Man looking at the bigger picture through binoculars

The Key To Helping Manufacturers Make Smarter Project Decisions

Susan Bishop Articles, News and Resources Leave a Comment

Man looking at the bigger picture through binoculars

Leaders of growth-focused manufacturing companies must look at the bigger picture when it comes to determining which projects to undertake in order to expand the business. This is crucial because the success of the growth plan relies on making the right project choices, at the right time and for the right reasons.

The same is true once a project is green-lighted. Yet it’s very easy for those tasked with executing a project to lose sight of this fact as their focus becomes all about completing the project on time and on budget.

It’s even more true if you’ve brought in outside engineers. After all, their revenue depends on finishing the project.

That’s not, however, how we look at it. How EFI Group works is grounded in a commitment we made decades ago to minimize the project owner’s risk – which means we approach our clients’ projects very differently.

At the start of each engagement, we work to understand the needs of our client beyond what is written on the project budget. Our backgrounds on the client side of the equation help us not only keep the whole picture in mind, but also fill in details that those who haven’t worked inside a manufacturing company wouldn’t be able to.

Even though our approach sometimes uncovers something unanticipated that results in a change of direction, what we’re interested in is making the right project decisions to support our client’s bigger picture.

Here’s an apt example:

While developing a project for a kiln shell section change, the owner gave us input for a specific length of shell including the kiln tire, trunnions and riding ring section. The kiln had been experiencing internal refractory failures and the expansion slide plate was showing signs of movement.  

We assembled the project budget, solicited proposals, performed the scheduling and the project was submitted for approval – along with a very small budgeted line item for an analysis which would either confirm the original scope, reduce it significantly or alter it entirely.

Our initial site work indicated that while some misalignment was present, the overall kiln shell appeared to be in good shape. The drive gear, however, was inducing enough vibration to visibly shake the walkways during each revolution. 

This was only observable from the kiln pier one section away from our project, and it was this vibration that drove us to investigate further.

No formal analysis of the kiln shell deflection had ever been performed with regards to shell deformation and root cause analysis. We knew that a proper analysis, including a 3D model of the operating kiln, would cost less than 1% of the overall project budget, but the result of it would have much more consequence. It would do one of three things:

  1. Confirm with 100% confidence the need for the project.
  2. Reduce the required work by at least 50%.
  3. Alter the project to focus on the root cause. 

Clearly, the analysis had the potential to significantly reduce our involvement with our client. And to us, that’s not a loss. It’s a win.

In our work with manufacturers our goal is to help them make smarter decisions, performing the right projects for the right reasons. We also simply love to solve problems.

So if the “whole picture” perspective we bring to a client results in our project’s scope being reduced, we know we’ve done our work effectively.

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