Published On: Wed, Mar 29th, 2017

How Modular Construction Can Benefit the Oil and Gas Industry

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The adoption of modular constructionin the oil and gas industry has been influenced by two major concerns: cost cutting and supply of skilled labor. With the increasing number of projects in remote locations, stick-built projects are made difficult by the need to transport materials and manpower to the site. With some areas experiencing increasing wage inflation or expecting a decrease in the number of skilled workers due to retirements, labor resources can be limited.

The cost of supporting the additional workers onsite for the duration of the project can be significant. There are also additional concerns with safety, as the additional workers may be working in a functioning facility or a congested work area. This may lead to other issues like disruptions in operations.In modular construction, however, much of these concerns are alleviated by its benefits.

Availability of Skilled Labor

Stick-built projects may require relocating skilled workers onsite and paying for their upkeep – on top of other costs. With modular construction, fabrication facilities can be built at locations with a supply of skilled labor. These locations have a more balanced labor supply and demand situation, and owners can take advantage of the resulting lowered expense. Relocation and upkeep costs will not be a factor until finished modules are assembled onsite.

Efficient Construction

Weather conditions can disrupt construction efforts in stick-built projects. However, fabrication facilities are often indoors, minimizing the impact of weather on construction time. Fabrication facilities are optimized for building modules, allowing for greater control over construction activities and, thus, shorten module construction time. The optimized environment also allows for better quality since some activities, like welding, can be affected by environmental factors.

Multiple modules can be constructed simultaneously; unlike in stick-built construction where another part can only begin construction after related parts have been completed.Quality inspection and testing can be completed quickly and accurately since testing equipment are available at the facility.Ultimately, early detection and resolution of defects and issues can cut costs.

Modular construction also decreases the impact of construction costs when upgrading projects. Equipment installation is much faster than building the equipment on site. Total construction time in modular construction is faster than in stick-built construction, allowing for earlier operation.

Increased Safety

With quality inspections occurring in the fabrication facility, defects can be easily detected becauseof the controlled environment. Any defects can be identified before they become a safety hazard.

With most of the construction work done at the facility, the number of workers for onsite construction and assembly is lessened. This minimizes the number of construction workers exposed to the risks of a working plant.

Mobility

Inherent to modular construction, mobility allows for the transport of the modules to the final construction site. Once installed it also means that the modules can generally be disassembled and relocated if needed.

Modular Construction Success Depends on Project Execution Planning

Successful modular construction projects require a high level of project management practices, especially in project execution planning. Constructability reviews and better project controls should be used to maximize the use of modular construction. Strict control plan of activities in the fabrication facility is essential due to the simultaneous construction activities occurring on multiple modules. Without these, costs and schedule benefits of modular construction are lost.