Drew Tubb, Sr. Aquatic Systems Engineer
In the construction world, the value engineering (VE) phase often occurs as projects move from their initial design to the construction documentation phase. I have found that many in the aquatic systems world interpret value engineering exclusively as an exercise in which aspects of a project are cut to bring down the bottom line cost. In reality, the true purpose of value engineering is to fundamentally improve the value of the project. When evaluating a project during the VE phase, designers are looking for modifications which increase system function without increasing dollars spent, or decrease dollars spent without sacrificing function.
Finding better value for dollars spent involves critical thinking about the initial design. Are there pumps on the market other than those specified that fit the application targets but operate more efficiently? If so, a reduced electric bill provides added value to the project. Similarly, if commercially available alternative equipment is proven more robust or offers a longer warranty, the gained security adds value. In some instances, downsizing and duplicating equipment provides the security of redundancy and can be more cost-effective.
Cost of ownership and maintenance should be considered in the VE phase while looking for better value for dollars spent. How much do replacement parts cost? Is there equipment available that does the same job but will be substantially less expensive to rebuild? Could equipment location within the mechanical space be laid out differently to improve maintenance access, thereby lowering long-term maintenance labor costs?
In some instances, the project simply comes in over budget and the bottom line needs to decrease. The goal in this instance should be to decrease dollars spent without sacrificing function. The need for all included components should be evaluated, but simply cutting out equipment to save money shouldn’t be the goal. Have alternate equipment manufacturers been considered? Could the designed flow rate be reduced without sacrificing filtration efficiency? Re-evaluation of equipment sizing criteria can be a powerful way to decrease dollars spent without substantially altering functionality. Have alternate technologies been considered, such as UV sterilization instead of ozone? Has consideration been given to using pre-fabricated filtration modules rather than field-installing all equipment?
Value Engineering is a vital phase of successful project design, and should not be overlooked no matter the health of the project budget. A good designer will successfully navigate this phase to provide maximum value for your project. It is very important to partner with a designer skilled and experienced in balancing you project’s exact needs and expectations with the budget available to maximize value. As a client, your biggest part in the process is to communicate your specific needs to your designer and work with them to evaluate your best options. It is important to remember that this is your project, and you deserve to get the most value possible.