Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if there had been a pre-construction plan, it might not have taken 1000 years.
Designing manufacturing facilities for microelectronics, solar, biopharmaceuticals, data centers, and R&D is tricky business. It takes teams of specialists well versed in multi-discipline engineering including mechanical, electrical, chemical, and computing.
A solid pre-construction plan involving all these engineering disciplines is the key to designing and building turnkey facilities for advanced technology manufacturing. Overall project success —whether improving value, controlling costs, or meeting aggressive schedules — relies heavily on key decisions made during this phase.
Careful advanced planning gives the project team the opportunity to consider all the intricacies of the project, analyze alternative solutions, and develop a clear understanding of desired outcomes. In this way, construction efficiencies are realized, and performance objectives are met.
At Kinetics, we put our extensive experience in specialized markets to work for clients to plan and optimize complex projects to meet critical goals. Using a collaborative project planning approach, our skilled, LEEDS-accredited engineers, estimators, planners, and managers work together to dive into the details early, to provide objective project assessments, and to develop detailed implementation plans.
In addition to general construction considerations, extra attention must be given to high purity requirements, precision calibration of equipment, intricate chemical and gas materials delivery, thermal capacity, moisture management, and life cycle performance.
The pre-construction phase begins with project design using building informational modeling software to provide a multi-dimensional digital vision of your construction project. We also include comprehensive cost analyses that consider LEEDs requirements, EHS planning, equipment installation, process test and validation, and more.
Our Pre-construction services are tailored to meet the specific needs of the project. Our key focus points include:
- Conceptual design and cost estimates
- Detailed designs and cost estimates
- Material procurement
- Site logistics
- Project controls
- Constructability reviews
- Value engineering
- MEP coordination
A look at any elite team of professionals, from Navy Seals to five-star chefs, reveals several common characteristics. Significant among them is the ability to anticipate potential outcomes. This is put into action when there’s the discipline to turn “what if” and “could be” into repeatable processes.
Kinetics literally manages a world of new and upgraded plant fabrication projects. Behind those with the most positive outcomes – including reduced organizational and offering (O&O) costs – is inclusion of pre-construction services. This is true, even when Kinetics hands off the preliminary work to another general contractor.
At the center of these services are seven considerations that Kinetics views as essential, even mandatory. They can appear to be intuitive and automatic in many cases. But they are grounded in case studies that span a wide range of industries, including those with stringent material handling, quality, safety, and environmental concerns.
Consideration #1: Anticipate a significant change in key variables
Those starting a business or developing a product are wise to consider that their timetable and costs will wind up doubling, or even quadrupling, from concept to implementation. Construction is no different in the need to factor in contingencies. Here, however, a more granular evaluation is needed to isolate the three to five key variables attached to the specific project (versus a generalized “something will go wrong” outlook). Conceptual design and estimating are the time to start.
Consideration #2: Focus subcontractors on reality versus hubris
Time and time again, the self-deception of being above average – and performing at the high professional standards – gets in the way. Effective project managers create an environment where there’s less pretending and more serious planning. This occurs during detailed design planning and estimates. Of greatest significance are how these subs “show their work,” outlining the assumptions that went into their timetables and numbers. Reviews should center on the underlying assumptions rather than focusing on the conclusions they fueled.
Consideration #3: Put gritty ahead of pretty.
This is where scheduling, material procurement, and site logistics get the spotlight. As with Consideration #2, the focus should be on detailing the assumptions attached to the timetable. What’s more essential is the interrelationship of steps and stages along with the prerequisites attached to them. In other words, how variables affect each other is critical. The same applies to material procurement. Rarely is one P.O. isolated from the others, particularly when accounting for the suitability and performance of parts, and much less when they arrive or how they are staged on the site.
Consideration #4: Instill a culture of polite paranoia with common metrics
Project controls are not designed simply to identify mistakes, but to recognize and reward excellence. As such, there needs to be open dialogue about closely monitoring a clearly identified set of variables. A second set of factors can receive lesser but still regular attention as minor variables fall into the category of spot-checking or extended intervals. All the players involved need the same dashboard to avoid having managers who appear to be whimsical or vindictive. This spurs consistency over all phases of the project.
Consideration #5: Put professionals into the process
Constructability reviews have, in many cases, been relegated to either inexperienced or overly committed team members. In fact, this obstacle-identifying process is a natural extension of the previous four considerations, where assumptions are brought to the table. In this step, the probability of specific events occurring is brought forward to identify those with either the 1) greatest likelihood, or 2) greatest impact on safety, compliance, and completion. This is not the place for acolytes to take over, or senior team members to move on to “more important” activities.
Consideration #6: Maintain value over illusory cost savings
The interrelationships discussed in Consideration #3 are the key at this point. As such, reducing the cost or time attached to materials or methods is weighed against the overall impact. For example, if fast-fit parts reduce build time but increase maintenance requirements, they are not a net benefit. Likewise, superior weldments (that cost more) can adhere to tighter tolerances and perhaps create more margins for other components in a subsystem or process line. That’s how meaningful value engineering is implemented, and risk is reduced.
Consideration #7: Go long by thinking about mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP)
MEP coordination can, on the surface, appear to be about design and installation. But MEP is a long-haul play, particularly as some of the systems are among the hardest working in the entire process or plant. Intrinsic to wise pre-construction work is an understanding of ongoing monitoring, service, maintenance, and refurbishment attached to the design. Once again, anticipation is what distinguishes initial MEP operation from future-proofed design and construction.
Kinetics takes pre-construction services seriously, including the eight components highlighted above. More than anything, a conversation built on these seven considerations is a powerful way to explore a potential engagement. And, as past experience shows and current projects demonstrate, there’s a strong sense of anticipation about the potential for a positive project outcome.