Value Engineering - Why It Matters to Plant Managers
Though plant managers have many things to do and worry about, one of the biggest concerns any plant manager will have across any industry is how to keep costs down. When producing a product on that large of a scale, it’s easy for costs to add up quickly, and soon that becomes unsustainable. Fortunately, more and more plant managers are beginning to apply value engineering to their project design.
What is Value Engineering?
Value engineering, also known as value analysis, is a systematic approach to improve the value of a product or service while lowering the cost of production. By analyzing the most important functions of the product, system, or service, value engineering allows and encourages the use of cost effective materials and methods without compromising the overall functionality or value of the product.
As an example, designing modifications or expansion to existing infrastructure, value engineering can greatly reduce the costs associated with implementation. Having a trusted source to deliver value engineered models that meet the mission objectives, while not sacrificing safety or reliability of infrastructure, is key to the process.
Electrical infrastructure design impacts costs to implement, costs to operate, and costs to modify or maintain in the future. An electrical contractor that is experienced in design build and familiar with the latest industry technology can deliver solutions that are safe, reliable and cost effective. Whether it’s selecting energy efficient equipment, designing redundant power sources, or electrical safeguards, it’s important that you work with an experienced electrical expert.
Since value is calculated as a ratio of function to cost, plant managers will use value engineering theory to either cut down on cost or improve the function of the product. In most cases, it is easier for plant managers to find ways to cut down by eliminating or substituting different aspects of design or production that have no functional value to the client, whether that be parts, manufacturing, etc. Value engineering is defined by 7 phases:
Information. Gathering information and determining the mission objective of the project. This will help prioritize the functions of the product, which will determine where you can improve.
Function Analysis. Calculating the exact functions of the project and giving them an evaluation. The functions are then analyzed to determine if it is necessary to the project, or if it needs to be improved. In some cases, functions may need to be added. Costs are determined for every function.
Creative. After determining the essential functions of the product, the creative phase allows your team to brainstorm different ways to achieve the functions identified. During this time, you may think of new and innovative ways to perform the same things you were already doing, or even add to the existing functions and methods.
Evaluation. Evaluate the alternatives you came up with during the creative phase by listing both the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. If the disadvantages outweigh or outnumber the advantages, then the solution is dropped in favor of another one.
Development. Evaluating the new methods and finalizing those options will bring you to the development phase. Analyze each way and figure out how it can be implemented and the total cost, as well as sketches, cost estimates, and technical analysis. From there, the plant manager and other team members will develop a plan of how the new method can be implemented.
Presentation. Use your findings and present in detail the new method, the total cost, the implementation plan, and other materials to leadership and critical stakeholders who should be bought into the new method.
Implementation. After presenting and getting final approval from all the necessary parties, you’re ready to implement the new method. Make sure you adjust anything or make any additions that may have been suggested or added during the presentation phase.
Value engineering is no easy task. Even after much research and deliberation, many companies choose to partner with a firm who can design on budget up front, or has the creative ideas and project management skills to work with you through the above stages. Experience is key when you are looking to expand your production facility to add new manufacturing capabilities and need to find room in the budget, or if you are looking to improve existing operations through planned maintenance and upgrades.