Enabling project and
engineering success!

Minimising engineering and project problems and disputes

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Comments |

I recently commented in the context of ‘troubleshooting and fixing’ that “challenges and potential problems are an ever-present reality and ‘come with the territory’ in the engineering, projects and operations environment. How their likelihood is minimised, and how they are handled when they do occur, is therefore vital in minimising their potential impact and in effectively managing or dealing with the outcomes”. In our professional advisory/consulting practice, one of our principal areas of practice is in ‘troubleshooting and fixing’, which includes forensic engineering and consulting. Through this, we also have particular opportunity to add to our own knowledge base and insights into what can and does go wrong, and associated contributory factors. In addition, we are also always learning from our own engineering and project experiences. In this column, I would like to share just a few (and, very obviously, non-exhaustive) thoughts towards achieving successful engineering and project outcomes. An upfront and early (in the engineering & project life-cycle) investment in structuring, planning, analysis and front-end design offers a key contributory role in the reduction of engineering and project related risks, and hence in enabling the success of projects (a ‘front-end loading’ approach). This includes a thorough understanding of the engineering application and project scope, requirements, environment and circumstances, risks, constraints, and the like. This is particularly pertinent to complex applications and projects involving infrastructure, systems and product development and implementation, and people, where the complexity of the projects and applications generally require a very structured, systematic approach in order to succeed. I am an ardent proponent of a structured systems engineering approach. Within a front-end loaded and structured approach, it is also important to ‘be real’ and avoid a false sense of security. Some elements of that include: Manage the risks – know (and understand) what you don’t know – manage the uncertainty. Allocate the risks appropriately, where they can be best managed. Design the solutions appropriately – don’t just do things by rote or ‘because that’s the way we always do it’. Be proactive – don’t wait for things to happen – ‘anticipate and pre-empt’. Understand your own, and your organisation’s, limitations and capabilities (and complement and supplement the capabilities, either internally or externally). Mentor and build the team. Build-in (and stick to) a rigorous, traceable and quality assurance driven process at all stages (including appropriate milestone reviews) – and remember the benefit of external insights, including objectivity and freshness. Ian McKechnie (CEng, IntPE(SA), PrEng) CEO – Engenamic This comment originally appeared in the Write@theBack column of the August 2017 edition of Electricity & Control....

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Solar plants – managing the lightning risk

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Comments |

Solar plants, particularly (but certainly not only) large facilities such as utility-scale PV plants, present particular challenges in respect of lightning protection.  Engenamic, with their team’s leading specialist professional engineering expertise in the field of lightning safety and lightning protection, observe that there are particular general characteristics of such sites and applications that contribute to their exposure and vulnerability to the deleterious effects of lightning. Engenamic CEO and principal advisor/consultant Ian McKechnie noted that “in particular, they present a complex site and application environment, and this complexity impacts directly on the broad-based risks and engineering (and other) management challenges associated with lightning safety and lightning protection”. Engenamic noted that these are typically large and geographically extended sites, with factors such as the extensive interconnected electrical and electronic equipment and system elements adding to the complexity and challenges to be addressed and managed in a holistic and integrated manner. Often these sites are located in areas with difficult grounding conditions such as poor soil resistivities, which together with the extended and interconnected nature of these plants, adds to the challenges presented in respect of ground potential rises and differential voltages across the site and between elements, and consequent risks to the interconnected systems and equipment. Plant equipment is also relatively exposed to both direct strikes and to the induced effects of the electromagnetic fields associated with lightning strikes. Engenamic commented, for example, that these fields can potentially affect and damage buried services (such as cables) as well as above-ground equipment. The damage to buried services (such as insulation damage) can also potentially only become apparent at a later stage (‘latent damage’). Engenamic also stated that whilst plants of this nature might not be extensively manned, this can vary during different times (for example during construction and maintenance) and the risks associated with injury must still be carefully considered, in addition to the risk of economic loss. On the topic of risk, Engenamic noted that the nature and characteristics of such plants required a careful consideration of the risk assessment methodology, including the judicious use of risk areas or zones as appropriate. In particular a qualitative risk assessment should inform any quantitative assessment (with appropriate selection of parameters), as well as form part of a ‘broad-based’ risk assessment. McKechnie commented that the nature of such plants and the associated risks emphasises the need for an effective, holistic lightning protection solution that is coherent across all aspects. Important aspects and elements of such a solution include, for example, direct strike protection, site-wide equipotentialisation, and the careful, considered  and consistent definition and application of lightning protection zones (and of their boundary management) – the latter includes the appropriate and coherent application of surge...

