landfills: Six Steps To Value Engineering

Diminishing budgets and increased demand for quality have made "value engineering (VE)" the buzz words integral to many solid waste projects' success.

An organized, systematic approach to strategically analyze a solid waste project, VE's goal is to maintain or improve functions and quality while reducing cost. Formal VE is governed by a proven, structured, systematic review process that identifies both required and unnecessary functions and then identifies alternative ways to perform the functions at a lower life-cycle cost while delivering needed value.

All participants can profit during the VE process, according to Cambridge, Mass.-based Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM). For example, the owner can benefit by receiving superior results with enhanced value at lower cost.

The project team can benefit by having the project validated by an independent third party, offering suggestions for improved value. And, the consultant can benefit by being associated with a successful project.

The key elements in CDM's VE process include pre-study preparation, a VE workshop and post-study VE procedures.

A VE workshop consists of an intensive work session which systematically analyzes a solid waste project for optimization of cost, energy, operation and maintenance. The six-phase workshop focuses on:

Orientation. The owner's representative briefs the VE team by reviewing all materials related to the project (pre-design reports, cost estimates, etc.)

Information. The design team briefs the VE team on previous construction projects at the site. This allows the VE team to learn more about the project's background. During this phase, the project's mission and functions being performed are identified.

Creative. The VE team identifies possible methods to provide the necessary functions at a lower cost to the owner or to improve the end product's value.

Judgment. The VE team evaluates the ideas generated in the creative phase, determining which ideas have the most merit for further development. Criteria used to select these ideas include inherent value, benefit and technical appropriateness, potential for the idea's acceptance by the owner and expected magnitude of potential cost savings or value added by the idea.

Development. The VE team expands each idea into a workable solution. The development consists of a description of the recommended design, life-cycle cost comparisons and an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed recommendations.

Presentation. The VE team presents all findings and recommendations to the owner and project team. In addition to a formal oral presentation, the owner and design team representatives are presented with a document summarizing the VE team's findings and recommendations.

When choosing the independent third party to conduct a VE process, be sure that the third party is an expert in the project area. A VE consultant should be chosen carefully, meeting all criteria and demonstrating a superior knowledge in the project area.

For projects that do not have the benefit of a third-party VE study, many of the techniques described above can be applied to conduct an informal, internal analysis to ensure a project is cost effective and tested before outside use.

VE techniques can be applied at any stage of a project: planning, conceptual design, preliminary design, detailed design, bid documents, construction, or operations and maintenance.

These techniques will result in recommendations that add needed value; reduce initial, annual and total-life cycle costs; confirm design criteria and decisions; and achieve a quality project.

Acquisition San Francisco-based URS Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Denver-based Woodward-Clyde Group Inc. The proposed combination reportedly will create the country's fifth largest engineering firm, with revenues of approximately $800 million and more than 6,000 employees. Terms of the agreement call for Woodward-Clyde stockholders to receive $100 million. The transaction is scheduled to close in November.

Alliance Hardy Instruments Inc., San Diego, and TransComp Systems Inc., Irvine, Calif., have formed a strategic alliance to offer product integration between Hardy's STRATEGY Computerized Collection System and TransComp's Tower 2000 software.