The significant financial benefits of proper front end loading on a Burner Management System project

by Paul Gruhn


aeSolutions agrees with the findings of the Construction Industry Institute (CII). The CII has done extensive research on improving project success. Through quantitative analysis of 62 projects, as noted in Analysis of Pre-Project Planning Effort and Success Variables for Capital Facility Projects, they found that the front end loading (FEL) “effort level directly affects the cost and schedule predictability of the project.” The CII described a staged approach to projects, where engineering is divided into two phases; front end loading and detailed design. The CII documented that front end loading of capital facilities “is an extremely important function in determining the ultimate outcome of a project.” They found that as the level of front end loading tasks increases the:

  1. project cost performance from authorization decreases by as much as 20%,

  2. variance between project schedule performance versus authorization decreases by as much as 39%,

  3. plant design capacity attained and facility utilization improved by as much as 15%,

  4. project scope changes after authorization tend to decrease, and

  5. likelihood that a project met or exceeded its financial goals increased.

The CII defines a front end loading package for a capital facility as “the process of developing sufficient strategic information for owners to address risk and decide to commit resources to maximize the chance for a successful project.” They concluded that the “design work hours to be completed prior to project authorization should be from 10% to 25% of the total design effort depending upon the complexity of the project.”

aeSolutions fully endorses the development of a front end loading package for all safety instrumented system projects. aeSolutions defines the following tasks as being part of a typical Safety Instrumented System Front End Loading (SIS FEL):

  1. Hazard identification

  2. Conduct HAZOP

  3. Risk assessment

  4. Perform LOPA

  5. Develop SIF list

  6. Develop SIS design basis support report

  7. Safety requirements specification (SRS)

  8. Develop lifecycle cost analysis

  9. Develop interlock / safety instrumented function list

  10. Develop sequence of operations

  11. Conceptual design specification

  12. Redline P&ID’s

  13. Develop system architecture diagram

  14. Develop E-stop philosophy

  15. Develop testing philosophy

  16. Develop UPS philosophy

  17. Develop bypassing philosophy

  18. Develop wiring philosophy

  19. Develop SIS logic solver specification – Bill of materials (BOM)

  20. Develop approved instrument vendor list / Procure plan for SIS

  21. Develop SIL verification report

  22. Develop control panel location sketch

  23. Develop control philosophy specification

  24. Summary safety report

  25. Construction estimate, total installed cost (+- 20%)

When total lifecycle costs were compared for two design options on a large Burner Management System (BMS) program, it was determined that significant savings can be achieved for a 1oo1 sensor architecture (versus 2oo3), regardless of which cost basis was used for a nuisance trip.


aeSolutions stands behind the concept of SIS FEL and believes the project contained within this case study is a good example of the benefits and overall success of a phased/gated approach to project execution.

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