A Perspective on Advanced Work Packaging: A conversation with work packaging expert Dale Adcox
Recently, the AWP Institute team has had the chance to discuss AWP with Dale Adcox, a subject matter expert in WorkFace Planning (WFP) and Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). Dale’s exposure to AWP began a decade ago during his time with Jacobs Engineering.
In this position, Dale realized the importance of having a comprehensive work packaging system with transparent work packages in order to enable meaningful progress. He further realized the importance of integrating multiple data sources in order for AWP implementation to succeed. Dale is now the Director of Construction Support at Fluor Corporation in Greenville, South Carolina and is working toward implementing and standardizing the AWP philosophy and practice within Fluor. In our discussion, he shared recommendations for successful AWP implementation.
Having seen AWP form and mature in the context of industrial petrochemical projects, Dale had several key points to impart on EPCs and Owners searching for information about AWP and its implementation.
Because of the vastness of the conversation, we’ve split this interview into two parts. In this part, we will cover insights regarding the organizational (people) aspect of the AWP implementation.
Start the conversation early.
AWP should be introduced to the project team early, before "scope-freeze". EPC and Owners companies should have initial conversations and clarify the use of AWP and what it entails for each party. This allows informed discussion about project delivery expectations during the lifecycle of the project. Early alignment among stakeholders is necessary to enable the front-end planning that is required for AWP success.
“[Build an] understanding that everyone is going to use AWP.”
Introduce the Big Picture to the team.
Often, team members are focused on specific information required for their department or function and may lack a comprehensive understanding for the holistic picture of the project. This can lead to small omissions of data by each project stakeholder that may snowball into time and resources lost and errors in management decision making.
"Make sure that team members see beyond their individual roles and understand the importance of including all data from the beginning."
Dale tells of a story to drive home the importance of front-end data alignment. During projects including a civil scope, different foundations are historically combined in the engineering model, but not always labelled. While the purpose of each foundation may not be relevant in engineering, it is highly pertinent for construction. By including the concrete foundation data in the engineering stage, Dale and his team were able to make informed decisions in rebar procurement. Instead of cutting the rebar on site, as done historically, Dale and his team were able to determine the exact lengths of rebar needed and have them delivered to the site pre-cut and ready to use. The process of ordering and assigning anchor bolts was similarly expedited. The inclusion of the foundation purpose in the engineering stage resulted in significant savings and increased efficiency in the construction stage. This is a prime example of the benefits to be gained from the consideration of the holistic picture of the project during each stage.
“The ultimate goal [is driving] improvement throughout the lifecycle.”
Know that AWP requires reallocation of resources, not expenditures.
The implementation of work packaging programs identifies gaps in project processes. Once identified, Owners and EPC companies can begin to rectify these gaps and elevate their processes and project delivery systems. While it is often mentioned that the implementation of work packaging programs requires resources, it is important to realize that this cost is offset by the savings and benefits gained from work packaging. In this way, work packing programs are a reallocation of resources, not an extra expenditure.
“If you take the time, you are better off than if you didn't do it all.”
Ensure the independence of your AWP Champion for true effectiveness.
An AWP Champion is able to communicate to all departments effectively and understand the full project process. It is important, however, that the AWP champion be independent of all project department. Since they are often one of very few to be given a comprehensive view of all facets of a project, AWP champions will also know all gaps and issues with the organization’s planning. If the AWP champion belongs to any one department, there is an implicit pressure to understate any gaps present within a particular department. The only way to avoid this and have truly objective AWP champions is to place them outside of any department’s scope and have them report directly to the Project Director (or higher).
“A true AWP implementation in an EPC project should be a business line by itself. It should not be solely reported to procurement, project controls, or engineering.”
True progress is made by learning from the most experienced of our industry. From Dale's valuable insight, we stand to learn much on AWP implementation, pitfalls, and day-to-day maneuvering. We thank him deeply for taking the time to impart his wisdom to the AWP Institute team and the workpackaging.org global community.