Perfect project administration

Illustration | Bosch Rexroth AG

Above: Systematic project management is the bottom line. That was true for the Pyramid of Cheops and is most certainly the case for today’s projects – such as building the new locks for the Panama Canal, refurbishing the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and building the Deriner Reservoir Dam in Turkey (clockwise from top left).

How systematic process management guarantees quality, profitability and punctuality.

 

The Pyramid of Cheops at Giza is considered to have been the first major event in the history of project management. It satisfies all the criteria that a project has to fulfill today. This structure embarked upon new territory, had to coordinate many different crafts and tradesmen. The logistical challenges in bringing in the stone were tremendous, funding was limited, and time pressure was enormous. After all, the pyramid had to be finished by the time of the pharaoh’s death – and that was something no one could predict.

Supplying solutions in line with the market

Today the primary object of project work is to offer the market a solution that exhibits the desired quality, can be delivered punctually and within the framework of a pre-defined budget, and meets customer expectations. Ideally, these goals can be reached using a project and quality management system that makes relevant expertise available as needed. This requires highly disciplined, trackable documentation of plans, processes and results, supported by suitable tools and utilities. Simulations, for instance, can help to shorten the time to market. Systematic completion of assignments must be continually optimized, to remain competitive in the international arena and to avoid inefficient procedures.

Project work is normally broken down into the following phases: In the acquisition phase the supplier receives initial information about an upcoming project. Customers are provided with references and potential solutions for their projects. Often drawing on the support of outside consultants, the customer draws up a request for bids and forwards it to potential suppliers. They, in turn, examine the documents and decide in the course of the subsequent quality evaluation (release) whether to submit a bid. Matters to be considered are whether sufficient capacities are available and whether the schedule offers adequate time for engineering, manufacture, assembly, and commissioning.

The bidding phase is one of the central phases in a project and covers commercial, financial and technical questions. The focus here is on preparing a technical concept and calculating the costs for the equipment to be delivered and the services rendered. The contract terms may be just as unique as the project itself. Agreements will have to be reached on the scope of delivery, payments and payment guarantees, schedules, penalties and, of course, the contract sum itself. The supplier and the customer undertake a pledge to adhere to all the conditions of the contract. The goal for both parties is to draft a fair contract.

Once the contract has been signed, the first step is to prepare the system engineering. The technical concept drafted in the offer will be further developed and cleared with the customer. The goal here is to identify the ideal technical concept within the defined project budget. The preliminary design review, examining the technical aspects of the concept, provides procurement agents with the basis for ordering materials requiring long lead times and delivery periods. The technical concept will be fine-tuned in the detailed engineering and design phase to the point that in the following step – production and procurement – all the components can be made or bought.

Overview of the project phases and the required types of management

An overview of the project phases and the required types of management.

 

Typical of project work is assembly with subsequent commissioning at the customer’s site. Testing the assembly groups forms the basis for transfer and subsequent commercial utilization by the plant operator. Each phase will be concluded with a quality evaluation (release, quality gates QG0 to QG4, FIN). The purpose here is to identify risks, to avoid risks, and to inject the results of the most recent phase into the continuous improvement process, in the form of “lessons learned”.

Project management covers the entire course of the project and includes the fields of knowledge listed in the diagram – from integration management to site safety management. Only if each individual phase is taken into account will it be possible to design the project to achieve the ideal outcome for the customer. This is also necessary to ensure that the features in the solution, agreed upon in the contract, will be achieved – within the prescribed schedule and within the proposed budget. This requires close coordination with the customer, with the system’s ultimate user, and with the public authorities during all the project’s phases.

Applied project expertise

Bosch Rexroth can draw upon many years of experience in executing major projects. Current examples are the drives for the sliding gates in the new Panama Canal locks, rehabilitation of stage technology at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, the drive and control solution for the central outlet gates and tilting gates at the Deriner Dam in Turkey, and handling for the special-purpose ship being built for the Allseas Group. Especially important success factors for these complex projects – in addition to the project and quality management capabilities described above – are familiarity with the industry and knowledge of its applications, along with technical competence in regard to drives and controls.

Familiarity with the industry and its applications makes it possible to immediately grasp the customer’s needs and to discuss on equal terms the advantages and disadvantages of specific drive and control concepts. This technical expertise ensures that in each case the technology will be used that best responds to the customer’s problem. In other words: reliable, economical and service-friendly.

With this knowledge at its fingertips, Bosch Rexroth has in recent decades been successful in executing complex projects. Commissioning work – all around the world and covering many months – and coordinating a multitude of suppliers from numerous countries are by no means a rarity. Bosch Rexroth acts here as the general contractor for drive and control technology and assumes responsibility for the system as a whole.

Engineering support: System simulation

The increasing complexity of projects makes it necessary to carry out – during the development process – feasibility studies to back up the selection of systems and components. Rexroth offers for this purpose simulations of drive systems, which are then evaluated in regard to productivity, dynamic drive response, and options for efficiency optimization.

The simulation replicates the physics of reality and creates a virtual image of the drive system, integrated into the customer’s envisioned machine. This makes possible a detailed and comprehensive simulation of the overall system (i.e. the process + the machine + drive + control + motion), allowing the interactions of the hydraulics, mechanics, electronics, and software to be assessed at an early date.

 
Illustration | Bosch Rexroth AG

Simulation model with evaluation (characteristic curves) for a compact electro-hydraulic axis in the Rexroth system simulator.

The road to the project: faster and better thanks to simulation

Applications engineers plan and develop a suitable drive concept for the customer’s particular situation. The simulation starts here and examines for feasibility both the concept that has been developed and the choice of components. It will also optimize the system, taking account of dynamic and energy aspects. The advantages are clear. Virtual commissioning, carried out well in advance, substitutes for building costly mechanical prototypes.

Extreme situations – which cannot be tested in reality for reasons of human and equipment safety – can easily be examined. It is also possible to detect potential problems before real-world implementation begins and to eliminate them with little effort. The simulation permits access to every conceivable measured value for the drive system and machine too, including those magnitudes which are otherwise difficult – or impossible – to record.

Simulations contribute to reducing the time and costs for development, shortening commissioning procedures, and avoiding time-consuming and expensive repetitions of the analysis and optimization phases using the physical prototype. They also make possible improved awareness of system responses, the options for optimizing dynamics and energy use, and the analysis of “what would happen if?” questions.