VDC and Work Packages in
Project Controls

Though project controls encompass an assortment of actions and activities throughout the life cycle of a project, projects of today are not the same as yesterday. The familiar topics covered, such as cost management, virtual design construction, planning, scheduling, and risk, are now more complex with additional demands. These demands touch many aspects and require excellent visibility to ensure successful execution.

Today, I’m going explore how models play an integral part in work package development to enhance workface planning execution on these complex projects while simplifying and clearing up poor communications. Let’s dig in!


What is VDC and Workface Planning?

Workface planning is a construction-centered execution approach that ensures all inputs into a discrete work scope have been vetted and will be available in time to execute the work without any obstructions. To properly perform workface planning, the planning team needs to identify well-defined smaller scopes of work that can be adequately packaged and executed with the crew.

Other inputs into the workface planning process are visibility on engineering deliverables (drawings, materials, tools & equipment, safety process & procedures, relevant permits, quality requirements, and the ability to capture and track progress for all scopes.

In its simplest form, workface planning is executing chunks of work to construct. It is the means and methods of construction, and whether you call it workface planning or not, I believe it is safe to say that almost every project executes workface planning.

Where does workface planning fall down? Workface planning typically fails when a predecessor activity has not been completed, ultimately leaving the construction crews unable to execute their desired work scope. Which typically causes knock-on effects of shifting work crews, reduction in productivity, and increasing safety risks on executing against non-planned scopes.

One of the primary culprits is not having engineering and procurement deliverables available at the desired time. Engineering must produce construction-ready documents for the work crews and in advance to allow for the complete procurement cycles. Ensuring the people, drawings, and materials are available to work crews are foundational to a successful work package execution and tenets of effective planning.

To be most effective, the engineering schedule of deliverables and procurement of materials needs to be aligned with the construction schedule to develop the optimal installation sequence.

The construction site needs to be broken down into Construction Work Areas (CWAs) to identify the scope of work. CWA definition is typically done with some  general arrangement drawings or top views of all discipline models aggregated together.

To simplify the process is to utilize aggregated discipline models not only for CWAs but also for Construction Work Packages (CWPs) and Installation Work Packages (IWPs). You may be creating CWPs and IWPs today with 2D drawings, but I would suggest that utilizing a 3D model, which is where the drawings are created from, would provide the visual reporting needed to simplify the effort.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, model data generally needs to be cleaned up and normalized to support construction work package creation, which is still faster than typing in all needed information from drawings to create work packages.


Models enhancing work packaging

How long does creating a work package without using model data take?

CWA has been defined, and now the following steps need to be taken: Identify CWPs to split into smaller scopes of work by discipline and create activities of objects to be executed within IWPs. Sifting through multiple drawings, capturing data in an organized manner, and summing quantities to calculate workhours. This manual method can take hours and sometimes days to create IWPs.

work packages, workface planning, project controls

How long does it take to create a work package utilizing model data?

Models already contain rich data and can be utilized for creating work packages, which is more efficient than typing in all the data needed. Within the model, it is easy to quickly assign new metadata like CWAs and CWPs and additional needed data to multiple objects. The model can quickly turn on and off different disciplines to add IWP metadata and provide the sum of quantities.

As work is executed in the field, with data linked to the model, visually reporting construction status. Model visual reporting is clear communication with the ability to see any concerning areas of limited construction progress and more. Trying to envision this in a pie or bar chart just doesn’t provide the coherent information that the images below offer.

work packages, workface planning, project controls   work packages, workface planning, project controls

Changes to design during construction provide opportunities to miss information and get that new or changed work into a work package. Utilizing a model offers a clear picture of newly added or altered information to ensure all objects are included in an installation work package.


Extending the model into other project control areas

As the model is used for workface planning and creating work packages, it can be extended into other project controls areas, such as estimating, planning, scheduling, risk (model connected to advanced work packaging), field execution (model providing the visual of claiming and/or validating work executed), and document management (link your document to the model), and much more.

Ideally, this should be done in the same model-aggregated software instead of pushing your project models into separate-model aggregated software to execute these different aspects of project controls.

Ready to take a deeper dive? Schedule a one-on-one consultation to find out how InEight can help you succeed in your construction digitalization and VDC journey.

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