Engineering projects within the heavy industry and manufacturing sector take on many shapes and sizes. These projects, whether in a factory, foundry or other facility, often require different depths of expertise. Given the many variables associated with heavy industry and manufacturing projects, it’s important to have an effective project management plan. At Gausman & Moore one of our primary mechanical engineers, Andy Zurn, PE, has developed such a plan.

 

“The key is to drive an efficient project process and provide comprehensive and focused solutions that are reliable and maintenance friendly,” said Zurn, who has 30+ years of industrial engineering experience.

The core project management skills are versatile and can be applied to all types of projects, Andy said. The first step is interviewing key end users and project owners. This includes operations and maintenance managers and plant process engineers. It’s essential to understand their issues and concerns and desired outcomes and goals.

 

With the goals in mind, the next step is evaluating what resources and equipment is presently available and what new equipment needs to be supplied to achieve the project’s goals. The G&M team will work with key stakeholders to review their goals and determine what needs to occur to move forward. A meeting with key end users and management is important for fine tuning the project scope and managing expectations.

 

From there the engineer’s job is to flush out the project unknowns and further define the project scope. This process, called front-end loading the project, is helpful for determining the project’s budget and timeline. It’s not unusual for stakeholders to not know what a project’s budget or schedule will be. The initial interviews with key stakeholders pay dividends in this phase because the engineer has an excellent understanding of the project and its needs.

“The project owners can now own the outcome of the project and are an essential part of the solution,” said Zurn.

 

Detailed system design and equipment specification is also performed in this phase. A reliable process design helps ensure safety for the people operating equipment and working in an industrial setting. Properly sized equipment is inherently safer. It’s also important to properly lay out equipment to allow for safe maintenance. Further enhancing safety are elements like proper lighting and adequate lifting systems like monorails.

 

Once a project is approved the construction management phase can begin.  This phase involves scheduling contractors and construction equipment (Ex. cranes), sequencing materials delivery, managing the project schedule and tracking the budget. An engineer must know how to properly evaluate bids and determine the proper equipment to install. Sometimes this means learning new industrial technology. For example, Zurn said he had to learn about field erected cooling towers and their critical features while working on a project. The ability to learn new technologies and find unique solutions is what makes the job fun and endlessly interesting.

 

“There’s always something new and you’re always faced with unique challenges. You’re often starting from scratch with industrial projects,” said Zurn. “I take great pride in helping people improve their work setting, solve complex problems and deliver a project that is specified and installed properly.”

 

Once construction is complete the commissioning phase begins. Operations and maintenance staff are very involved in this process since they’ll be the primary users of the equipment. The equipment is started and monitored to ensure it’s operating as designed.

 

Once all project phases are complete the documentation and equipment specifications are properly organized and stored. This will help future users when they encounter new projects and facility needs.

 

For additional information about Gausman & Moore’s industrial sector expertise, please contact Andy Zurn at 651-604-3105 or via email at azurn@gausman.com.

Andy Zurn