaffold management. Now that the piping trades were confident with their plan they could order scaffold in advance and have it ready and fit for purpose before they needed it. The Scaffold Company jumped on this stability and used it to optimize their own processes, reducing the overall cost of scaffold to 18% of the direct hours for labour. Typically this is 25% or more, so the reduction was at least 7% of the total construction hours.
Steel erection:
The erection of steel was positively influenced by the addition of steel piece mark numbers in the i-model. The capacity of Bentley to process this distinct data from the fabricators allowed the Workface Planners to develop itemized material pick lists from ConstructSim, which facilitated the Bag and Tag process in the material yard. When the work was complete the unique piece marks could be progressed in ConstructSim, which produced both earned value and definitive work fronts for pipe. Normally this data is not available and the ordering, erection and progressing of steel is completed in crayon on the back of cigarette packs, another paradigm shift.
Hydro-tests and System Turnover:
With support from the Bentley team, the site administrator developed hydro test and turnover system packages. The overlay of progress applied to each work package produced a “work to go” list that focussed the construction team on the work required to prepare for hydro-testing and then the correct sequence of priorities for system turnover, which in turn helped the project achieve a smooth transition into commissioning and start up.
While the total impact that the organised execution of steel and pipe work fronts had on the project is hard to quantify, we do know that at a late stage in the project that pipe had been installed at 2.3 hours per foot and this would normally be expected to be 3 or 3.5 hours. This shows at least a 25% increase in productivity for pipe, which is probably the same impact that we experienced with steel. So in order to establish some rough order of magnitude for the impact of ConstructSim, the Work Package Server and work packaging we have used the following generally held guidelines.
• The cost of construction is typically 40% of the Total Installed Cost.
• Pipe and Steel are typically 40% of the hours in construction.
When we add the 7% reduction in scaffold, (12 Million), we end up with a quantifiable cost avoidance of > $30 Million. Add to this the knock on effect that organised steel and pipe had on instrumentation, electrical, insulation and turnover and it is fair to say that the direct cost avoidance was somewhere greater than $36 Million, which was 8% of the Total Installed Cost. It is also fair to say that the schedule was reduced by the same amount, which avoided the cost of overheads for 6 weeks.
Return on Investment:
The total investment for software, services, management and Workface Planners for the project was approximately $3 Million so this gives us a ROI of at least 1100% ($33 Million) + reduced indirects and schedule, world class safety performance and a good measure of career enhancing project performance for the project team.
On top of the direct benefits from optimal productivity the project also benefitted from a reduction of indirect office staff during the project, through the reduced effort required for document control, progress management, field engineering and schedule management. Although it was widely recognised that the material management system was inefficient it is also true that it would have been a lot worse without the added stability of ConstructSim and IWPs. The capacity of ConstructSim to develop definition around RFIs and Change Orders also significantly reduced the ambiguity around the cost and impact of changes. This was demonstrated when the contractor ask for compensation due to the large number of random pipe lengths. ConstructSim was used to identify the exact number and size of random lengths, which were then multiplied by the time required for each cut and bevel, creating a clear, concise point of agreement.
$MillionTotal Installed Cost450Construction (40%)450x .4 =180Pipe and Steel (40%)180x .4 =72Productivity Increase (25%)72x.25 =18Cost Avoidence18
And perhaps the single greatest benefit that comes from the stable execution of work fronts is a safe environment. The project completed 1.6 million work-hours without a single lost time incident, which is a unique outcome for this industry and recognized as world class performance. While the credit for this amazing achievement goes directly to the craft workforce, we do need to recognize that the safety programs applied by the project were given the chance to flourish due to the foundation of organised implementation that comes from ConstructSim.
Outside of the significant positive impact experienced by the project, one of the other very important outcomes of this initiative was that the industry needed to experience these results. For some time now the industry has been poised to get started down this road of Advanced Work Packaging, now that the Construction Industry Institute (CII) have declared it a Best Practice. So knowing that typically the second mouse gets the cheese, it was very important for us to demonstrate that the results of AWP and IM through ConstructSim are real and achievable, even if you are the first mouse.
So in summary we had an Owner who needed predictable outcomes, several contractors who were at risk and needed an effective execution strategy, a scaffold company that was frustrated by the lack of influence they had over their own results, an industry that was poised to change their paradigm and an AWP project management company that needed a catalyst. Like a bushfire, the environment had oxygen and fuel (need and desire) and all it needed was the spark from ConstructSim and the WPS to create change.
The Results:
One thing is absolutely certain and that is that we have a very happy Owner, we have Contractors who now have a new business model, everybody still has all of their fingers and toes, we have a scaffold company who are selling the virtues of planning of ConstructSim to their other business partners, we have new hope in an industry that was hungry for change and our company has a solid business case for Information Management to support Advanced Work Packaging.
The results speak for themselves and we know that years from now we will look back at this project and understand that this was the tipping point where the industry transitioned from the concept of information management to the concrete application of ConstructSim and work packaging.