Heerema Marine Contractors also big in project planning with Primavera

Heerema Marine Contractors is known to pull off complicated tasks at full sea. The company is for example the owner of three enormous vessels, which install and uninstall gas and oil platforms for the oil industry. This is a business in which every unused hour means extensive costs, making a good project planning crucial.

Head of the planning department Peter Landsweers and senior project planner Peter Sabel proudly show the activities of their company. Heerema Marine Contractors, a private company, owns three enormous crane ships, comparable to floating construction sites. The Balder, with a capacity of 7,000 metric tons, the Hermod, with a capacity of 9,000 metric tons and the Thialf with a lifting capability of 14,200 metric tons. These giant ships work on open sea, worldwide, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The Balder, for example, can install pipelines at a depth of up to 3000 meters. Except for the periods the ships lie in the docks for maintenance, they are constantly at work. Each day they lie still – together with a crew consisting of 200 to 400 persons – brings about losses. The big oil companies are Heerema’s most important customers. Landsweers: “At the moment, for example, we work for ConocoPhilips, cleaning up one the world’s biggest oil fields, Ekofisk. We have ‘gotten hold’ of the first part of that project, cleaning up the smaller platforms. This phase takes place between 2005 and 2009. The second phase will cover six years. We have a permanent planner working on this project. If we also take on the second phase, we will probably need two fulltime planners.”

Planners know-how

Besides the extensive technical expertise within the company, specialized planning know-how is becoming increasingly more important. Landsweers: “It is of the up most importance that mobilizations and parallel projects link up with each other perfectly. Critical, fast and safe. A ship cannot lie still for one day.” In order to act decisively in both the tender and the execution phase, twelve planners are by now working at Heerema’s head office in Leiden. Heerema uses two project-planning systems. The first one – AMS RealTime Projects – is used for the ‘ship movements’ and the ‘fast’, simpler schedules. “It can occur that someone is working on a quotation and asks you on Friday at 4 pm to have a schedule ready by 5 pm”, Landsweers explains. Sabel: “We make an integrated planning for all phases of every project. Since 2002, we have been using Primavera for this. We used to work with MS Project, but that didn’t offer enough functionality. We therefore chose to start with Primavera. Initially we worked with Primavera Project Planner but in September 2003 we switched to Primavera Enterprise, for which we today have 8 licenses.” The implementation took the necessary energy. Landsweers: “That was mainly a consequence of a number of staff changes we have experienced. It just is a package you need to get acquainted with. We have now implemented it completely and entered all projects in it.”

Effects already measurable

The integrated project planning has recently been adjusted, as a part of an evaluation project in the hands of the firm McKinsey. “Within that program, an inventory of fields of improvement was made, after which the improvements were carried out. Integrated Project Planning was one of the fields with which revenues still could be raised and costs lowered. Landsweers: “We can already observe the effects. I was also personally motivated to optimize the use of Primavera. It was clear that Primavera Enterprise had to encompass engineering, procurement and overall installation, with as one of the spearheads the multi-project functionality for mapping out all needed resources. We want to be finished with the optimization by June this year.”

Supporting tool

Heerema’s planners work at a special planning department. For this type of work, it is a great advantage if the planners possess the necessary knowledge about the offshore industry, says Sabel. “It is impossible to make a good planning when you are not aware of what the work in the different phases comprises. A ship may only need a week for the execution of a job, the preparation time may just as well cover years.” In that period, Heerema’s over two hundred engineers and tens of other technicians prepare the work into detail. At the same time, planners are constantly available for tender planning. Heerema must be able to operate decisive as a provider in a tender procedure as well. Landsweers: “More and more customers want to see an integrated planning already in the offering phase. Also in that respect it is an advantage to work with Primavera: it really is more or less the standard within this industry.” The planners at Heerema want to establish a connection between Primavera and SAP in the near future. Landsweers: “Behind the screens, the applications run on an Oracle database. There we will have some customizing to do.” In addition, view functions will be created for other departments, such as procurement. “The most important goal is that Primavera becomes a real supporting tool for the project teams. In that way, they can see where in time they are in respect of their preparation. It must be possible for each project manager to draw a red line every last Sunday of the month, and see the status of each activity that the line crosses.”