Overcoming the Challenges of Large Capital Programs/Projects

June 2015

Applying Lessons Learned from Extended Power Uprates

Effective capital program/project delivery is a critical competency for any electric utility to achieve high performance. However, project scope creep, schedule delays, and cost increases have become the rule rather than the exception. Over the past 10 years, the electric utility industry has seen large demands on its projects and construction management organizations to ensure compliance with a number of concerns. Large capital programs/projects come with a variety of complicated planning, implementation, and workforce/vendor management challenges. Using EPU projects as an example, we will provide you with ways to overcome these challenges for any large capital program/project. This article can help you successfully plan, deliver, and control/monitor your large capital program/project. 

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Link to: http://www.nrc.gov/

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Overcoming the Challenges of Large Capital Programs/Projects


  • Applying Lessons Learned from Extended Power Uprates
  • June 2015

Introduction


  • Effective capital program/project delivery is a critical competency for any electric utility to achieve high performance However, project scope creep, schedule delays, and cost increases have become the rule rather than the exception Over the past 10 years, the electric utility industry has seen large demands on its projects and construction management organizations to ensure compliance with a number of concerns, including: Plant retrofits and conversions Ash pond closures Fukushima modifications Security upgrade requirements Extended power uprates (EPUs) Large capital programs/projects come with a variety of complicated planning, implementation, and workforce/vendor management challenges Using EPU projects as an example, we will provide you with ways to overcome these challenges for any large capital program/project
  • Lessons learned from extended power uprates can be applied to any large capital program/project.

Overview of Power Uprates


  • Power uprates allow utilities to generate more electricity from their existing nuclear plants Since the 1970s, the NRC has approved 154 uprates, which have collectively added generating capacity equivalent to about seven new reactors Three types of uprates are available to a nuclear plant operator: measurement uncertainty recapture, stretch, and extended As shown in the table above, implementing EPUs presents the biggest project challenges, given the need to significantly modify major pieces of plant equipment
  • Source: www.nrc.gov, Backgrounder on Power Uprates for Nuclear Plants

EPU Project Challenges


  • EPU projects pose significant scope, implementation, and workforce management challenges Scope Scope is fluid as the EPU project is implemented Outages are typically much bigger in scope than a refueling outage, requiring the significant change-outs or upgrades of major equipment Changes to the plant configuration (structures, equipment, and systems) must be precisely documented Implementation In many cases, the work is done while other units are still in operation A high degree of project control rigor is required to accurately track cost and schedule against evolving scope Physical security, ALARA limits, lock-out/tag-out requirements, etc., make the work environment very complex Workforce management A large number of skilled teams (craft workers and supervisors) that may have never worked together are involved Some trades and/or skills are likely to be in short supply Many workers are new to a nuclear plant work environment and lack knowledge of nuclear safety and quality standards
  • Sources: IAEA Nuclear Energy Series No. NP-T-3.9, Power Uprate in Nuclear Power Plants: Guidelines and Experience, 2011 Von Lazar, Laszlo, Lessons Learned from Successful Nuclear Uprate Projects, Nuclear Power International Magazine, Volume 6, No. 4, July/August 2013

Lessons Learned from Recent EPU Efforts


  • Planning for contingences is critical. In some cases: Actual costs more than doubled over initially planned costs Outage durations were as much as 25% longer than planned Additional outages were required to complete the work Costs and schedules should include contingencies for productivity issues, replacing vs. repairing components, and licensing delays Preliminary cost estimates, based on conceptual scope, may not capture all of the work necessary to complete the project Some components that are initially expected to be repaired or recertified will require replacement, i.e., during configuration control verification, perform a detailed drawing walk-down of pumps, motors, valve controls, etc., to minimize scope surprises Major construction activities at an operating nuclear plant, many of which occur in remote and radiologic-controlled portions of the plant, can cause significant implementation difficulties and delays Space for installation can be extremely tight and may require removal or working around hundreds of interferences Productivity can be slowed due to the specialized and time-consuming procedures to ensure worker safety in radiologic-controlled and electrically sensitive areas of the plant Increasingly conservative regulatory requirements outside of a companys control can cause significant licensing delays Obtaining and retaining experienced workers is a challenge Active management of vendors is required to ensure productivity is maintained, issues are raised, and progress is on schedule

