A Different Perspective: A Diagram of the Job Plan for a Successful Project

Gary Bases

Gary Bases is the President of BRIL Inc., an independent consulting firm specializing in brick, refractory, insulation, and lagging. He is also the author of The Bril Book (a complete guide to brick, refractory, insulation, and lagging systems); The Bril Book II (a technical manual that includes bril application drawings for the power-generating industry); The Bril Book III—the Book of Bril; and The Bril Book IV—Boiler Construction. He can be reached at brilincbases@gmail.com.

March 1, 2014

A project?s success is often measured by whether
the completion and milestone dates were met, if it came in under budget, and if
the job was well planned. Due to construction and scheduling requirements, the
emphasis on project planning is becoming increasingly important. Generally,
labor will make up 65% or more of installation and/or removal costs. During any
major project, the labor will involve the mutual cooperation of many crafts,
including boilermakers or welders, mechanics, operators, electricians,
scaffolding workers, insulators, sheet-metal workers, and bricklayers (for
installing refractory). These trades will also interface with engineering,
procurement, project management, and project planning personnel. Any delay or
problem with the material procurement, labor interface, or work assignments may
impact the entire construction schedule. It is important to understand that a
successful project begins with careful job planning. A carefully prepared plan
increases the likelihood that all project goals will be met.

With the wide variety of labor
crafts, it is critical to define their responsibilities. Each has its own
unique job classifications and by-laws. The following is a short synopsis of
work that each craft may be responsible for. The list is not all-inclusive, but
rather gives a summary of general work responsibilities for different labor

Players in the Project

  • Boilermakers or welders—weld pressure parts
    (e.g., boiler water wall tubes, steam drums, weld casing, and plate)

  • Mechanics—maintain
    motors for fans and equipment

  • Operators—control the operation of the boiler and
    the systems that support it (e.g., feed-water heaters, turbines)

  • Electricians—install
    and repair electrical systems, including thermocouples and temperature probes

  • Scaffolding
    build and dismantle scaffolding

  • Insulators—install
    insulation and pipe jacketing

  • Sheet-metal
    install outer lagging

  • Bricklayers—install
    refractory and brick

The Job: Adding Insulation to Equipment

Consider the following scenario: A power plant
safety engineer is concerned about personnel protection and energy efficiency
at a newly installed fuel feeder spout area on the steam-generating unit. The
manufacturer of the fuel equipment did not require any thermal insulation;
therefore, no insulation was originally designed or installed. After the unit
was in operation, the boiler operators realized the lack of thermal insulation
created a hazard and took action to add insulation to ensure the safety of all

Taking Action

The operators
organized a team consisting of those responsible for operation, mechanics,
electric, welding, engineering, insulation, and lagging. They discussed the
problem and agreed that a thermal shield needed to be designed and installed.
This shield would allow heat to radiate off the spouts and protect personnel
without causing excessive heat loss.

The next step was implementing
this plan, which required engineering, design, and installation. Engineering
drawings of the proposed heat shield were drawn up, and labor projections and
durations were established.

Since the heat shield was designed for personnel protection, the type of
insulation used was less critical than the cost. The total cost of the project
(labor and material) had to be kept at or near the expected forecasted budget.
The design used a mineral wool board that could be impaled on pins. The outer
lagging material had to match the existing lagging that was used on the
steam-generating unit. A carbon steel framework of angle iron welded together
by the welders (boilermakers) would complete the design. Thermocouples were
later installed to allow for temperature readings by the mechanics and
electricians. For ease of accessibility to the fuel chute area, rollers were
added to the bottom of the heat shield. The area of work was limited due to
pipe restrictions, so an area was chosen on the floor below to build the
enclosure and the team made sure that once constructed, it could fit inside the

This case is a perfect example
of how cooperative action is the key to solving build issues. By having the
entire team (plant personnel, labor, manufacturers, and engineers) work
together, any problem—big or small—can be resolved quickly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, many problems are not so easily solved in such a cooperative
manor. In many cases, egos, personal agenda, cost-versus-profit concerns, and
lack of knowledge interfere with the ability to work together as a team.

Key Steps for Project Success

In addition to team cooperation, the following
planning steps are crucial to a successful project:

1. Understand the job scope.

Prior to starting a job or project, you must
prepare and understand each and every detail of application and work scope.
This means reviewing all documents, specifications, and drawings, as well as
the current site conditions. A pre-project site visit is always beneficial, but
first you must read and review all drawings and work scope documents. The more
drawings available, the better the job installation will be. Drawings provide
the necessary information for estimating man-hours, material procurement, and
establishing elevations for scaffolding. Good preparation always saves time and
money in later stages of the project.

