Managing Your Engineering Document Handover Process
Running a manufacturing facility today is highly engineered.
Every aspect of operating a facility is critical to overall production as well as staff safety. When making facility changes, companies often hire and rely on Engineering Procurement Construction [EPC] contractors to ensure that all engineering documentation for the project is provided and correct. But hidden challenges in the engineering document handover process can open facilities up to the risk of catastrophic failure, even if just one file is missing. In addition, hidden costs can critically hurt an organization’s bottom line. These can include the cost to assimilate handover documentation into the as-built environment or having to account for incomplete documentation for assets.
A central repository will always be necessary for managing long-term version control of your engineering documentation. However, you need to make sure you have the necessary documentation at the close of a project and before operation to ensure that your maintenance and operations teams have the documentation they need going forward.
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Common challenges in the engineering document handover process.
Hidden costs when owner-operators need to assimilate inadequate handover documentation by an EPC or contractor can really add up at the end of a project.
According to Fia-Tech, on average, EPCs typically spend under 0.3% of the project cost on engineering document handover. Owner-operators, however, can expect to spend anywhere between 2% to 4% of the project cost to verify, correct and assimilate the information.
On a $400M project, the EPC will spend roughly $1M on the handover. Meanwhile, the owner-operator could end up spending between $8M and $16M on unforeseen data entry and validation work.
The project cycle for a facility can be very complex and typically includes multiple high level steps. All projects, either for implementing changes, additions or building new facilities, should begin with understanding your comprehensive, long-term needs.
An EPC is hired to create the conceptual design and materials associated with completing a design that meets those needs. The formal handover process of those materials from the EPC to the owner-operator happens after project construction and before operation.
However, the larger and more complex the project is, the more project documents will be generated. EPCs often generate hundreds or thousands of engineering documents that the owner-operators need to then go through and verify, and then import that information into their systems to ensure they have everything they need for operation. The complexity of this data flow can cause inaccessible, inconsistent, incomplete or inadequate data, and ultimately impact the long-term success of a project.
Getting involved early and setting clear expectations for EPCs.
EPCs are hired to build and design plants and the structures within them, focusing on creating documentation for design, engineering and the construction process, but not necessarily documentation that the owner-operators will need to maintain and operate the facility.
Because of this, owner-operators need to be involved in the document generation process from the start of the project to ensure the EPCs generate useful documents that owner-operators can use after the project is complete to maintain their assets. Owner-operators can save significant time, money and effort in the long run by simply communicating early in the process what will be needed for general operations and by setting clear expectations of what the EPC will deliver.
Ensuring your operational documentation needs are known by the EPC as soon as the project starts and staying involved throughout the process will ensure you to get the critical information you need. Simply asking questions like, “how much do I need to budget for cleaning?”, “what will need cleaning?” and “what type of chemicals do we need to use?” can have a significant impact on what materials are ultimately delivered.
If this information is not delivered during the documentation handover process, you will need to go back and either re-hire the EPC to get the information or you will need to dig through project data, or worst re-create the data in order to get your answers.
For example, an owner-operator may need to know what type of heating fuel is required for an asset as well as how much and how often it is needed. Without the correct documentation, they will need to dig through previous design and construction materials such as specs and thermal analysis, or define and construct costly reports to get the answers. But that information could have easily been provided by an EPC if it was made clear that such information was necessary from the start.
How an engineering document management solution can help:
Accruent’s Meridian is an engineering document management system (EDMS) that acts as a single source of truth for all engineering documents and drawings. This purpose-built software solution provides configurable workflows to streamline collaboration between internal departments, with better version control than any enterprise content management system.
Meridian Portal is an integrated cloud-based piece of Accruent’s Meridian engineering document management software and provides a collaborative platform for owner-operators to review and markup document deliverables as they are submitted by the contractor. This allows for smaller handovers of documentation information to be shared throughout the process rather than in one massive exchange at the end of the project, where the bulk of issues arise.
By starting the handover process much earlier, companies can verify documentation sooner and facilitate continuous hand over during the project for better coverage of what will be necessary after the project is complete. And allowing for corrections during the project ensures that at the end of the project, comprehensive and useful information necessary to maintain the facility is available.
Managing smaller document handovers through Meridian Portal allows for easier handover management and faster verification, so you know that the EPC is providing you with complete facilities data you can use.