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ADAK Island Project
Logistics Plans For Projects In Faraway Lands
by Bruce Taylor


Your vision of white sandy beaches, crystal clear warm seas and tequila sunrises by the pool is shattered when you discover that the Company has actually been awarded a three-year contract to shut down, demolish and leave environmentally pristine an installation on the Aleutian Islands, between mainland Alaska and Siberia! A project in Nowheresville, and you have been assigned as Project Manager. As the location is so remote you know that there is no local supplier and that every person and everything, including the beer, needs to be transported to and from the site. How can you handle such a Herculean task?


Problem

Your project takes place in a remote corner of the globe. It requires staging and planning for personnel and equipment not only by date of use, but by weight and transport time. Getting your resources there is only half the problem as you also have to get them back to the mainland for off-site time. This job requires scheduling of equipment transfer, human transport, utilities and much more. A project of this magnitude and level of remoteness must take into account the following constraints:

  • All of the assigned personnel, as well as their food and sundries, will be flown in and out by commercial or charter aircraft.
  • Personnel can only remain on site for a maximum of 60 days.
  • Tasks that exceed 60 calendar days require a new crew to be rotated in whenever that maximum time period is reached.
  • Heavy equipment must be moved to and from the site by barge.
  • Diesel fuel and MoGas must be provided for the heavy equipment, generators and on-site heating.
  • Voice phone and fax lines have to be provided for each subcontractor.

The next part of your planning process is to brief senior managers on the plan to satisfy this logistic nightmare. You know that all the requisite data is in the Microsoft Project® file, but you need a simple method of extracting it to enable you to forecast the logistic requirements and create a smooth, economic and efficient logistic plan. The areas you need to cover include transportation, power, fuel and communications.


The Bluewater Response

This problem could be solved by adding many additional tasks to the project schedule, but that would greatly increase the schedule's complexity and the required maintenance. A better solution is to use the power of VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) to create an interim project and then use Project Partner® to create the charts.


Requirement 1: Monitor Airline Transportation

You want to show the numbers of personnel arriving and departing, and the weight of the provisions required for the on-site personnel on a week-to-week basis. You determine that a histogram is the best style of chart to do this. You want to display information in three different ways:

  • A chart to show the movement of personnel for the entire duration of the project.
  • A 60-day look-ahead chart that should be generated each month during the project.
  • Additional charts that can be that can display daily or monthly totals.
Solution to Requirement 1: Air.mpp

Monitoring the airline transportation needs of the project meant establishing the arrivals, departures and shift changes called for in the project schedule. Bluewater used VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) to extrapolate the personnel requirements associated with the project's task schedule. Bluewater first created the VBA code necessary to filter the project to show only those tasks to which human resources were assigned, and then to sort the filtered tasks by their start date. Bluewater's code then looped through each task exposed by the filter and calculated the total number of people arriving on each day of the project. Filtering each task by the finish date allowed the VBA code to calculate the total number of people departing on each day of the project. Then, the VBA code cycled through, finding each task in excess of 60 calendar days to determine the total number of people rotating in and out each 60 days. Once each calculation was completed, a new project (i.e. AIR.mpp) was created and its tasks were represented by the airline transportation runs required to provide the necessary personnel for each phase of the project. Each day personnel would arrive, a milestone was created and the total number of people arriving on that day was placed in a custom number field. Then, a milestone was created for each departure date during the project, while the number of departing personnel was placed in another custom number field. In the end, Bluewater's code had created a personnel transport project that could be imported into Bluewater's Project Partner® to produce the necessary histograms and other charts. This provided URS with the reports necessary to schedule and charter all of the planes needed to put personnel where they needed them, when they needed them.


Requirement 2: Monitoring Barge Transportation

You appreciate that heavy equipment must be on-site when the operators arrive to use it, and that barge runs are required to get them there. The constraints include:

  • Barges run in four-week cycles, taking approximately two weeks travel to the site and two weeks to return to port.
  • The dimensions of the barge and each piece of heavy equipment are known.
Solution to Requirement 2: Barge.mpp

Again, the best solution was to create an interim project and then to use Project Partner® to create the charts. Bluewater's code for the barge schedules filtered the project to show only those activities where heavy equipment was assigned. Then, the code sorted these filtered tasks by the start date, read each filtered task, and calculated the total number of square feet required for each barge run. The VBA code then created a new project file, Barge.mpp, and created a milestone for each barge cycle within the project, using the "leaving port" date as the start date for the activity. The task name for each milestone was then changed to read as "Barge leaving on [DATE] with [number of square feet] of heavy equipment, [% percentage] capacity." These percentages were calculated as (area required / total area of barge). This project then became the data source for any barge scheduling reports by import into Project Partner®. These reports allowed URS to accurately plan and execute heavy equipment transportation from the mainland to the island on time and within budget.


Requirement 3: Monitoring Phone Lines

You know that each on-site subcontractor will require a different number of voice and/or fax telephone lines. Once you have received the subcontractors' requirements, you want to create a histogram chart to display the total number of phone lines required for each week.

