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Project management on Adelaide Desalination Project recognised as world class

L-R: Brett Nilsen and Milund Kumar

L-R: Brett Nilsen and Milund Kumar

29 October 2013 - SA Water’s Adelaide Desalination Project has been named project of the year at the Project Management Institute’s awards ceremony held in New Orleans, United States of America, on 27 October.

“We congratulate SA Water on their project being recognised as world class by the largest association for the project management profession,” Aurecon’s Major Projects Leader Brett Nilsen said.

SA Water initially appointed Aurecon to undertake technical studies and investigations. Aurecon was later appointed as technical advisor and client’s engineer, undertaking a project management role for the 100 Giga Litre (GL) desalination plant. At the request of SA Water, Nilsen undertook the role of Senior Project Manager responsible for managing the AUD1.2 billion contract and leading an integrated, site-based team consisting of SA Water staff and a range of consulting firms specialising in engineering, project management, commercial, legal and cost advice.

“The success of this project belongs to every person who has contributed to it during the past five years,” SA Water Project Director Milund Kumar said.

“Building a desalination plant of this calibre and quality is no easy feat, and the leadership team, specialist advisers, and project contractors brought their passion, commitment, and focus to deliver a quality asset.

“The award especially recognises the project management approach and the ‘one team’ culture,” Kumar said.

“The relationship-style approach adopted for this project enhanced team collaboration, resulting in joint problem solving, high quality design and plant performance, reduced variations and timely project delivery,” Nilsen said.

Recognising the challenging timeframes set for delivery, a dedicated programme control team was deployed by SA Water from commencement until completion. “A key function of this team was to interrogate and analyse trends for each work element, bringing in ‘what if’ scenarios, so as to develop mitigation strategies ahead of potential time impact events occurring,” Nilsen said.

A robust contract change control process was established upfront, which comprised a multidisciplinary review of proposed changes.

The original business case for the project estimated an overall project budget of AUD1.960 billion. Taking account of risk assessments, risk quantification and robust processes to manage the key risks, the SA Water Board and Cabinet agreed to approve a lower budget target of AUD1.824 billion as part of the Cabinet approval process.

A fully auditable cost control process which incorporated scheduling and recording of all expended funds, analysing projected capital spends and managing changes to forecasted works, together with input from the Independent Verifier, ensured rigorous monitoring and control of the project budget against works as they progressed.

SA Water delivered commercial handover of the plant 19 days ahead of schedule, within the original approved budget of AUD1.824 billion while achieving industry benchmarks in quality and durability.


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