Infrastructure Reliability Part 10: Project Controls for Maintenance Programs

Nov 20, 2023 | Stories & News | 0 comments

By Chris Naegele, PE; Rick Knoll CFA, PE, Brindley Engineering

Welcome to Part 10, the final part in Brindley Engineering’s (BE) 10-part series on Infrastructure Reliability. In part 9, we discussed Cooling Towers. In Part 8 we explored the topic of fire proofing and fire safety. In Part 7 we explored Structural Reliability, In Part 6 we talked about Tank Reliability and ASTs. In Part 5 we explored Piping and CUIs. Part 4 we wrote about level instrumentation. In Part 3 we explored electrical reliability. In Part 2 you read about process utilities, and in Part 1 we wrote about the risk of neglective critical infrastructure and protecting what matters. In part 10, we will discuss project controls for maintenance programs.

Importance of Project Controls for Program Success

Project Controls in an engineering maintenance and infrastructure reliability program environment play a critical role in ensuring program success. While important for the control of cost and schedule (as is the case in both capital and M&R program environments), effective implementation of project controls also drives project workflow to best utilize calendar-based budgets and help justify future program investment.

Project Controls in Maintenance Environments

Depending on the size and level of sophistication of a process industry maintenance program, there can be a large variation in the application & complexity of project controls processes. Implementing processes from the origination of engineering documents, commercial assessment & contracting, execution strategy & scheduling, and execution assessment & control can help drive projects to successful completion. Program project controls (Figure 1 below) differ from a typical capital project (Figure 2 below) in that they are not a linear, single pass processes. A high volume of projects within a maintenance portfolio will be at various stages throughout the year, but will continue to impact each other based on budget, manpower availability, engineering availability, and program insights and directives.

Cooling Tower Rebuild – Timber to Fiber-Reinforced Plastic (FRP)
General engineering project flow

Commercial Assessment & Contracting

Systematized requisitioning practices in maintenance programs help provide the foundation for an impactful project controls process. This allows for the aggregation of contractor & vendor bids to understand and analyze potential project costs. In addition to implementing these procurement practices, Brindley Engineering implements Business Intelligence visualization tools to dynamically portray this information in real-time, making maintenance program personnel more informed, analytical decision- makers. This can be especially important in competitive bid environments, or to understand basic contractor estimating KPI metrics.

Execution Strategy & Scheduling

Scheduling in maintenance programs often involves the ongoing management of upcoming projects & current project execution. Typically, maintenance programs will be scheduled out 4-8 weeks, with varying levels of certainty on execution dates. BE provides scheduling services for ongoing support and implementation of resource-loaded/leveled schedules. Scheduling provides impactful information for program management, allowing maintenance program personnel to understand current resource allocation, as well as program impact based on project priorities.

Execution Assessment & Adjustment

Overall program controls help maintenance personnel understand program budget and health, while utilizing data from the other project service processes. From managing project changes and the overall control budget, to assessing contractor productivity and efficiency, to budget forecasting, Brindley Engineering helps maintenance personnel understand and evaluate their programs in real-time. Additionally, BE has implemented various tools to augment historically delayed reporting systems in owner-side financial tools (e.g., ERPs, gate badging systems, integrated plant scheduling systems, etc.) The overall project controls tools BE implements help client program stakeholders understand how their funds are being spent, how effectively they are being spent, and whether they warrant continued investment.


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