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Effectively manage lightning risks for complex applications

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Comments |

“What do airports, mines, power generation plants (including renewables) and power infrastructure, communications/data infrastructure and large industrial plants like oil & gas have in common? They are all particularly exposed and vulnerable to the effects of lightning, and the consequences can be particularly severe.” According to Engenamic, with their team’s leading specialist professional engineering expertise in the field of lightning safety and lightning protection, there are particular general characteristics of such sites and applications that contribute to this vulnerability and exposure. In particular, they present complex site and application environments from a variety of aspects (not just technical) – and this complexity impacts directly on the broad-based risks and engineering (and other) management challenges associated with lightning safety and lightning protection. These complexities also mean that a holistic, sound and systematic engineering approach is required, that goes beyond a simplistic application of standards. Consequently, Engenamic advise that effective management of these risks requires that solutions are comprehensively engineered and managed through an appropriate and systems engineering approach using appropriate professional...

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Paw-paws, fans, and sleepless nights – take the Engenamic remedy

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Comments |

Challenges and potential problems are an ever-present reality and ‘come with the territory’ in the engineering, projects and operations environment. How their likelihood is minimised, and how they are handled when they do occur, is therefore vital in minimising their potential impact and in effectively managing or dealing with the outcomes. At Engenamic – your ‘go-to’ project, engineering and management ‘troubleshooters and fixers’ – we leverage our team members’ project, engineering and management expertise and experience to support you or your client throughout the project, engineering and operational lifecycle. An independent or ‘third’ party such as Engenamic is typically well placed (indeed, is often best-placed) to objectively address or advise in this respect. Whilst a proactive approach to minimising and managing project and engineering risks is strongly recommended, we are also able to assist clients in respect of reactive interventions and support to problems and issues that arise during the project, engineering and operational lifecycle. Our value-adding services and support at Engenamic are therefore both proactive and reactive in nature, including for example: Proactive support, through our strategic advisory services, to minimise the likelihood of problems and challenges arising. Reactive support, through assessments and investigations (including forensic engineering and forensic project/operations consulting), as well as remedial advisory and consulting as required. These services include or support project assessments/reviews and audits, engineering design reviews, procurement process reviews, tender reviews,  project and engineering investigations, due-diligence exercises (projects, engineering and business related), related business process and system reviews and advisory, and similar activities. You can be confident that, at Engenamic, we will assist you to objectively minimise and manage risks, avoid or minimise potential disputes, troubleshoot and assess actual or potential problem situations, manage/support disputes or claims that may have arisen, provide or assist with independent and impartial investigations as required, and to rectify the situation (remediation) from a project and/or engineering and management perspective. Our team members can also provide independent and impartial mediation and adjudication services, as well as expert forensic consulting and witness services. Contact us at Engenamic today – our services are offered and available internationally on a worldwide basis Engenamic – empowering you beyond the...

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Expert solutions for lightning safety and lightning protection challenges

