Perspectives: Field Notes

Don’t Flub Front-End Loading

Ignoring the early phases of front-end loading can imperil project success

By Dirk Willard, Contributing Editor

An operating company asked an engineering firm to develop a thermal oxidizer/scrubber system with triple redundancy. The firm reported back that the system would cost about $30 million. “That’s way too expensive,” the company responded. Finally, after three attempts, the company thanked the firm for its time, paid for the design, and said it had $10 million in mind. Now, here’s a company sorely in need of better front-end loading (FEL). This project was probably dead on arrival, or should have been in FEL-1 or, perhaps, FEL-0. Let’s talk about FEL-0. (By the way, an executive at the company told me there’s no such thing as FEL-0.)

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