Considering Engineering Change Management in Project Realisation : The Case of Offshore Platform Projects

Abstract: Offshore wind converter platforms are complex installations that increase the competitiveness of offshore wind as an energy source. Prior research in the field of offshore platform project execution has focused on early project phases and planning as means to increase project reliability. Later phases such as fabrication, transport and installation have not received the same attention from academia and industry. Projects of this type frequently suffer both large and small deviations. The further projects progress, the more deviations they accumulate. The accumulated deviations have to be resolved in a timely manner so as to avoid impairing the quality and scheduling of an overall project. This research explores the design of converter platforms and the management of engineering change in relation to fabrication, transport and installation in order to increase the overall reliability of projects.Two offshore platform projects in three case studies form the source of empirical data. The first of the three studies considered prior research connected to fabrication and installation of offshore platforms. In the second study, the effect of two different platform designs on the fabrication and installation process was investigated. The third study considered engineering change management as a tool to achieve changeability, and examined its ability to buffer against deviations affecting later project phases i.e. fabrication, transport and installation. The findings revealed that the design’s effects on a project’s outcome are often not the driver of reliability. Rather, it was found that engineering change management is essential to any project to manage the changeable nature of projects. This research also raises concerns as to how much engineering change to allow for and in what project phase. That engineering change, as a tool, should preferably be used sparingly in early phases and as necessary in later phases. The observed engineering change process in the studied projects was chaotic.  This research suggests that engineering change can be organised around change carriers. In this way, it is predicted that the processes of change can become more stable and predictable.