A Practitioner's Perspective on ETA Project Delivery
"The broader factors, inherent in NBE engineered-to-application projects, such as facility design considerations, regulatory guidelines, and supply chain integration are what demand a dedicated project management group."
NBE projects contribute so effectively to our customers' process operations because each NBE project is managed from a bigger view, a wider perspective. Of course, NBE projects are highly engineered to deliver the functional complexities necessary to ensure the performance of the project.
But, the broader factors, inherent in NBE engineered-to-application projects, such as facility design considerations, regulatory guidelines, and supply chain integration are what demand a dedicated project management group rather than just a part-time paperwork manager. A typical build-to-order, or engineered-to-order machine builder may think a PM group to be unnecessary - and, for them and their customers, it may be. But, NBE end customers, AEC partners, integrators, and OEMs know differently.
Early-stage Project Management Provides a Fullstream View of Scope and Schedule
Very early in the application engineering stage; often before a project is even accepted by NBE, the NBE project manager participates, with managers from other NBE practice areas, in a review of the project. Already, at this point, by assessing the application's engineering parameters; its sequence of operation, its integrations, its various constraints, and so on, the PM group can bring significant benefit to the customer by identifying possible influences on, and improvements to scope and schedule. This early involvement by the PM enables the NBE bid response to be highly accurate and appropriate in its first submission. And, of course, the more thorough and accurate the early project management is, the more likely the end-project will be on-scope, on-schedule, and on-budget.
Cooperative Change Management: Positive Improvement Versus Reactive Alarm
Throughout the mechanical engineering of an NBE project, the NBE project management group is involved with the ME process to ensure the broader contexts of the application requirements are met. These contexts include the project's performance effectiveness, its operations contribution, even matters of supply chain logistics. To do this requires an in-depth perspective on the mechanics of a project. For example, the NBE project management group, using the mechanical and diagnostic resources of the NBE R&D center, may run material tests to confirm cycle times of a proposed process sequence. Or, the NBE PM group may manage risk assessments; from defining the assessment parameters, and running a design review, to validating the outcome, and preparing the documentation. This type of proactive work by the NBE PM group, on the mechanical aspects of a project, means if changes are brought to a project, those changes are positive improvements, not reactive adjustments.
Communicating the Complexities of Automation with Customer-specific Clarity
More than just equipment connectivity features, NBE automation engineering brings process advantages to our customer operations; from project-wide performance reporting and management information resources, to smart-machine safety and maintenance conditions monitoring. While customer-side engineers and operators are often familiar with the implementation of an automation environment, there are often other customer-side participants who are not comfortable with the complexities and vocabulary of process automation. Because of the varied information needs of our customers, the NBE project management group, throughout project development, and even after start-up, ensures the automation performance and reporting functionality is communicated thoroughly, and appropriately to all customer-side influences.
Process Assurance Built-in by Fabrication and Assembly Project Management
Because each NBE project is engineered-to-application, there's no build-to-order bill of materials to pull and force-fit to the application. Instead, the NBE project management group, together with the NBE assembly practice lead, prepares a project-specific constructability plan. These plans reach from pre-build influences, such as: team assignments, materials of construction specs, and lead time controls; to fab and assembly process management, FAT protocols, and on-site construction strategies. There are definitely customer-side scheduling and costing advantages gained from this NBE fabrication and assembly PM process. But, what customers seem to remember most, long into the future, is the functional performance, the effectiveness of the equipment, and the process assurance that NBE fabrication and assembly provides to a project.
Project Management and Customer Service: The Source of Project Turnover Success
There's not really a distinct point, after a project ships from the NBE plant, or, even, after a project review occurs, when a formal hand-off takes place from the NBE project management group to the NBE quality assurance group. The PM group and the quality assurance group work side-by-side to ensure pre-commissioning inspections reflect the full and final-built scope and spec. And, during start-up, the PM group and the quality assurance group work on-site to confirm operational requirements are met; and performance specs, such as rate, accuracy, and uptime, are reliable and repeatable. Then, even after project turnover, the PM group and the quality assurance group gather project data and metrics to be used for project portfolio oversight and continuous improvement.