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Setting the standard for efficient project execution

Raising the bar for execution excellence

Keeping the end in mind with Advanced Work Packaging

Transporting industrial plant components from A to B can be quite a challenge, especially when the equipment weighs over a thousand tons and is journeying half way around the world. As was the case with a quench tower that Linde recently delivered to Russia. Shipping this giant structure was an impressive showcase of Linde’s logistical expertise and of the benefits of Advanced Work Packaging in maximizing project execution efficiency.

  • Linde delivered another key component for the Amur Gas Chemical Complex. This impressive quench tower weighs almost 1,500 tons, is 80 meters tall and measures nearly 14 meters in diameter, making it the world’s largest quench tower engineered to date. Linde built a special barge to transport it.
  • Shipping the quench tower is just one step within a sophisticated project workflow. To efficiently manage megaprojects such as these, Linde relies on Advanced Work Packaging (AWP).
  • From planning through procurement to assembly, AWP maximizes efficiencies by “thinking with the end in mind”.

Sending gigantic steel structures on their travels is all in a day’s work for the experts at Linde, who can draw on decades of experience to plan everything down to the last detail. Nevertheless, each project, shipment, cargo and itinerary poses its own unique challenges and complexities. Hardly anyone would be better placed to know this than Dr Harald Schubert, Senior Project Director at Linde Engineering, who is working with his global team to manage a megaproject: the Amur Gas Chemical Complex (GCC). This is set to house the world’s largest steam cracker for ethane and LPG feedstocks.

Loading of quench tower in Masan Port, South Korea

In May 2021, Linde’s specialists successfully achieved a major milestone on the execution roadmap: “We loaded up a key plant component – the quench tower – in Korea to send it on its journey to the construction site in eastern Siberia. This column plays a vital role in cooling and purifying the cracked gas,” Schubert explains. Weighing in at nearly 1,500 tons, and with a height and diameter of 80 meters and almost 14 respectively, the quench tower is the largest of its kind in the world to date. In comparison, the Statue of Liberty in New York measures around 93 meters from the bottom of its pedestal to the tip of the torch. However, at slightly under 205 tons, the statue weighs just one seventh of this huge plant tower.

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Daunting travel route

Yet the sheer scale of the quench tower was not the only hurdle to be overcome. The shipping route, including a 2,200 kilometer stretch along Siberian rivers, was a test in itself. “The rivers on this route are frozen over from mid-October to early May, and melting ice then clogs the mouth of the Amur River until early June, blocking passage. So our window of opportunity was only about 130 days,” outlines Matthias Pohlmann, Logistics Manager for the Linde project. “What’s more, we would only have a guaranteed water depth of 1.1 meters for the last 212 kilometers.” The shipment would also need to pass under two bridges with a clearance of 11 to 16 meters, depending on the water level. To enable transport of the quench tower under these conditions, Linde built a special barge, which was launched in Shanghai in May. The column was then loaded onto the barge in Korea, to embark on its voyage to Russia. Towards the end of May, the convoy reached the Russian east coast and, in early June, the port of De Kastri for its final leg upstream towards Svobodny and the Amur GCC. On July 7, the plant component finally arrived at its destination.

Lifting of world’s largest quench tower
Gigantic dimensions: Weight: 1,500 tons. Height: 80 meters

Thinking with the end in mind

“Successfully shipping the quench tower was not a standalone achievement, but part of a broader, finely tuned concept – which we executed efficiently and on schedule for our customer,” underscores Schubert. Implementing construction projects as complex as the one in Amur requires detailed, meticulous planning. To achieve this, Linde has been using Advanced Work Packaging, or AWP for short, for the past few years. “This approach is now gaining more and more traction in the industry because it improves the efficiency and predictability of construction projects,” shares Dr Eric Leimer, Project Director and Head of the AWP Core Team at Linde. “Advanced Work Packaging enables every step in the project workflow – from engineering through procurement to assembly – to be carefully aligned and planned, always with an eye on the finishline. It all comes down to thinking with the end in mind.” The approach was developed in 2009 by the Construction Industry Institute in the USA and the Construction Owners Association of Alberta in Canada. Essentially, AWP sets the standard for execution excellence, starting with concept development and extending through engineering and procurement all the way to construction and assembly. AWP thus ensures that everything needed for a work package is available at the right time and in the right place – from a massive prefabricated plant module right down to the last nut and bolt. 

Smart planning is key to engineering success

To achieve this, Leimer and his team are onboarded right at the start of a new project, at the concept phase. This involves defining the path of construction and developing the concept schedule, which maps core interdependencies and milestones to ensure smooth collaboration between engineering, procurement, and assembly. The Linde experts also integrate delivery times for specific materials at this point, so the individual work packages can be efficiently processed, one after the other. “You can see why it’s so important to define and align work packages early on in AWP. This enables us to plan engineering documents at an early stage, place orders accordingly, closely coordinate the supply chain and organize site staff in good time. That then avoids idle time or downtime later on – cutting unnecessary costs,” explains Leimer. In the case of the quench tower specifically, continues Schubert, this meant: “Getting the plant component to the site at a very specific time. Late delivery would disrupt the entire construction schedule and jeopardize timely commencement of operations, but too early could be a problem too – say if the foundations were not yet in place or cranes not available to erect the tower. There’s no space for temporary storage, so that then has to be rented at high cost, or you have equipment blocking the construction site.” To avoid this kind of scenario, all work packages for engineering and procurement are delivered in the order work is carried out on the ground. This ultimately ensures that idle time, productivity losses and delays for construction crews caused by late deliveries are no longer an issue.

Masan Port, South Korea
Special barge to transport the giant

One plant – thousands of packages

Like building a model from a kit, Linde’s AWP experts keep the big picture in mind, breaking down the overall project into logical and manageable steps, or work packages – each of which then includes all the necessary components. The engineering work packages contain the construction drawings needed for on-site assembly – one construction and assembly task at a time. The work packages are organized according to specific time slots and crews, then processed one after the other, ideally ensuring the ideal construction sequence of activities. Advance planning pays off for highly modular projects, in particular, where construction phases must be tightly dovetailed. The effort is well worth it in the end, boosting on-site productivity by up to 25 percent. “Depending on the project and complexity, we might be looking at up to 4,000 individual work packages,” states Leimer. “Added to this, of course, are key overarching documents such as the piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) and 3D plant model, which can be accessed by all project stakeholders,” adds Schubert.

Both Linde experts are confident that the Advanced Work Packaging approach will continue to gain ground. “At the heart of AWP is execution efficiency – which is also the major benefit for our customers. But we gain from this ourselves too,” Leimer concludes. “AWP is the ideal way to overcome a silo mindset because the focus is on the common goal, which is clearly visible to everyone involved. Each individual can see how their own role fits into the bigger picture.” This transparency enhances cooperation among all project players – which ultimately motivates the entire team.

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