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Reference-books and Typical Fragment Library

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Corporate project management system usually includes the databases (reference-books) of the corporate standards and templates.

These templates usually include the library of typical fragments that are small projects describing creation of typical project elements.

In construction projects these elements may include building the wall, column, floor, 1km of the pipeline (separate for different soil categories), etc.

Using these fragments in real projects may require some volume and resource adjustments but the set of fragment activities and their dependencies are usually the same.

The same fragments may be used many times in the same project (in construction of high-rise buildings, pipelines, bridges, roads, etc.) and any new project may require to create new fragments and include them in the library for future use.

We find the usage of typical fragment library very helpful and many companies that use Spider Project create and use such libraries.

Other tools useful for creating reliable schedules are reference-books.

They may include resource dictionaries, unit costs for different types of activities, material requirements per volume unit of different types of activities, resource productivity on different types of assignments, resource crews required on different activity types, etc.

If such reference-books are created it is sufficient to enter activity and resource types and get all data required for schedule creation from the reference-books of the corporate norms. Changing norms in the reference-books can automatically change corresponding information in all project models based on these reference-books.

Reference-books are also widely used by Spider Project customers.

Creating corporate reference-books, WBS templates and fragment library is the first major step for creating corporate project management system.

Your thoughts?

Replies

Rafael Davila
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Thanks

Rafael,

the usual procedure is different.

When WBS is created you may press right mouse button on the line number and select Update phase by a project (if you want to replace WBS phase by your fragment) or Insert project as a new phase (when you want to insert fragment).

In the dialog that will appear select postfix or prefix for activity codes to avoid code conflicts)  and what shall be done with the volumes and durations of scalable activities (multiply by ...).

Activity volumes and durations will be adjusted and you will need to link activities of your fragment with activities of other phases.

New resources will be added, if resources of fragment already exist their parameters will not be changed.

Rafael Davila
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Posts: 4761

Vladimir,

Is the following procedure reliable, is there a better way? Is something missing?

  • Make sure there are no parameter codes conflicts among the schedules. Some parameter codes might be shared, some might not be shared.
  • Open schedule to be modified along with desired fragments in a portfolio, then I copy-paste desired fragments into desired WBS of target schedule.
  • Verify how resource availability was transferred.
  • Create necessary relationships between WBS phases.
  • Save project WBS as new project.

Usually new fragments logic is easy, it is at complex resource loading I find fragments very useful.  The following is a schedule fragment for concretework on medium rise concrete building, the logic is easy, without complex resource model you might get it wrong.  You must model resource usage as it is done at the jobsite not by pretending it to be simple, pray and hope for the best. 

2ea-Tower-Cranes-01jpg-Page1-Logic-Links2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page1-Resource-Loading2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page2-Resource-Loading

2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page3-Resource-Loading2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page4-Resource-Loading2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page5-Resource-Loading

2ea-Tower-Cranes-02jpg-Page6-Resource-Loading

Best Regards,

Rafael

Anoon, typical fragments are not steps but work packages. I agree with your view that steps are useless.

When the fragment library exists you will develop WBS (using templates that shall also exist) to the level of typical fragments. Then you may replace WBS items (phases, summary tasks) with the fragments from the library adjusting the volumes of work. Fragments already contain activities, resources, materials, costs, dependencies, etc. They are small subprojects describing typical work packages.

So your view is correct with the exception that typical fragment is not an activity but work package (small subproject) that is repeatedly used in your schedules with minor changes.

Anoon Iimos
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I have never used Spider, but I guess the equivalent of "fragments" in Spider is "steps" for P6. However, "steps" were just contained in a certain activity, and cannot be dynamic in relation to other tasks or activities, so I think it's useless when it comes to resource leveling. Now again, I would like to see "fragments" as measurable tasks or activities, then surely, it would be a "must have" for any schedule. All you have to do is to create WBS tailored exactly to your contract or project and then just pick "fragments" from your library and "eureka"! You got a dynamic schedule that would respond to automatic resource leveling anytime of the day. At least that's how I see it. Maybe you got different views?
Rafael Davila
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Posts: 4761

Without Standard Reference Books it would be very difficult to transfer among the different schedules; user defined fields, formulas, scripts, and report templates to name a few (out of over 50 options).  Standard Reference Books are so easy I use them almost every day. 

While Corporate Reference Books are way more powerful we do not use them.

Typical Fragment Library we find very handy when resource assignment is complex.

Bogdan Leonte
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Posts: 167

Vladimir,

I would like to give a straightforward answer to you original question, and the answer is that I find fragments extremly useful especially for internal calculations and since I always keep 2 schedules, one for Client, which is the contract schedule and one for myself in with I do all my calculations, risk analysis etc. it would be very difficult if I din't use fragments for the internal schedule.

