by Lori Riddle
1 Comment

Lets get startedBinu Chaudhary, regional commercial manager for oil, gas & petrochemicals at Mott MacDonald Singapore, will be talking about effective terminal design at the Tank Storage Asia conference in December. Ahead of her program, she wrote an article for Tank Storage Magazine, outlining one key aspect of effective terminal design - front end engineering. We're taking a look at her article and talking about how tank contractors can contribute to the sort of front-end efforts she recommends.

Binu Chaudhary's article stresses the absolute necessity of bottom-up planning for terminals, and her comments are applicable to any major project, including projects that involve storage tanks – from API 650 terminal tanks to API 620, AWWA D-100 and NFPA tanks, as well as API 653 tank repair projects and specialty welded steel vessels like absorbers, ductwork and stacks. For all projects, spending less time on the front end leads to increased potential for runaway budgets and schedules and decreased potential for project success.

Chaudhary says front end engineering is so important because “the opportunity to influence the outcome reduces exponentially as the project develops. Front end engineering helps define the scope of the project and provides an opportunity to the owner of the facility to make the right decisions and manage risks effectively. Time should be invested upfront to understand the objectives, assess the options, deliberate on the risks and review the project execution strategy till an optimum option is justified and demonstrated. The cost of doing this are in the range of 3-4% of the total project cost. In the long run it leads to optimum project cost, delivery on time and a safe, efficient facility.”

For projects that involve tanks, from full scale terminal projects, like Chaudhary's article describes, to complex power generation facilities to single water tank projects, investing time up front in planning all aspects of the tank design, fabrication and construction or repair is the way to ensure project success.

Front-End Tank Design Planning

Working with a tank contractor in the early stages of a project allows for optimum results – a project that is completed on schedule, within budget, and delivers a final product that is an asset to the organization. A tank contractor can assist very early on with technical information about tanks; depending on the nature of the project, the engineer, owner, general contractor or project manager may or may not have a thorough understanding of tank requirements and options. Working with a tank contractor that can provide engineering support can help ensure that the final product not only performs as needed, but also offers the best value.

Front-End Schedule Planning

Construction schedules are key to any project, and if the project involves a tank, there are serious schedule considerations. Information about schedules for materials delivery, tank foundations, construction, testing and painting is essential as the overall project is being developed. A tank contractor can help the project team understand the time considerations, as well as how the site conditions, weather, accessibility and other factors will impact the tank portion of the project.

Front-End Budget Planning

Front-end efforts usually include some sort of budgetary consideration, but in terms of tanks, this is a step that deserves adequate attention and effort. Budgetary pricing is only as accurate as the information available at the time of the estimate. Working closely with a tank contractor to exchange as much information as possible during the budgetary stage will help everyone involved have a clear, realistic understanding of what’s being planned and what implementation might look like. Costs will change, depending on steel prices, labor availability and other factors, but a budgetary estimate based on solid, detailed information about the project constraints, requirements, desired outcomes, and key considerations will be far more helpful than a poorly informed guess.

Front-End Safety Planning

In addition to having a major impact on the efficiency and overall success of a project, investing time in thorough planning has a tremendous effect on the safety of a project. Taking time before boots hit the ground to consider every aspect of the site, the equipment involved, the work to do and the personnel who will do it is the only way to keep people safe. Chaudhary emphasizes “this is the right time to thrash out all options and ensure that the proposed design is in alignment with the project objectives.  It is also very important to chalk the safety roadmap at this stage since the decisions taken early will influence the safety through every stage of the project construction and operation.” We know from our own 65 years in tank building that safety must be a consideration long before mobilization of our tank erection crews. Working with the entire project team, from the beginning, to put safety plans in place is absolutely vital.

The Right Partner From The Beginning = Optimum Results

Sometimes building a tank is a very small portion of an enormous, complex project. Sometimes, as in bulk liquid storage terminals, storage tanks figure prominently in a project. And sometimes, as in the case of a municipal water storage tank, a single tank is the focus of a project. In all cases, front-end engineering, and early-stage collaboration with the tank builder, is key to the success of the project.  Binu Chaudhary puts it this way: “Project success therefore hinges greatly on a robust front end design.  Benefits are seen not only in terms of cost and time but more importantly towards enhanced safety and operability of the facility.”  We second that assertion, and encourage project managers, engineers, general contractors, owners and facility managers involved in API 650, API 620, AWWA D-100, NFPA, API 653 or specialty welded steel vessel projects to consider early stage partnership with a tank company as an integral part of overall planning.


See Binu Chaudhary’s article here.

More on the Tank Storage Asia conference.

Find our more about partnering with Fisher Tank Company to get your tank projects right the first time.

tank construction terminal construction

Leave a Comment

Have a question for our team? Contact us today!
Information Request