Posted by on Jul 9, 2016 in Comments |

As we move into or towards the lightning season in many parts of the world, lightning safety and lightning protection moves to “front of mind”. Numerous recent events internationally, including many associated deaths and injuries, have also highlighted the safety risks associated with lightning.  Many applications, such as those in mining, oil & gas (petrochemical), airports/aviation and other transportation systems (such as railways), renewable energy (such as PV and wind plants), as well as large conventional power and industrial plants and outdoor sporting and recreational facilities, all present particular lightning-related challenges as “complex applications”. This was noted by Ian McKechnie, CEO of project and engineering advisors and solutions provider Engenamic, who commented that “the complexity of these applications, insofar as lightning safety and lightning protection is concerned, arises from a combination of particular factors. These include, for example, that such sites typically have relatively exposed persons, infrastructure, equipment and systems, often over an extended area. They also typically include a diverse and complex range of people, systems, technologies and interfaces in a dynamic and constantly changing environment, as well as application and site specific factors such as possible presence of hazardous locations and particular site conditions”. He added that “these are some examples of factors that impact directly on the risks associated with lightning safety and lightning protection, and which require careful consideration in developing solutions”. He also noted that their team members’ professional expert consultation in various matters, including in investigative, forensic, remedial and mediation roles, had highlighted many shortcomings in both engineering approach and in the addressing of application specifics. Ian Jandrell, CTO of Engenamic, added that a well-structured and engineered solution can nevertheless manage the lightning safety and lightning protection risks for these applications. He cautioned however that it was important that appropriate expertise and experience be applied in addressing challenges and developing solutions. “At Engenamic, our team is lead by reputable engineering professionals who are not only recognised as experts in lightning protection and lightning safety, but who also have broad-based experience in engineering management and project management, as well as in forensic and remedial engineering. This provides them with the insights, experience and expertise to appreciate the broader implications and to address the complexities associated with both ‘greenfield’ and ‘brownfield’ applications”. McKechnie concluded that the Engenamic team members had extensive and international experience in lightning safety and lightning protection (including through sister company Innopro, now part of the Engenamic family) and that their services are offered on a world-wide basis. Don’t hesitate – Call us today for expert professional support –...

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Engenamic and Wits University drive electrical energy capacity-building agenda for Africa

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Comments |

“Energy, and sustainable access to energy (in particular electrical energy), is a great development enabler, enabling other infrastructure and development, industrialization, and economic growth. It also facilitates access to the evolving global “digital or knowledge-based economy”, which access will be key to future African growth and development within the evolving global economic paradigm.” Ian McKechnie, CEO of management, project and engineering advisors Engenamic, was commenting on the capacity-building programme initiative, dubbed enableAFRICA, that Engenamic is spearheading together with the University of the Witwatersrand. He further noted that particular challenges are facing the electrical energy sector in Africa. “For example, the continent is vast and characterized by large distances between natural sources of energy and load centers, and deep disparity in the nature and characteristics of the energy grids that will need to be established and interconnected to realize a sustainable energy future for the continent. Furthermore, and notwithstanding the development of grid-based access to electricity, off-grid electrification (and associated “small power systems”) is also a major component (and challenge) in developing access to electricity across Africa. Small power systems include, for example, localized generation (particularly, but not only renewables), and mini/micro grids (localized smart grids).” McKechnie stated that the aim of the enableAFRICA programme was to establish and facilitate a collaborative and inclusive pan-African network, aimed at building and unlocking broad-based sustainable capacity in infrastructure development, establishment and operation, through: Skills development (technical & non-technical), as key to building sustainable capacity. Relevant research and knowledge development, focused towards African needs and priorities. Confidence building, through facilitating, de-risking and supporting investment and industry, and through facilitating engineering, technical and project support. He stated that a key objective of the programme is to build this broad-based sustainable capacity in Africa, for Africa, and (as far as possible) by Africa, and in doing so to synergise with and capacitate existing (and future) organisations, agencies, programmes and projects in a symbiotic manner. He commented further that the approach adopted in formulating the initiative and associated vision has been an inclusive one. South Africa, the African region (and further afield) are faced by real constraints, including availability of skilled and financial resources as mentioned above. “It is therefore important that the existing facilities and capabilities across the continent be leveraged and mutually supported, and a holistic approach across the three key attributes is coordinated, integrated, facilitated and supported”. McKechnie concluded that as the team moves forward to engage with role players across the continent to develop this inclusive enableAfrica initiative further, they are excited and enthused by the potential to meet the challenges and to build sustainable enabling capacity in the energy sector – by Africa, in Africa, for...

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