4 Things to Know about AWP’s
Path of Construction
November 23, 2021
Advanced work packaging (AWP) is designed to improve construction efficiency and is particularly well-suited for capital projects that often have complex deliverables and timelines. It breaks down a project’s entire scope of work into smaller increments (the work packages) and plots them along a beginning-to-end project timeline. These are outlined in a Path of Construction (PoC) document that details how to build the project using the right people, with the right tools, in the right place, at the right time.
There’s often a perceived complexity about AWP and PoC. When learning a new process there are always unfamiliar things to digest, but AWP also requires a positive paradigm shift in how projects are completed. To get the most out of AWP and its PoC, it helps to first understand some basic fundamentals about the Path of Construction.
Starting early for PoC is a must
For the Path of Construction to make a difference, it must be created early. If you have a nearly complete engineering-designed plan or building information modeling (BIM) design, or if construction has already begun, it’s too late. Why does this timing matter so much? Because the goal is to identify, control and potentially remove as many productivity-derailing constraints in advance as possible.
For example, it gives engineering a chance to nail down the design before shovels hit the dirt. By exploring design and material options ahead of time, and therefore limiting the number and degree of design changes further into the project, it helps reduce the potential for rework — which in itself introduces its own set of cost and scheduling risks.
Plus, procurement needs enough lead time to do its job more effectively. Being aware of what materials are required at each stage of the build ensures materials are purchased and available for site crews according to the schedule. Let’s say you want to order a specialty item that winds up having a two-year production backlog. If this won’t impact the relevant work package’s completion schedule, then it can be ordered for delivery when it’s needed. But if the backlog puts the completion date in jeopardy, then the three main teams — procurement, engineering and construction — may have to huddle to decide whether to alter the schedule to accommodate the material’s availability or choose a substitute without the severe backlog.
Ironing out these decisions and potential glitches up front paves the way for a smoother, constraint-free build process.
It’s a collaborative process
The PoC aligns everyone’s efforts and promotes a consensus approach to planning. By contrast, in the traditional standard work packaging approach, construction has often been left out of the planning stage, leaving managers within the discipline to figure out how to execute the work out in the field. Advanced work packaging flips that script without leaving anyone out. Granted, the AWP process and the PoC are construction-driven. But to make such an interactive plan work, engineering and procurement must be equally active participants.
Let’s look at how collaboration can eliminate some of the challenges found in non-AWP processes. When engineering understands what details construction teams need to most effectively do their jobs, it can incorporate those details into the design documents that the site crews will ultimately reference. That means fewer delay-causing RFIs, a potentially shorter punch list and less chance of rework.
Likewise, by having a clear idea of what construction needs from a procurement standpoint, costs can be reined in by outlining more accurate estimates of the labor, materials and equipment resources necessary for each work package. As with the above scenario with the three teams collaborating on a materials backlog, early troubleshooting can result in less wait time for materials and fewer schedule delays.
All stakeholders have a vested interest in the project’s success, so achieving a full understanding of AWP’s value and benefits, as well as the necessity of a solid PoC, is a must upfront.
Continual refinement is encouraged for PoC
Having defined the PoC, though, doesn’t mean it’s actually done and over with. Continual refinement is expected and encouraged throughout the project’s life cycle. Think of it as a define-and-refine process. The PoC is meant to be flexible as new information becomes available. This can be anything from unanticipated issues with design or materials, to early assumptions about the project that are later proven to be incorrect. Continuing the multi-team approach to planning and decision making allows that refinement of the PoC to develop from the shared expertise that each discipline brings. It’s all part of making processes better, and therefore becoming smarter about how to manage and execute projects.
Simplicity overcomes complexity
The best way to overcome complexity? Keep things as simple as possible. It makes sense that smaller scopes of work will take less planning. That’s what AWP is all about — breaking things down into more manageable chunks. So, allow the PoC’s sequenced work packages to dictate what to do and when — what construction needs from engineering, when procurement can order materials, when construction can begin. If things start to feel overwhelming, make sure you’re rooted in the fundamentals of sound project planning and execution to guide you through AWP and the PoC, rather than getting mired in a defined process.
Of course, this will only truly work if everyone can see past the initial complexity to understand the worth-it-in-the-end value that AWP brings. With that understanding comes support and therefore the collaboration that is so critical to ensuring a successful project outcome. A solid solution like InEight Plan can help your entire team implement an AWP-based approach to your project planning. Spend some time exploring InEight Plan’s capabilities by scheduling a demo.