A construction manager weighs in on engineering design

Lessons learned about design teams by those that have to make the design happen. Pass those lessons on.


First of all, let me say the design engineer is the heartbeat of a project. He or she spends many hours at the customer’s site in rack room panels, field panels, on top of columns, on furnaces, turbines, reactors, hot, cold, etc. Communication with the design team is one of the keys to a successful project, and I do appreciate a good set of drawings!

All projects have lessons in them, if we’re open to recognizing them and willing to learn. If I or my colleagues learned something from a project, then we need to pass this information on to keep the same mistakes from happening again. Lessons learned during engineering design are usually not well documented because of the demanding pace and accuracy needed to produce quality drawings. Let’s face it, a project will likely take longer to complete if lessons learned are documented along the way, but it will make a similar design process easier and more efficient in the future. That will benefit the next designer and others that follow. As a construction manager, I can tell you that this is valuable information going into future projects. Lessons learned are discussed in weekly meetings on large projects. When construction completes their scope of work and the project moves towards completion, the design engineer’s lessons learned are just as vital as the red line and as-built drawings.

Because it is almost impossible to remember the day to day issues that arise in design activities, a daily journal is a helpful way to keep track. Look for lessons learned every day, talk to senior design engineers, talk to customer reps on the site, ask direct questions, and be open to the advice of those that are installers or operators. Designers who take an interest in how well their designs work in the field will become  valuable assets and continue to improve quality and safety for the site and their co-workers.

This post was written by Robert Fayard. Robert is a construction manager at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading system integrator providing industrial automation, operational support and control systems engineering services in the manufacturing and process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, and business process optimization. The company provides a full range of automation and controls services – ranging from PID controller tuning and HMI programming to serving as a main automation contractor. Additionally MAVERICK offers industrial and technical staffing services, placing on-site automation, instrumentation and controls engineers.

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