EPU Project Keys to Success


  • Encourage workforce collaboration and the ability of employees to voice concerns early and often to avoid costly errors, re-work, and safety hazards, i.e., maintain a focus on quality and safety Develop a self-critical culture focused on improvement and efficiency Recognize that the EPU team can not anticipate all the changes that will occur during the project Utilize project management technology where possible to improve efficiency and communication Hold regular project team meetings and invite senior leadership periodically to reinforce the priority of the project
  • Work Environment
  • Planning
  • Be honest and realistic about the complexity and uniqueness of the EPU project; investing early in planning and current state analysis can save a lot of rework Recognize that the planning process continues all the way to project completion and that the EPU team should always be looking to improve costs, schedule, and general efficiency Make benchmarking trips and incorporate lessons learned and insights, e.g., NEDO-33159, from recent EPU and stretch uprates projects into planning Bring in field engineers and/or craft supervisors early in the process for review and comment on actual configuration vs. drawings and equipment installation implications Hold combined design reviews with members from different disciplines; utilize the experience and expertise from each discipline to come up with a collectively better solution Develop integrated work packages to improve efficiency and overall performance
  • Sources: IAEA Nuclear Energy Series No. NP-T-3.9, Power Uprate in Nuclear Power Plants: Guidelines and Experience, 2011 Von Lazar, Laszlo, Lessons Learned from Successful Nuclear Uprate Projects, Nuclear Power International Magazine, Volume 6, No. 4, July/August 2013

EPU Project Keys to Success (Contd)


  • Vendor/ Contractor Alignment
  • Align vendors and contractors with project objectives and the uniqueness of the project Ensure vendors and contractors are aware of and held to the tenets of nuclear safety and align their nuclear safety culture with that of your company Work collaboratively with contractors and combine cost, schedule, and human performance monitoring tools and processes Ensure contracts have clear terms and conditions and are very specific in scope and timing Plan for vendor handoffs of work products and resolve disputes promptly to reduce idle vendor time
  • Implementation
  • Manage like a large-scale engineering, procurement, and construction project and not like a modifications project or refueling outage, e.g., funding is stage-gated Collect accurate data and monitor relevant performance metrics throughout the EPU project Conduct periodic independent project audits using industry experts with previous EPU experience Involve employees who will operate the plant during implementation Ensure operating staff are adequately trained on how the plant will operate after the power uprate, e.g., operations, maintenance, engineering, radiation protection personnel, etc. Update all affected documentation, e.g., operating and maintenance procedures, to reflect the new operating conditions Focus on procedure development, training, and simulator modeling to help verify actual plant response vs. expected plant response in power uprated conditions
  • Sources: IAEA Nuclear Energy Series No. NP-T-3.9, Power Uprate in Nuclear Power Plants: Guidelines and Experience, 2011 Von Lazar, Laszlo, Lessons Learned from Successful Nuclear Uprate Projects, Nuclear Power International Magazine, Volume 6, No. 4, July/August 2013

How ScottMadden Can Help


  • ScottMadden Capital Program/Project Assistance
  • Perform a top-to-bottom assessment of the capital program to position it for success from the start
  • Capital Program Assessment
  • Capital Program/Project Management
  • Capital Program/Project Tools and Performance Reporting
  • Assist in establishing and implementing the organization and governance to successfully deliver the program/project
  • Assist in establishing and implementing the tools and performance reporting to successfully control and monitor the program/project

Capital Program Assessment Overview


  • ScottMaddens Capital Program Assessment examines how the capital program is implementedfrom top to bottomwith a look at the PMO and a review of the performance reporting and tools in place.
  • Program Management Office
  • Step 1: Capital Program Analysis
  • Step 2: Process Evaluation
  • ScottMaddens approach analyzes these critical areas to provide a detailed assessment of your capital program with actionable recommendations.
  • Step 6: Recommendations and Action Plan
  • EPU Project
  • Step 4: Execution Assessment
  • Step 3: Organization Analysis
  • Step 5: Performance Reporting and Tools Evaluation

Capital Program/Project Management Overview


    • Focus On
    • Organization and governance Functional relationship management Partnership with other entities

Tools

  • Performance Dashboard Issue List (high impact and level) Monthly Progress Report Risk Analysis and Mitigation Plan (high impact and level)
  • Inter-project coordination Inter-project resource coordination Cross functionalities Best practice usage Documentation management
  • Project milestones Costs Times Business/technical goals
  • Projects List Project Procedures Project Dashboard Milestones Tracking Issue List (Aggregated) Risk Analysis and Mitigation Plan (Aggregated) Weekly and Monthly Progress Reports
  • Project Plan Project Documentation Management Milestones Tracking Risk Analysis and Mitigation Plan Change Request Management Issue List Management Project Baseline and Progress Report Weekly Progress Meeting Minutes Weekly Progress Report Monthly Progress Report

Capital Program/Project Management Tools and Performance Reporting Overview


  • Performance Dashboard
  • Cost Tracking
  • Project Scorecard
  • Risk Map
  • Progress Report
  • Schedule
  • Costs Detail

ScottMadden can help you successfully plan, deliver, and control/monitor your large capital program/project. Contact us to discuss any questions you may have.

ScottMadden’s Capital Program Assessment examines how the capital program is implemented with a look at the PMO and a review of the performance reporting and tools in place.

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Contributing Authors

Daniel Kohut Director
John Rendall Director

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