From control system automation and modernization to manufacturing execution system (MES) deployments to cybersecurity upgrades, there are likely critical projects that need to be implemented at your facility. If your facility is part of a corporation, you may actually be facing a deadline to execute one of these company-wide improvement projects. But because of a lack of time, personnel, or expertise to get projects started, and to keep projects running seamlessly, we often see inefficient production processes continue to run and critical cybersecurity upgrades get overlooked.
While you could try to push through and execute a much needed or required upgrade with the resources you have in house, doing so without a qualified project manager in place can be a recipe for disaster. Without proper project management, it will likely be impossible for you to complete all project tasks efficiently while avoiding cost overruns and minimizing downtime. To avoid these issues without hiring additional staff who may be difficult to keep busy once a project is complete, you could instead bring in an experienced third-party project manager. Having the right project manager leading a project, especially a project that encompasses multiple disciplines and trades, can help reign in chaos and offer numerous benefits. In the rest of this post, we highlight four key benefits of bringing in an Applied Control Engineering (ACE) project manager to manage your next control or automation system project.
Benefit 1: Add a Knowledgeable Project Management Resource to Your Team Whenever You Need To
Many manufacturing facilities operate using lean management practices, meaning there are often very few fulltime non-operator resources, such as engineers, on staff. This can make it difficult to find a resource internally with both availability and experience to manage a project though. Rather than go through the time-consuming hiring process to bring on a full-time person to execute a project, you can contract your project management with ACE. This can be a more cost-effective approach since you would not need to keep a project manager on staff nor keep them busy when there are few or no active projects. And since an ACE project manager is not an employee with day-to-day operational responsibilities not related to the specific project, we can also help complete projects faster as we are 100 percent focused on your project tasks.
Benefit 2: Having a Dedicated Communication and Coordination Contact
When executing a project where multiple trades and subcontractors are involved, or when the same project needs to be executed at multiple sites, communication and coordination are key to the project’s success. Without a project manager facilitating communication, setting expectations, and developing project schedules involving all the disciplines, a project can quickly become chaotic and have negative operational impacts. ACE project managers are skilled at developing communication plans that deliver the right information to the right audiences at the right time.
Our project managers also have first-hand knowledge of the different disciplines involved in all types of plant projects, giving us unique insight and the ability to better anticipate project dependencies, proactively address project upsets, and mitigate overall risk. Our project managers also facilitate communication among all levels, including plant floor personnel, contractors, management, and corporate offices as necessary. Additionally, we have project management resources in several time zones, making us well-positioned to coordinate communications between different contractors and facilities located around the world.
Benefit 3: Our Control and Automation Expertise Becomes Your Expertise
While many project managers can manage a Gantt chart, they may not understand the nuances of your automation project. Not only will your ACE project manager be able to manage the project Gantt chart, they will have an automation project background and can knowledgably discuss and understand all the stages of your project. With this industry experience, our project managers can identify potential problems earlier and take mitigation steps to minimize cost and schedule impacts.
Additionally, because of the diverse workforce employed at ACE, we have many internal resources we can bring into a project when configuration and integration questions arise, helping clients avoid costly third-party consultations. We also regularly work with a variety of subcontractors such as electrical, mechanical, IT, cybersecurity, and panel fabrication shops, so we understand the interdependencies and relationships between these different trades. And, while each of these subcontractors generally only has knowledge on their piece of a process, we have knowledge of the entire process and how everything integrates together. We are well positioned to serve as a translator and intermediary between all the disciplines necessary to get your project done.
We recently brought all these skills to a project involving the implementation of corporate-wide cybersecurity improvements at several facilities. For this customer we started the project by reviewing RFQs for the different sites to make sure each one matched the project scope and reported our findings back to the corporate group. Then, we assisted with ensuring the project was executed as expected by reaching out to vendors onsite to be sure each subcontractor understood the requirements and schedule for the project. We also assisted with the final implementation by coordinating across all subcontractors to get the changes live with minimal disruption to operations.
Benefit 4: Seamlessly Wrap Up Projects with Thorough Validation and Documentation
Once the actual project implementation is complete, validation testing and documentation compilation, reviewing, and recording still needs to be done. Our philosophy is that a project is not finished until these steps are completed to our client’s satisfaction. We first execute extremely thorough documentation reviews, leaning on our project manager’s expertise in these fields. Then, we wrap up our projects by sending clients a full turnover package and ensuring a system is in place for the client to seamlessly continue site operations.
Let Us Be Your Project Advisor and Advocate
If you need to execute a critical facility project but do not have the right resources available, you should consider bringing ACE in as your project manager. Not only will we get the job done, but with ACE serving as your project manager, you can rest assured that all your key information, including cost impacts, milestones, and shutdown windows will be communicated to all stakeholders in a timely manner. We will seamlessly coordinate multiple disciplines and keep all external and internal stakeholders in the loop. And with our automation and control expertise, you can be confident that all the nuances important to your project’s success will be understood and clearly communicated from start to finish.
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