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Piping over budget

Piping over budget

Piping over budget

I am a structural engineer that provides support for piping (for an outside client). (We are talking about piping for a chemical manufacturer by the way.) Talking to them the other day, there was a lot of talk that the last job I did with them was over budget on their end. No fingers are pointing my way......but just so I understand what is going on: What are some typical reasons for a piping job to be over budget?

Some I've heard over the years:

1. The lead not walking it down and figuring out a good routing.
2. Structural forcing a re-route because of a lack of a means of support. [Didn't happen on that last job.]
3. Stress runs forcing too much re-design.
4. Just plain not estimating it right.

Are these typical reasons you've seen.....or something else?

RE: Piping over budget

Other reasons for Short Estimate:
5. The piping Labor hour estimate was not done by the Lead Piper or Piping Department.
6. The Piping (and other) Estimate was done by Project Management or the Sales staff.
7. There was no detailed Piping Discipline Scope Of Work (SOW).
8. There was no Review and Approval of the Piping SOW by Project and the Client.
9. The Project is being done by unrelated Engineering Disciplines (Not members in the same Company).
10. There is no Change Management Program to control changes by the Client and/or other Disciplines.

Sometimes its possible to do all the right things and still get bad results

RE: Piping over budget

11. Someone (Operations, Engineering) changes the scope to SS instead of CS.

Good luck,

To a ChE, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: Piping over budget

see item 10, a COR is recommended...

RE: Piping over budget

One of the biggest points on your list for me is poor estimating. I've had a few projects where the estimating done was by inexperienced individuals (in regards to piping) who really didn't understand the tasks involved for the piping group on a detailed design project and proper kickoff meetings that involved the Piping Lead were not conducted.

Due to this, numerous items weren't included in the project estimate such as time for:

1) Field trips for tie-in walkdowns (time was included for the process group, but not piping)
2) 30%/60%/90% model reviews (both in-house and with client)
3) CAD setup for tasks such as client piping spec creation for the software, data linking for isometrics, client symbols and standards, etc.
4) Time for creating a 3D model of the existing site (for brownfield projects) and additional trips needed for information when not utilizing 3D laser scans of the site.

I could go on, but I won't.

Communication has also been a big factor as well. Available information that is vital to the pipers that is poorly communicated or transferred can also have a big impact on the budgeted hours/schedule of a project and the possible rework that comes from it in my experience.

The other posts above are also very true as well.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

RE: Piping over budget

A related issue.
Most people (In Engineering and Construction) do not understand the difference between:
Estimate and Budget.

Estimate - a statement of the approximate charge (or hours) for work to be done, submitted by a person or business firm ready to undertake the work.

Budget - the total sum of money set aside (by the Client) or needed for a purpose: the construction budget.

The Estimate is the number of hours the worker determines is required to do all the work Client needs/wants done. The Budget is the Client's idea of what they are willing or able to spend for the work.
Before any work is started both parties must agree to what is to be done and agree to the items listed and the hours/Cost to do "That" work.
This type of List (SOW) must become a part of the Contract.

Sometimes its possible to do all the right things and still get bad results

RE: Piping over budget

2. Structural forcing a re-route because of a lack of a means of support.

If piping group is not identifying piping support locations they're doing it wrong.

Then again, these days management seems to think all you need is a 5-year piping veteran who knows how to operate the software and tickety-boo, away you go.

RE: Piping over budget

Pennpiper has decades of solid experience and gives good reasons.

Unfortunately, I would like to point out that there are clients out there that feel that they can somehow STILL CHANGE THE PID DRAWINGS AFTER THE PIPING MATERIALS HAVE BEEN ORDERED !!! THEY DEMAND THAT THE ENGINEERING CONTRACTOR ABSORB THE ADDITIONAL COSTS !!!


Sr. Process Engineer

RE: Piping over budget

Thanks for the feedback folks! cheers

RE: Piping over budget

"these days management seems to think all you need is a 5-year piping veteran who knows how to operate the software"

Or management thinks they can hire fresh college graduates with no experience and somehow they will be equivalent to 30 year experts on day 1. All while having no senior mentors to turn to in times of uncertainty. See that situation more than I should.

Seems like the piping discipline is becoming more and more neglected in today's times. Lack of involvement and training is becoming a serious issue. The "managers" of today need to be the ones that have a refresher course in where responsibilities lie, the correct scheduling and sequencing of a project, and continual training and development for it's team members.

