Improving the worker health and productivity utilizing offsite modularization methods for heavy industrial projects

 In General

COVID-19 has had a major impact on all industries including the heavy industrial construction sector. Some suggest the global economy is expected to make a slow comeback in the next 12 months, however; during these times, industrial projects have been delayed or cancelled due to the uncertainty of the virus. Some of the uncertainty owners are facing are as follows:

  • The continuing unknown impact of the virus and if there will be any future shutdowns
  • Aligning expectations of restarting projects and work force concerns about returning to work
  • Providing a safer environment for the work force while still trying to provide value for projects
  • Shifting landscapes on the temporary and permanent changes required in the industry

With the uncertainty, owners are trying to understand the steps they will need to take in order ensure the health of the workplace while still constructing projects that are cost effective in order to be viable. Some of the adjustments that will be required at construction sites due to COVID will impact the projects site labour productivity. The following are some of those adjustments:

  • Enhanced hygiene measures
  • Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary
  • Physical distancing
  • Modifications to existing governance and behaviors
  • Enhanced health surveillance
  • Restrictions on the use of communal tools and areas
  • Regular sanitization of equipment
  • Periodic deep cleans of whole workplaces

Site construction typically employs a large number of workers at one time and the areas along the plant site can get congested. In addition, the areas that are being constructed at one time are further constricted. The equipment and piping placement is located in a predefined location and there is no option to move the work into a more spacious location. This will impact the number of workers that are able to be on a plant constructions site at once therefore decreasing the labour productivity while potentially delaying the schedule, increasing the overall cost, and possibly resulting a non-profitable venture.

 If the site construction location requires the workers to stay in a camp, it will further impact the numbers of workers allowed on the site due to the social distancing requirements at the camp facility. In addition to the number of workers, the planning of construction for work packages will be less agile due to the physical distancing requirements. These conditions can reduce the productivity significantly.

Owners need to look at other methods to ensure the health of the workers and ensure the project is viable in order to proceed. Effective application of Industrial modularization provides a proven solution that moves site labour offsite into a controlled environment.

Utilizing industrial modularization to move site labour into a controlled environment

Industrial Modularization has been proven on a global basis to reduce capital costs up to 25% and provide cost and schedule certainty. Other benefits include reduced key material quantities, improved safety and quality and reduced labour risk. The objective of industrial modularization is to move site labour offsite to a controlled environment. This is achieved by locating the piping, electrical, instrumentation and controls on to modules (blocks) that are contained within an approved transportation size.

Manufacturing facilities have fewer key personnel interactions than do field services (i.e. construction). Module fabrication and assembly yards apply manufacturing assembly methods and have more space in the yard and between the fabrication and assembly areas. They will have to implement similar controls to a constructions site, however due to there processes and ability to work in smaller work fronts they can have the same or slightly less productivity than if they were in normal operation.

The following are some improvements that can benefit work health and improve labour productivity for a project when compared to a site construction:

  • Ability to have smaller work fronts that offer a potential to have cohort teams which lessens the impact of community spread
  • Work fronts at a module yard are more spread out offering the ability to enhance social distancing
  • Control movement flows at the module yard to reduce the number of interactions
  • The ability to incorporate improved air filtration and ventilation in closed areas
  • Controlled entry to the different fabrication and assembly facilities
  • Use of local resources that can easily be arranged for staggered work shifts
  • Implement separate barriers to protect workers at each station
  • Ability to perform a deep clean of work areas on a shift basis
  • Ensure workers are responsible for their own tools, material, and clean-up by having dedicated separate areas for the workers
  • The ability to implement digital solutions for meeting, supervision, and quality / safety surveillance

Incorporating modularization on your project will improve both the worker health performance and labour productivity and will provide an opportunity for your project to be viable and more importantly, proceed.

If you want to know if modularization is the right approach for your project or how to effectively implement modularization on your project, contact DyCat Solutions at info@dycatsolutions.com or visit our website at www.dycatsolutions.com.