Magazine article Marketing

Close Quarters

Magazine article Marketing

Close Quarters

Article excerpt

Building living quarters for oil rigs is a job subject to constant design changes, now made much more efficient by an integrated digital design solution

Consafe Engineering helps to make oil rig workers feel at home -- the firm supplies accommodation modules to more than 500 oil and gas projects worldwide. But there's a time constraint. Delivery lead-time for an accommodation module is typically 18 months. Design normally takes about one year and construction also takes about a year, which means that the design and construction must overlap by about six months in order to meet delivery lead-times.

"We are dealing with multimillion pound contracts," says Gordon Sales, Senior Project Manager at Consafe. "The customer can't fully define it at the outset, so as the detailed design evolves the customer wants modifications, so change is an unfortunate certainty in our business."

In the past, conventional manual drafting techniques were used, with each section of the design requiring a bill-of-materials, wiring schedule and other documents to be produced. This meant that it took about a week and a half for even the most minor design change to ripple through a minimum of five documents. Construction frequently had to work with incorrect and conflicting information, often resulting in work having to be torn out and rebuilt.

To overcome the problem, Consafe installed Computer Aided Design (CAD) software from Autodesk with an electrical design module from Rebis, running on a Microsoft platform. These two packages integrate with other internal systems to combine all of the information, drawings and schedules in a single database that is linked to the computer model of the accommodation unit. A single design change made on the model automatically updates all of the relevant documentation, so that it can immediately be sent by electronic mail to a printer at the construction site, 200 miles away from Consafe's design HQ in Aberdeen.

This cuts the time to implement a change to an hour or so, ensuring that the firm always has accurate information. "The time required to design the first module was reduced from 8,000 hours to just 4,500 hours, a 44% improvement," says Sales. "On an equivalent module we have now got this down to fewer that 2,500 hours. …

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