Global Approach Key to Successful Project Execution

The fundamental transformation of capital projects have changed over the past 20 years. Learn about the changes here.

“Today, the global capital investment environment is the highest it’s been in 30 years,” began Alan Boeckman, chairman and CEO of Fluor Corp., in his keynote address to the 2007 Emerson Global Users Exchange, which kicked off this morning in Grapevine, (Dallas) Texas. Boeckman spoke on the fundamental transformation of how capital projects get done over the past 20 years, and gave recommendations on what we, as an industry, must do to better leverage what engineering talent has survived the past two decades of downsizing as we begin to rebuild the ranks of design professionals.

“This approach has allowed us to reduce costs by 10% to 15% and cycle time by 20% to 30%,”  said Fluor CEO Alan Boeckman of his company’s use of global execution teams and web-based collaborative tools to streamline capital projects.
“Half of the capital projects that we’ll have in 25 years do not yet exist,” Boeckman continued. “Energy consumption is expected to grow 50% by 2030, with 80% of new capacity added in developing economies,” he said. Meanwhile, many older, experienced design engineers have left the profession and their likely successors, having seen the handwriting on the wall, “have altered their career intentions,” Boeckman added.

In response to these pressures, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies such as Fluor have had to reinvent themselves to leverage personnel resources, while simultaneously reducing project cycle time and costs. “In the early 1990s, we realized that the ability to share project information was a business imperative,” Boeckman said. This was in stark contrast to the sequential, all-under-one-roof methodology employed up to that time. “While today’s plants may look similar, the design processes are infinitely different.”

Today, a head office coordinates the work of execution centers around the globe that share web-based access to three-dimensional computer models. “This approach has allowed us to reduce costs by 10% to 15% and cycle time by 20% to 30%,” Boeckman said. The company has established knowledge-sharing forums on 43 different technical specialties to facilitate information transfer around the globe. Similarly, the company’s Projects OnLine system provides real-time collaborative access to design documents, even across partner boundaries.

To continue to drive costs and time out of the project execution cycle—as well as optimize use of scarce technical resources—Boeckman recommends that we as an industry invest in developing technical resources in geographical areas that are strong in numbers, but weak on experience. Project execution tools that further automate information transfer and integration between, for example, automation suppliers such as Emerson and EPC firms will be critical. “We need to continue to embrace new technologies and work processes, and look for teaming opportunities.”

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