Solution to Requirement 3: Phone.mpp

Once again, Bluewater chose to simplify the solution using VBA. Their code, this time, filtered project tasks to show only those to which a subcontractor was assigned. Then, a new project was created, Phone.mpp, and tasks were created for each subcontractor with the corresponding start and finish dates. The results of the calculation (TaskWeeks * TotalPhoneLines) were placed in the "Work" field of each new task. TaskWeeks represented the number of weeks in that specific task, and TotalPhoneLines represented the total number of phone lines (voice and data) required by that subcontractor. The data from this project was then imported into Project Partner® where reports on phone line needs could be evaluated and scheduled. This information allowed URS to use phone lines efficiently, minimizing the cost and lag time of installing new lines.


Requirement 4: Monitoring Electricity Needs

With such an influx of people and equipment into such a remote area, you need to ensure that the power available is sufficient to cope with demand. You therefore decide to create a histogram chart showing the estimated power requirements by week for the entire site. This includes the site's base load, the average power usage per day for each of the on-site personnel, and any special power requirements of the subcontractors. The special power requirements will be considered as a resource for each project task. Again, you want to show three different aspects of this requirement:

  • One chart should be created showing electricity needs over the entire duration of the project.
  • A 60 days look-ahead chart should be generated each month during the project.
  • Additional charts must be created to display daily and/or monthly totals.
Solution to Requirement 4: Power.mpp

Bluewater proposed once again to use VBA to analyze power needs. This code filtered the project to show only those activities to which human resources and "ELECTRICITY" were assigned, and sorted these activities by their start dates. Bluewater then created a new project, Power.mpp, populated with tasks representing daily power needs throughout the project's duration. The first activity created had the same start and finish dates as the construction project. Its "Work" field was set to the results of the calculation (ElapsedDays * BaseKWPerDay). In this formula, ElapsedDays represented the number of calendar days in the overall project, and BaseKWPerDay represented the average kilowatt-hours per day of the site's base load (given). Each task provided by the filter was given corresponding start and finish dates to those in the base project, while the "work" field was modified to represent the results of the calculation (ElapsedDays *PeopleOnTask * ManKWPerDay + SpecialKW). In this formula, ElapsedDays represented the number of calendar days in the task, PeopleOnTask was the number of human resources assigned to the task, ManKWPerDay was the average kilowatt hours per day used by each person (given) and SpecialKW represented the number of kilowatt hours assigned to the activity as a resource. The resulting project was then imported into Project Partner® for analysis and report printing. This solution allowed URS to accurately estimate their power costs throughout the project and to plan accordingly.


Requirement 5: Monitoring Fuel Requirements

As with power, you need to know the estimated fuel required by week for the entire site. This must include the site's base steam heating load and the fuel needed for the heavy equipment assigned to each task. As before, you want:

  • One chart to show the fuel requirement for the entire duration of the project.
  • A 60-day look-ahead chart that should be generated each month during the project.
  • Additional charts that can display daily and/or monthly totals.
Solution to Requirement 5: Fuel.mpp

Bluewater's solution was very similar to that chosen for Requirement 4, and once again we used Project VBA. In this case, our macro filtered the project to show only tasks to which heavy equipment was assigned and sorted the filtered tasks by start date. Once the appropriate activities were identified, we built a new project schedule, FUEL.mpp, and populated it with tasks associated with the filtered tasks from our original project. The first activity was given the same start and finish dates as the original project, and the "work" field contained the results of the calculation (ElapsedDays * BaseFuelPerDay). ElapsedDays represented the number of calendar days in the project, and BaseFuelPerDay was the average fuel in gallons required each day for the site's base steam heat load (given). The remainder of the activities in Fuel.mpp corresponded to the filtered activities of the original project. For each of these tasks, the macro created a task in FUEL.mpp with corresponding start and finish dates. The "Work" field of each task included the total fuel in gallons used in each task based on the calculation (TaskDurationInDays * FuelInGallons) for each piece of equipment used in that activity. This project was then imported into Project Partner® for reporting, and URS was again enabled to effectively plan for their fuel requirements.


Created by Bluewater Project Management Services, LLC.


Please feel free to contact us for additional information on any of these projects via any of the following means:

 Telephone425-422-6986
 Telephone (alt)206-790-3610
 Fax425-771-6747
 Emailjlanger@bluewaterpm.com

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Small Client Logo: URS Consulting
URS Corporation

Solution Overview

Customer Profile
URS Corporation provides the industry's finest planners, engineers, architects, scientists, and program and construction managers as a valued resource for federal, state, and local agencies as well as private clients in 30 countries.

Business Situation
The URS Corporation was awarded the contract to shut down, demolish, and leave environmentally pristine an installation on the Aleutian Islands, requiring the transport of equipment and personnel from the mainland to the site on a regular basis. URS called upon Bluewater to provide an automated tracking system for personnel, fuel, power and barge-shipped equipment.

Business Benefits

Solution Components
Microsoft Project®--Provided the scheduling engine and the foundation for automation provided with Project VBA.

Bluewater Project Partner®--Bluewater's project reporting application that provides histograms, charting and Earned Value analysis.


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