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Material Handling Consultants, Inc. is a World Class industrial engineering firm which specializes in the planning, design, integration, and implementation systems for the manufacturing, transportation, and distribution industries. 



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Project Management

Pyramid Project Model

Controlling The Outcome


This article below will offer advice on managing a project that includes capital equipment expenditures related to productivity improvement.


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To view segments of the article specifically related to the above model simply click on the segment you would like to review. 




Project Team Selection 

The success of a project is measured by "on time and on budget" performance. We will use our Pyramid Project Model to help define our structure necessary to provide the proper foundation from which to manage the project. You need to organize a Project Management Team that can provide the basis for your foundation. You should appoint a Project Manager with appropriate experience.

Other team members should be selected to provide a broadened base of understanding, experience and required skills that are specific to the project. This core group should be small. Additional individuals may join the team from time to time to fulfill a specific requirement and withdraw when the assigned task has been completed. Together they will set up project milestones by which to measure on time performance.

While every project is different, each may be segmented into six basic phases. The model shown below is a Project Pyramid that we developed to illustrate the sequence of events and scope of each phase.

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   Phase #1: System Concept And Development

This is the Planning stage in the development of the project.

  1. Set project goals and expectations
  2. Gather information
  3. Develop concept layout
  4. Develop a preliminary project budget
  5. Prepare a preliminary project schedule
  6. Establish a preliminary cost justification

The team now has to gather and validate through-put rates and growth projections which they will use in the next phase. Once the team accepts the data it becomes the foundation for the Detail Design phase.

Do not expect have everyone’s buy-in at this stage. Their concerns will be addressed as a matter of course as you progress through the next stage of your project. You need to focus on developing a "flexible solution."

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  Phase #2: Integrated System Design

This is the "Detail Design" stage of the project during which refinements in the both the process and spatial issues are addressed and resolved.

Integrate various mechanical hardware, electrical controls, computer interface, and software   into a complete operating "System."

  1. Validate and re-validate rate information.
  2. Evaluate and re-evaluate major System components to verify the best use of resources, such as space, effectiveness, flexibility, and justification.
  3. Refine, analyze, and reconcile the cost justification.
  4. Refine and develop a detailed integrated project schedule.

If this is new construction, address joint occupancy and building completion schedule issues.

You need to have complete buy-in from the group by the end of this stage. You need to focus on closure of open issues and work diligently to manage the expectations of the various members of the team. You need to be practical and realistic in the refinement of the schedule. You need to "Design for Success."

If this is new construction this is the stage at which you need to integrate your mechanical and electrical requirements with the General Contractor. You need to manage details and be alerted to all changes that will occur during the construction process. You will "claim" space (walls, ceiling, floor, etc.) so that lights, plumbing, electrical, communications, and miscellaneous utilities do not prevent you from installing the various system components correctly.

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   Phase #3: Develop Performance Specifications

This is the preparation for the procurement stage of the project. You now must put into various purchase specifications the operational and performance you expect from each vendor.

  1. Prepare mechanical equipment specifications.
  2. Prepare electrical specifications and detailed Descriptions of Operation.
  3. Prepare computer interface specifications and operational parameters.
  4. Review operator and supervisory training requirements.
  5. Assist Purchasing in integration specifications and your terms and conditions.

In this step you turn your performance expectations into a performance and detailed design specification. You establish the level of quality you expect through the specifications. You can encourage vendors to offer additional cost saving ideas. But do not permit the specification to be overwritten in such a manner as to reduce your control over them and their subcontractors. You need to specify any testing procedures, reliability demonstrations, and requests for extended warranties that may be applicable.

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   Phase #4: Proposal Review and Analysis

In this Phase you analyze and evaluate the various proposals and options that are offered and negotiate contracts and schedules with various vendors. Your goal is to be meticulous and minimize any opportunity for a vendor to assess additional charges.

  1. Review proposal specifications for compliance and deviations.
  2. Assess any deviation in vendor specifications.
  3. Prepare proposal evaluation.
  4. Assist in negotiating terms, scheduling, pricing, warranties, and performance issues.
  5. Issue a final integrated system project schedule.

In this step you pull together the various vendors and integrate them into the project team. Performance expectations, quality expectations, and schedule expectations are transformed into contractual responsibilities. These contracts written around your performance and schedule expectations are an essential tool in managing the project.

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   Phase #5: Systems Integration

This is the actual implementation and integration of the various elements of the project.

  1. Reconfirm specification and installation performance compliance.
  2. Monitor and validate milestone progress for schedule compliance.
  3. Review and approve final test plans and supervise testing procedures for compliance and successful completion.
  4. Review and approve final operator and maintenance training plans and supervise training sessions for compliance and effectiveness.
  5. Provide integration assistance between vendors.
  6. Resolve "emerging issues" and provide assistance resolving conflicts.

This phase ends in commissioning the system, the most crucial and demanding phase of the project. It is desirable to have the project team members actively participating. They will acquire new problem solving, error recovery, and trouble-shooting techniques through hands on experience. They will become more confident and capable of managing the system. Most important, they take ownership of the system.

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   Phase #6: System Audit

Regrettably, some systems fail. Not often due to system design, but more often to the inability of people to manage the changes in the operation. Sometimes, initial training just isn’t enough. We recommend that you audit the performance of the system, the last phase in the pyramid.

In this phase you evaluate the performance of the equipment, software, and operating personnel to be sure that you are operating the various systems in a correct and efficient manner, and that the equipment and software is performing up to the contractual level of performance.

  1. Monitor and review the mechanical equipment performance and reliability.
  2. Monitor and review the electrical controls interface performance.
  3. Monitor and review the computer interface and performance.
  4. Monitor operator performance and efficiency.
  5. Review maintenance procedures and records.

You will set up procedures for monitoring and capturing performance information and frequency of problem occurrences. There may be some "tweaking" necessary, or replacement of troublesome components. You will also wish to evaluate procedures relating to operator performance. Some procedural changes might enhance operator or system throughput.

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Each and every project is different. The project management approach outlined here provides you with the basic tools to help you organize your project to meet your budget and schedule commitments and "Control the Outcome" of your projects.

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Copyright 1996-20055 Material Handling Consultants, Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 3, 2005