How Can One Define the True Critical Path Of A Construction Project?
Sr. Project Controls Specialist
Conconity Project Services
It has been my experience over the last 17 years that when developing the Construction Baseline Schedule it is developed and tracked by Area and Discipline. After the project is anywhere between 40% to 60% complete the schedule will revert from an Area Schedule into a System Schedule. Normally if the System Schedule is tied to the Area Schedule it is with an arbitrary tie.
It is my assertion that the true Critical Path can not be defined until after the System Schedule has been developed. To get a true Critical Path your Area Schedule needs to be tracked by Systems as well.
For example if you have Area "A" Piping. You would need to break it out further by Area "A" HP Steam Piping. Area "A" MP Steam Piping. Area "A" LP Steam Piping. Area "A" Utility Air Piping. Area "A" Condensate Piping. As well as the rest of the Systems. You would need to define each System and Redline the P&ID's to show the systems. The activities for a piece of equipment that would be needed to finish out each system would need to be connected to the various systems it intersected with.
The above is just an example. This would mean that you would have to define the systems before the Baseline is developed. You would also have to prioritize the systems as well as estimate the hours needed for Pre-startup Testing as well as Commissioning activities.
With the Fast Track Projects that we do today I believe that it would be very unlikely that this would ever be done.
Because of this I believe that you will find what a Project Team believes to be the Critical Path will be based on empirical evidence and impossible to prove.
Would anyone care to share their thoughts on this subject?