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8 ways to accelerate your pipeline project

August 17, 2020

By Peter Bortolin

Increasing the effectiveness of collaboration, communication, and decision-making processes

The development of Oil & Gas projects come with their own set of arduous challenges—particularly when it comes to pipelines. From the intricacies of construction methods to negative public perception stemming from environmental concerns—it takes an extensive planning process and robust engagement efforts to keep pipeline projects moving ahead on time. But what happens when a project needs to be expedited? How can you accelerate the schedule—or can you?

As an Oil & Gas project manager with over 35 years of experience working on pipeline projects, I can tell you the answer is usually: Yes. From increased collaboration to adopting innovative methods and technologies, there are several options available to teams to help accelerate their projects. Here are eight key options:

1. Hit the ground running: Plan well right from the start

The first thing you can do to move your pipeline project ahead of schedule is to plan well right from the start. Yes, this is true for any project. But when it comes to pipelines, engaging in a robust planning process is even more essential. The three key aspects of the initial planning process include:

  • Choosing the right design
  • Choosing the right team
  • Choosing the right approach

The first thing you can do to move your pipeline project ahead of schedule is to plan well right from the start.

2. Establish the rules of engagement

Once you have a sound plan in place, the next step is to establish your top priority for your project. Do you have strict budget constraints? Do you need to prioritize the scope of the project? Or is staying on schedule the most important item on your to-do list?

By establishing the rules of engagement, clients and project teams can more closely align right at the outset of the project. Not only does this get everyone on the same page but it allows other project players, such as the constructor, into the game early. This generally leads to better communication and more informed decision-making processes throughout the lifecycle of a project. Plus, teams can start ordering materials and parts from vendors as early as possible.

3. Involve construction teams from the get-go

What I’ve found in my years of work on pipeline projects is that the best form of project delivery involves constructor input early on in the process—such as the Construction Management & Inspection (CM&I) method. Under this model, our team can not only design the project but we can work with construction teams throughout the project lifecycle. This helps to ensure the design is fully constructible and that any issues are ironed out early and swiftly. 

“What I’ve found in my years of work on pipeline projects is that the best form of project delivery involves constructor input early on in the process,” says author Peter Bortolin.

4. Increase hours and resources

One of the simplest things you can do to accelerate your project schedule is increase the resources at your disposal. Adding more workers to the process, increasing the working hours, or adding additional resources are all ways to help you achieve milestones faster—if the budget permits. Having the constructor involved early can aid in this process as project teams can more accurately tailor their schedule ahead of time.

5. Fast-track critical activities to 80%

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts. This principle suggests that a project task can be completed to the 80% level with only 20% effort or time. The remainder of the effort goes to the fine-tuning of task deliverables. Why not use that time to move on to the next task? Discuss with your client if they can tolerate some rework in individual task deliverables to facilitate a faster overall project completion.

From increased collaboration to adopting innovative methods and technologies, there are several options available to teams to help accelerate their projects.

6. Forgo drawings for 3D models

One way to cut down on time—and money—is to forgo conventional drawings for 3D models. Not only does this cut down on paper but it helps cut down on time, particularly for client reviews. 3D models also improve the design and constructability by allowing the project team and the client to view the new installation, and its impact on existing assets, from all angles. This helps to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of collaboration, communication, and decision-making processes.

The new normal of working from home has brought some of the available collaborative tools to the forefront—particularly ones that can facilitate concurrent design reviews by the client and the engineering contractor. Tools like Bluebeam reduce the time needed for drawing review by more than half, allowing the team to iron out any problems swiftly before updating the drawings.

Rather than using your time to design every aspect of your project separately, find ways to replicate your design and utilize it wherever possible.

7. Design one, build many

Rather than using your time to design every aspect of your project separately, find ways to replicate your design and utilize it wherever possible. Many design elements are the same—you don’t need to reinvent the wheel at every turn. The philosophy of “design one, build many” allows project teams to work more efficiently, using the same templates for multiple aspects. This aids in saving time and money for your project.

8. Trust in innovation

When all else fails, innovate your way to victory. There are many tools and technologies at your disposal—and there are more coming out all the time. Some of the key innovations that we use to help save time and money are:

  • Digital twinning/visualization services: Merges laser scans, 3D models, and engineering data into a single visual environment
  • Bluebeam: Allows you to review drawings/models remotely
  • Construction management tools like mTOOLS: Improves real-time progress analysis and provides quantitative basis for interface management between owners and contractors
  • Virtual reality: Enhances design reviews and project development
  • Augmented reality: Provides 3D models to the field (mobi-live)

Smart decisions to accelerate your project

When it’s time to accelerate a pipeline project schedule, it’s critical that the client and design team work together. When we increase collaboration and adopt innovative methods and technologies, we can move pipeline projects ahead more quickly.

Find out more about how you can accelerate your pipeline project or learn more about our Oil & Gas CM&I team.

  • Peter Bortolin

    From cross-country transmission pipelines to refinery processes, Peter leads our oil and gas work in Ontario and Quebec. As a project manager, engineer, and business developer, Peter revitalizes aging assets and supports renewables such as biogas.

    Contact Peter
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