The Owner’s Perspective on Modular Construction Implementation

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Martin Clutterbuck, Manager of Fabrication & Modularization at Devon Energy Canada has a unique perspective as an Oil & Gas Industry Owner. It enables him and his team to have a birds-eye view of the entire modular construction process from feasibility through to operations. In this interview, he discusses the benefits and inhibitors to this ability, and more.

In what ways do you believe your perspective as an Owner enables you to have a birds-eye view of the entire modular construction process from feasibility through to operations? What are the benefits and inhibitors of this ability?

You’re correct that we do have that bird’s eye view as owners, so we get the whole picture. We get to see from early development into what sort of projects we’re looking at and then we can develop and see what the modularization and fabrication plan is for the project. We do that early so we’re there prior to us really getting into the engineering stage and that discussion happens as a group within our organization a lot earlier than would normally happen if we came in later during an engineering phase.

Where, in your opinion, do organizations fall short with their modular and prefabrication implementation plan? Which factors are often overlooked and therefore inhibit success?

I think part of that is we have the opportunity to have some input and support the design and we can really get what we want. We can really focus on the requirements of our modularization plan. We typically know the list of fabricators we want to go to. We have the opportunity to really support the construction execution plan build. We understand what the start up and the commission criteria is and obviously, ultimately it’s operations and their need to maintain an operating facility.

One of the things where some people may fall short is the discipline to wait long enough for the design. Modularization projects tend to take more work and effort upfront and you have to have the discipline to wait until you have all the information, and the correct information, to go into fabrication and modularization. What you can’t do is continually change your mind and I know as owners sometimes we have that thing where we change our minds but we need to make sure we have that level of detail and information we need to have before getting into fabrication.

How do you determine which prefabricated modules are best suited for your construction plan?

I think ultimately you have to have a philosophy within your organization of what you want to modularize. You have to make a decision early and upfront of what that is, so you should have an idea of what your modularization goals are. For example, you may want to look at what percentage of the plant you want modularized or what can be modularized within the facility. You want to look at where the facility is located, what resources are available to you to build it and, lastly, whether you need to build it offshore or locally or wherever possible reducing your risks out in the field.

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