But as the saying goes, arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon.. no matter how good you are, the bird is going to sh*t on the board and walk around like it won anyway.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

RE: Piping over budget

From one Contractor's viewpoint, Sales has proposed an impossible price to get the award.

RE: Piping over budget

What ever you do, don't give in and make the Estimate fit the "impossible Price".
You should get the proper information covering the Scope of the Project and then give Sales the Estimate to fit the Project. Make sure you, the Company Management and the proposed Client have copies of the correct Estimate.
If Sales changes the numbers to get the award then that is their problem.

Sometimes its possible to do all the right things and still get bad results

RE: Piping over budget



If piping group is not identifying piping support locations they're doing it wrong.

In the past, at some of the larger EPC outfits I've worked at, piping would assume they could support it without talking to structural......and that resulted in issues. One I remember was this building made entirely of reinforced concrete that we had decided internally we were never going to touch (for a variety of reasons). Well, piping thought they could just run pipe all over it and they got a rude awakening when they started asking us for supports.

RE: Piping over budget

"piping would assume they could support it without talking to structural"

Perhaps interdisciplinary coordination is a thing of the past now that we have all these expensive, sophistimacated software packages that make so many promises.

RE: Piping over budget

One that has always p....ed me off (and translates to money wasted) is the lack of co-ordination between the electrical contractor and the piping contractor.
Obviously this should be the responsibility of the main contractor to oversee but it rarely if ever happens.
Pipies work off isometrics - no idea what electrical contractors do but when they have laid their cable trays full of cables first and you have to run your pipes as per iso straight through the middle of them there are 2 x options.
Chop the lot out (cable tray & cables) with a 9" grinder and run the pipe or re-route the piping around the cable trays.
The second option is generally what happens in most cases but who wears that cost ?

RE: Piping over budget

Some friends run a fleet of (100 ft.) tour boats out of Seward, AK. The boats are nominally identical, from the same builder.
... but they are all different.
If the electrical crew got there first, the wiring is neat, but the hydraulics have extra bends.
... and conversely. ... and other trades are involved, not just two.

Mis-coordination happens in shipbuilding, too, and also costs a bunch.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Piping over budget

DekDee, I don't know the specifics of the projects you're referring to, but...

Piping should be allowing locations on the rack for electrical downcomers and all electrical cabling and trays should be on the top level in the first place.

I'm not familiar with projects where (major) piping is rerouted to suit the sparkies.

RE: Piping over budget

Were you involved with the costing or the budget? Did the project just cost more than the client had expected. Can the client identify where the cost overrun came from?


RE: Piping over budget

In my experience cost over runs start with the design engineers proposal for design cost. In the desire to land the job the project manager or principal reduces the cost estimate of the engineer that did the work up. Second was lack of coordination between design disciplines. For example as soon as the structural engineers decide the desired steel elevations the super heated steam and other critical piping should have elevations established and all parties informed that these two elevations are reserved without exception. This piping is routed first and stress analyses done. The general contractor should know but should be advised that the critical piping has priority of space. Checking of the piping system is a must by someone that knows what they are doing. Approximate mechanical loads should be given to the structural engineer early and updated as design allows. Submittals need to be reviewed by the engineer and the famous disqualifier note stamped on the submittal be thrown away. It is ridiculous for the design engineer to not bare any responsibility for the equipment supplied. That is an excuse to blow off reviewing the submittals.
When construction begins any proposed changes to the piping system including equipment needs to be reviewed by the design engineer of record. Any proposed changes must be reviewed by members of the entire design team.
In my opinion interferences as a result of sloppy design should not exist.
As an example I designed a large piping system that after the interference between a 36" pipe and an 8x10 steel member was resolved I got a memo advising what the mod cost. It infuriated me because I knew exactly where the interference was. The structural bracing for the horizontal steel was w8x10's throughout flush with the top of the steel except the one member that my pipe hit. The engineer agreed to make that member flush with the bottom of the steel and the problem was gone. The installer missed that requirement and thus an interference. The field engineers with our company OK'D a $30,000 change when all they had to do was look at the drawing and tell the contractor to locate the steel per the drawings.
I could list several changes made that had I been consulted would not have been made and resulted in more problems that had to be solved.
A lot of things stated here before me are also possibilities and good info.

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