Off-site fabrication

During the Semiconductor projects it became clear how important scheduled construction was coupled with labor issues. In particular any improvement to head count reduction while maintaining peak production capabilities based on historical observations was extremely desirable. Stated another way, we knew there were production constraints we could do little to improve or even affect. However, we also observed it only took a few skilled pipe fabricators / installers to produce a significant amount of work if each piece of piping (and any related valve, hanger, etc.) fit into place with minimal effort.

Another observation was groupthink. The owners believed the designers and contractors could perform far more work at a greater level of accuracy with less effort while maintaining extreme constraints because on “paper” it was possible. Logic was etched into silicon and sold not used in constructing a factory. Thus it was beneficial to move production out of such an environment.

Thus I focused on a process to have as much of the piping created off-site as was reasonable. The program contained these elements:

  • Exacting tolerances contingent on the item (Example: some item require 0.5mm others 25mm of accuracy)
  • Accurate and up-to-date existing conditions of the environment ( reduce or eliminate construction obstacles )
  • Solid supply chain tracking linked to schedule and dashboard reporting systems
  • Robust Quality control of piping geometry ( Validation the part is produced accurately )

This program contains many elements such as behavior change, specific training, specific metrology equipment, proprietary software, off the shelf software, and as always appropriate application to individual tasks.

Each improvement goes through an adoption process. Idea, planed implementation, trial with measurements, refinement, field test, adjustments, limited deployment, refinement, final deployment.

Improvements are ceaseless.

A majority of these “lessons learned” apply to most construction projects. The construction industry as a whole is moving to off-site fabrication and erection/installation where possible (where it makes cost and schedule sense). This trend is driven by labor cost, and shortages.

My thoughts on why more off-site fabrication is not being done might compare to any complex task. Each step to create a successful round trip mission to the moon requires many steps and actions of varying precision along with problem solving attitudes.

Only a few teams can execute the mission.

Are you and your team ready? We can help you attain your goals.