In Record Time: Building India's Mega Shipyard
L&T Shipbuilding of India planned a mega shipyard on the southeast coast of India. On the Bay of Bengal, the shipyard would build large cargo carriers and vessels for the Ministry of Defense. It would refit and re-engineer commercial and defense vessels. Working on site with L&T project teams, Realization deployed SMART Project Control to help manage the project. Amidst cyclones and labor shortages, nine-month delays on the critical path became only four. And the project finished in record time.
Two projects in one
In its totality, the L&T project was almost unimaginably complex. Over 1200 acres, L&T would build from the ground up, a high-functioning marine facility—including three-and-half miles of breakwaters, plus jetties—plus the needed outbuildings on land. Plans were for nineteen shops, power and roads, sewage, fresh water, and fire-fighting services. The centerpiece would be a 46 by 200-meter shiplift designed and built by L&T. It would be the largest in India.
All this in a region with limited infrastructure.
The investment was significant. Which meant L&T wanted the operation up and running as fast as possible. The sooner they could bid on new orders and get the repair business off the ground, the sooner they would see returns.
Based on experiences in their heavy engineering group, L&T would use critical chain scheduling, enabled and enhanced by Realization’s SMART Project Control System. By turning to Realization early on, L&T set the stage for not just a good outcome, but an astonishing 28-month timeline.
Cyclones, manpower shortages, and a ban on sand
The weather on the Sea of Bengal did not cooperate. Three cyclones swept through the area during construction. There was a ban on river sand, so L&T had to crush stone and make their own. The remote location meant dealing with a severe manpower shortage. A major setback; massive plates for the shiplift platform were delayed five-months. A vendor had gone into bankruptcy. The plates were marooned somewhere near Greece.
It could have been a rolling series of costly detours. But SMART Project Control helped the teams with critical, forward-looking alerts. The system helps by always looking ahead; by identifying tasks to be tackled in the moment to maximize project progress and help recover delays. At one point, teams recovered 70 days on a projected 100-day delay.
As in all projects, success would depend on several factors. Working on the right task at the right time. Consistently having all the right people, the right materials, everything necessary to a given task on hand before any work began. In project management circles, this is full kitting. The SMART Project Control system helps by maintaining focus on the right items to full kit at the right time. Staying on track also meant carefully managing the number of open tasks, WIP (work-in-progress). On the shiplift specifically, project teams were highly disciplined in following schedules and alerts issued by SMART ProjectControl. On shipyard construction, things were more challenging.
SMART Project Control
For SMART Project Delivery to deliver on its full potential, the various contractors also had to use the same schedules. None had any experience with it, but the Realization project team helped get them on board. The system required that all teams go through the schedule and update tasks. Everyone involved in the project used the system and cooperated. Monitoring the schedule through SMART Project Control along with weekly buffer recovery meetings helped direct the early stages of the project. When trouble arose, the Realization team would propose recovery plans.
“The implementation was done with the Realization team’s SMART Project Control–and many problems were overcome–and one major result was that a projected nine-month delay was only four months.” ~ Pranay Pathak
The L&T shipyard is now fully operational. A genuine success story. L&T offer “total solutions, from concept design to construction for new builds, as well as repair, refits and mid-life upgrades. The offerings span both defense and commercial vessels.”
In reflecting on the project, L&T acknowledge that some aspects went well (the shiplift) and other parts (the shipyard) proved more challenging, (mainly owing to compromising on full kit). Following schedules and alerts was important, they report. Full kit was essential. The contractors had to be aligned with teams on site, and particularly on the shiplift and they were. Resource allocation, and task preparation all had to be done properly. Weekly reviews were critical to help set priorities—working on the right tasks at the right time—and exploring how to recover delays.
One of the major items that came out of early meetings with Realization was risk mitigation. This was important because L&T was doing this for the first time. Almost no one in the world could or would take on a project of this scope. There were genuine concerns that technical obstacles could be very significant, and dealing with them could be very difficult. Managing risk was central.
Even when resources were inadequate, delays were contained by carefully managing ongoing work and solving the right problems. Without contractor alignment, plans would go awry in no time. Getting a true picture and making good decisions required updating tasks properly, which was enabled by the unique SMART data model.