Best regards,
Bogdan

Bogdan,

your way is OK but if you created the fragment for certain concrete or technoogy put it in the library and use without necessary changes next time when needed.

Anoon, SI units are fine but different projects may use different materials but the same activities like in example suggested by Bogdan when the same work required different concrete. So before using typical fragments some changes are needed.

If you created the fragment for 100 eters of the road and want to use it but for 120 meters of similar road just enter 1.2 in the corresponding field when the fragment is inserted into your project model. All information like volumes of work, material requirements, costs, durations will be automatically adjusted.

 

Anoon Iimos
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Gentlemen, I'm not sure what you were talking about. If it refers to design mix or perhaps sizes, then for me, that would be irrelevant to be specified in a "fragment". In my opinion, SI unit(s) for volumes or weights of materials would be more than enough. You're only after the schedule or productivity rates and has nothing to do with engineering design or specifications. Creating fragments may need some time, but it's not difficult. Now, for exact sizes or dimensions, in order to calculate areas and or volumes, then it's not a problem as well. Just leave the "fragment" open that can adapt to any sizes, volumes and or weights. For "piping works", commonly used units are "inch-dia." and "inch-meter", and have corresponding productivity rates as well. However, if you got specific BOQ then of course you have to follow all the units as specified in the BOQ, anyway it would be all SI units for sure.
Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

<<If you have a fragment for C20/25 concrete it is easy to modify it for C30/37 concrete and add to your library.>>

In a fragment I usually create general materials; in case of concrete: Code: Conc_Cxx_yy Name: Concrete C xx/yy. When I have to use it I change the xx and yy into the actual concrete I will have in my project, then use the fragment.

Is there an easier/more practical way?

Bogdan,

creating fragments for all possible types of work is the huge task that is not practical. They are created for current projects and are added to library for future use.

If you have a fragment for C20/25 concrete it is easy to modify it for C30/37 concrete and add to your library.

Yes, fragments are used for internal scheduling for understanding real costs, material and resource requirements. As I wrote earlier it is usual to have one schedule for contract management and another one for internal resource management. In some cases when the project is private and state norms are not mandatory they may be the same.

Anoon,

your interpretation of typical fragment is correct.

Resource productivity and material requirements per volume unit on fragment works may be entered and changed in the reference-books linked with the current fragment.

Entering volumes you will automatically get activity and fragment duration and costs.

Adding fragment into project schedule is easier than adding one activity.

Creating one activity instead of the fragment is wrong because different resources are used at different activity parts and so resource requirements will be wrong. It is usually done in high level schedules not intended for resource management.

 

About accounting and site reports. In my country acounting considers only accepted works. If some volume of work was done but an activity was not finished and acepted this volume does not go to the report for accounting system. And so actual work status and accounting work status are not the same.

Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

While I agree with you regarding the advantages of using fragments there are pros and cons which vary from project to project, from company to company and from country to country, here are some problems I belive exist:

  1. As a general rule fragments and BoQ should be linked in some way, in the sense that the fragment should be somehow parametric, they should allow you to quickly calculate the quantity for 1 item (Columns type A, for example). Also fragments should contain both Consumable Resources (Materials) and renewable resources (Labour, Construction Equiment, Construction Machines);
  2. The use utility of fragments depend on contract type. If you have Design and Build, you could easily use fragments to estimate and at the same time create the BoQ; while for Build contracts you get the BoQ from the Clients (at least this is how it work in the public sector in my country);
  3. Also the materials used from project to project may be different from project to project. On one project you have for columns concrete C20/25 and in other project you have C30/37, which implies that you have fragments for every possible combination or you have a general fragment for which you modify per project the materials needed;
  4. Another issue is that from country to country you may have state norms (the reference norms in my contry are from the 80's and when bidding you have to respect them even though you will use other materials/machines etc.);
  5. Also in my country when creating the project schedule I have to use only the items of the BoQ and I cannot add activities that are not in the BoQ.

I conclude that fragments are very useful in the following cases:

  1. In Design and Build contracts where you can use the fragments both to create the schedule and create the BoQ; But for this I have fragments created based on the state norms that I must use according to law;
  2. For Build contracts to have an overall view (at project level) of real costs depending on the technology you actually use vs. the BoQ items you have to bid. During contract execution I just compare the overall project costs vs the overall project price;
  3. Fragments are very good to use for internal calculations and not necesarily for oficial documents.

Best Regards,
Bogdan

Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir,

Here's my own version of a typical fragmentation of "Concreting Works" with corresponding resource(s) and units where needed (may apply to any type of concrete structure) and I believe that you can never go wrong when using automatic resource leveling:

1. Layout - Surveyor, Helper, - No. unit

2. Fabricate / Install Rebars - Kg or Ton; Steel Fixers, Helpers - No.; Tools - No.; Crane - Hr. or No.

3. Fadricate / Install Formworks - Sq.Meter (m2); Carpenters, Helpers - No.; Tools - No.; Crane - Hr. or No.

4. Quality Inspection - Inspectors - No. and Hr.

5. Concrete Pouring - Cubic Meter (m3); Masons, Helpers - No.; Tools - No.; Equipment (Truck Mixers, PumpCrete, Crane & Bucket) - Hrs. and No. where needed. 

