Front End Loading

Successful Front End Loading is crucial to a successful project. If planning prior to and at the beginning of a project is inadequate in terms of delivery and affordability then the project is far less likely to succeed, and no amount of good engineering or management will be able to redeem its full value.

The concept of Front End Loading (FEL) relies on operators and clients understanding that value is added or lost at the project’s front end – the point where problems can be highlighted and addressed, and changes can be made comparatively easily and at relatively low cost.

Inevitably, engineering projects require access to a vast repertoire of professional skills such as structural, chemical, mechanical and process engineering. In addition, the project is likely to require technical, operational and safety management skills, besides environmental and cost and planning skills.

When it comes to Invitations To Tender (ITT), the more the potential client understands this, the more likelihood there will be for a successful client-supplier partnership. A requirement to provide unnecessary information that bears little or no relation to the ability of a potential supplier to complete the work is a waste of time for the supplier and does not help the client to make an appropriate decision.

However, the client does need to know the competencies, availability, and experience of the team they are considering – then they need to take the time to work out whether these satisfy their requirements – and this is the point the at which FEL is crucial. What looks good on paper may not prove to be the case practically which is why a personalised approach from the engineering consultancy under consideration is crucial.
What’s more, when the client understands this, their ability to balance the cost of the front end study against the overall cost of making the wrong choice of supplier – or conversely, the right choice – supports them to make an informed decision leading to a successful project

‘Generally speaking, projects with high levels of FEL have more predictable costs, shorter schedules and better production attainment’.

– The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) ‘Lessons Learned from UKCS Oil and Gas Projects, 2011-2016’

Really, FEL should be business-orientated rather than engineering-orientated in the first instance, and the initial point at which BIM is able to add value and maximise opportunity.