Project Management Professional Project Management for Lower TCOs

Author / Editor: Steve Jordan / Dominik Stephan

Some companies feel that they can project manage new processing facilities themselves, bringing in sub-contracted help only when it’s needed. They can, of course, but Thorsten Vammen, Director at GEA Liquid Processing in Skanderborg, Denmark, suggests another way. For, in the end, are the total cost of ownership that matter.

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Effective project management can save money and help bring products to market faster.
Effective project management can save money and help bring products to market faster.
(Picture: GEA)

So, you are in the personal care, biotech or food industry. You need a new plant to produce detergents, cosmetics, cultures or food ingredients. You know exactly what you want to achieve, so why not just get on with it? Well, perhaps you should take a step back. In today’s competitive environment it’s not sufficient to build a plant that simply provides the desired outcome - you need to do better. Modern processing plants need to be hygienic, perhaps aseptic, use the minimum of natural resources and power, and have low emissions. What’s more, they need to be ready on time. It’s not the investment cost that matters – it’s the total cost of ownership that’s key. That’s where the professionals come in.

Building A Plant The Smart Way

To maximise efficiency and minimise the effect on the environment the project management team for a plant requires experience, understanding of the industry and a fundamental appreciation of the equipment, its capabilities and how individual components work as a complete system.

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The plant needs to have all its component parts put together in a smart way to eliminate contamination, avoid dead ends and air pockets, make it easy to clean and to ensure that the plant works in harmony.

Similarly, the process itself needs to be optimised to save time, energy and avoid wasting resources. For example, if a biotech or chemical plant needs to be sterilised at 121° C for 20 minutes, there is no point in treating it for longer or at a higher temperature – it’s just a waste. But designing a system that will achieve the necessary sterilisation without the need for operators to ‘give it a bit longer to be sure’ requires experience.

Making Profit By Taking Care of The Environment

Building a plant that minimises the effect on the environment can save money, long term. The initial investment might be a little higher but the total cost of ownership will be lower, more than compensating for the additional up-front expenditure. Less use of power reduces fuel bills, avoids penalties for unacceptable emissions and saves resources. Efficient use of chemicals and the clever use of water – including closed circuit systems - minimises disposal costs. Good cleaning means less down time. Heat recovery systems save money and help the environment too so they make good commercial sense.

First Time – Every Time

But perhaps the greatest savings from professional project management come from getting the plant ready on time allowing you to achieve your launch objectives and making sure you get your product to market on time and, hopefully, before your competition. A few weeks lost production can be many times more expensive than a little investment at the start to make sure deadlines are met and the plant works, first time – every time.

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