6. Strike / Remove / Arrange Formworks - m2; Carpenters, Helpers - No.; Tools - No.; Equipment / Crane where necessary - Hrs. or No. 

When you consider the above items as measurable tasks, then for sure you can derive exact durations and exact corresponding resources for each tasks. And shall follow any dyanamic movement (or following logics) and shall correspond exactly to automatic leveling (You can never go wrong). 

Now, compare the above with say: One (1) Task or Activity: Construct Concrete Foundation - Cubic Meter (m3) and assign this one activity with multiple resources as described above. Isn't it a chaos? But I guess this is how current worldwide scheduling goes. What do you think? If I'm wrong, please tell me why?

Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir, in the mentioned proposal, accounting can be done live (real time and even forecasts), quick and accurately. No need for spreadsheets and or literal papers (another way of saving the planet earth). Payment Certificates can be signed electronically and saved in secure clouds. Now, talking of fragmentation or granules of activities, of course this is very important; this is where the BOQ is vital and must be digitally or electronically linked to the scheduling engine. Monitoring actual progress can be done by just encoding actual quantities (in real time), and Costs reports can be generated automatically (because of the electronically linked BOQ). Well, for sure traditional process like EVA will probably be forgotten. Does this make sense?

Not accounting! Accounting data are always late and do not show correct situation at the construction site. Actual data are required for proper planning of remaining work and are collected directly from the construction sites. I am not sure that monitoring and reporting will change soon.

Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir, Of course "construction technology" shall be defined by the planner or the team within the scheduling software (i.e. WBS, logics, resources etc.) and all data shall be taken directly and exactly from the 3D model and BOQ (from Detailed Engineering). Maybe tedious when setting up the plan but for sure you can capture necessary data accurately, and no need for adjustments unless there will be changes in designs. Once all necessary data are in place, then everything follows automatically. Imagine combining Scheduling, QS and Accounting - all in one; and all the data comes from true "Detailed Engineering". And of course any report(s) can be done in perhaps a couple of mouse clicks. I guess this shall make all traditional reporting and monitoring processes obsolete. What do you think?

Not straitforward. 3D model does not define construction technology to be used, resource crews that will be assigned, etc. Project shedule should use the data taken from 3D model and add technology and resource data, existing constraints, calendars and other information required for scheduling.

Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir, CAD 3D Models comes from original or unique designs, so these might be always in conflict if you got pre-defined data in your reference book or fragments library, which means that adjustments might always be necessary. Unlike if the recipient engine is always open for any fresh and or unique designs, then I guess it can capture exactly whatever data may comes into place, and no adjustments needed. That's how I see it (and of course I'm not sure if how it really works). Anyway, the intention is to form multi-dimensional modeling from 3D to 4D...5D and so on. Which shall include Time, Specific Resources (Manpower, Materials, Equipment), Costs and perhaps Trends. Do you think this is feasible?

Anoon, any tool can be used wrong way. And Spider Project users may decide if to create and to use fragments and reference-books or not. We recommend them as the powerful tool and consider them as "must" in the corporate project management systems. But they are not mandatory.

Spider Project can do flawless automatic resource leveling and creates shortest schedules.

Our first attempt to link project schedule with 3D modelling was made in 1997.  It was used at the major construction project to show project schedule (with all variances) to Government representatives. When this construction was finished all companies that were involved (several dozens) started to use Spider Project and no one bought the module responsible for 3D modelling. Their reason: "We know where we work without these pictures."

In 2005 Spider Project was linked with Revit by Hong Kong developers. As I learned later their software was used for showing the schedule for their customers and that's all.

Now BIM starts to became popular and we expect that the third attempt can become successful, so it is in our plans for the next year.

Meanwhile Spider Project shows project schedules as Time-Location charts (linear modeling) and as 2D models popular among Russian construction companies.

Download Demo here http://www.spiderproject.com/index.php/spiderproject/spiderdemo and try it. Let me know if you will have any questions.

 

Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir, Yes of course it is very helpful (to be honest). However, in my opinion, your "Reference Book" or library, may just mislead the user or the scheduler and might forget that he/she got a real BOQ (Bill of Quantities) in place and specific - for example. Again, it is very helpful if perhaps included as just a supplement (and not obvious) to the principal engine, by way of forming or enhancing multi-dimensional modeling. Trust me, if your software can do flawless automatic resource leveling and can ultimately form multi-dimensional modeling, then please don't forget me in the future.