Rule number 1: The more you know, the better things go.

2. Perform a job site walk

The next step is the review of the current site
conditions. A pre-outage site visit allows you to see how the site conditions
will affect man-loading and material-handling requirements (e.g., rigging,
cranes), expected productivity of work, scaffolding requirements, and safety
considerations. This normally will be done prior to the job outage. In most
cases, the steam-generating boiler will be in operation.

Rule number 2: Walk the work area and visualize the project.

3. Calculate layout and
material take-offs.

The next step is establishing the material
requirements. Using the drawings provided in step 1, calculate the quantities
needed to complete the project (tube sizes and lineal feet, refractory and
insulation, etc.). From these material take-offs, materials will be ordered and
man-hours will be established (see step 4). The layout and material take-offs
are also essential for good labor control, are helpful in planning
material-handling requirements, and assist in scheduling and productivity expectations.
The take-offs and layout will most likely be done from arrangement and detail
drawings, although field measurements may sometimes be required. These layouts
and take-offs will act as a control document and a source of information
verifying that all contract specifications and requirements have been met. They
will also be of great value as a historical document for future work.

Rule number 3: Layouts and take-offs are essential—not

4. Establish labor costs and
durations of work.

It is at this time that labor and material
estimates are created. Estimating man-hours and productivity of the work will
allow good field supervision and control. The initial expected productivity
will be based on experience, past studies, and established data base. These
estimated man-hours and productivity will be the basis for the job schedule and
the interface with other crafts. Every job or project should include the
durations of the scope and the interface required among the crafts.

Rule number 4: Man-hours set the schedule.

5. Establish or create a
project work schedule.

Once all the crafts and departments have submitted
their hours and work requirements, a work or project schedule must be created.
This can be done with existing computer software or can be as simple as
creating a visual management board like a dry erase board. Either way, this
schedule should contain enough information to allow everyone to see where they
are in the project on a daily basis.

Rule number 5: Schedules create daily tracking and interface
between crafts.

6. Establish ownership and

It is time to
take ownership of the work and productivity required to meet the schedule. This
will require another pre-job meeting and a walk-down of the entire work area
with the field supervision (i.e., working foreman and project management).
These are the people responsible for running the individual crews and will have
the most impact on your ability to reach the expected productivity. Their
familiarity with the local work force will help in getting the job done on
time. This walk-down will also help them understand the work scope, craft
responsibility breakdown, material handling and storage areas, and expected
productivity (e.g., square foot of coverage per day, number of tube welds per day)
to meet the schedule.

Rule number 6: Craft ownership creates cooperation.

7. Man-load each work area.

The next step is
to man-load specific work locations. This is key to a smooth-running job.
Properly man-loading a project will help ensure a continuous workflow (e.g.,
tube welding, refractory attachment, welding inner casing, installing
insulation and lagging). Every work area must be scrutinized and planned to
ensure a well-managed job. Nothing must be overlooked, including the amount of
space available for material storage, the accessibility to unreachable areas,
the amount of workspace available for pre-engineering, and where power and
water hookups are located.

Rule number 7: Scrutinize and plan even the smallest of

8. Establish trailer and work
tent locations.

In addition to man-loading requirements, the
locations of fabrication shops, work trailers, and storage tents are essential
considerations. Keep in mind that most plants do not have just 1
steam-generating boiler. Normal boiler operations must not be interrupted on
the other units during the project, so placement of your fabrication shops,
storage tents, or work trailers will be very important. Most crafts will need a
trailer and work tents or shops for pre-fabrication work (e.g., lagging
flashing of seams, corners, penetrations, and openings require special
pre-formed shapes and sizes; and water wall tubes must be cut to size, and the
tube ends prepared for welding).

Rule number 8: Fabrication shops and storage areas keep the
job on schedule.

9. Consider material handling
at elevations.

Weather-damaged materials or difficulties getting
the materials to elevation are detrimental when trying to meet a schedule.
Therefore, having materials protected and available at the specific work locations
will eliminate wasted time. Make sure that you consider all aspects from
material handling (e.g., forklifts and carts, elevator usage, and crane
requirements) to weather protection.

Rule number 9: Have enough material
at work elevation (or within 1 elevation) for the entire work shift.

While problems occur on every project, and additional work is always
being added to the work scope, good planning and cooperation will always make
for a successful conclusion. Job planning will help minimize the possibility of
problems and will only enhance your chances for a successful project.