Project Management in Plant Engineering and Construction

From pre-engineering to the start-up

There are a great variety of definitions for the term “project”, for example according to DIN, IPMA, PRINCE2. All definitions have something in common: a project is a targeted, one-time undertaking that consists of a starting and finishing date and is carried out in order to achieve an objective (e.g. a product or service) taking into consideration requirements in connection with time, resources and quality.

Hence, according to DIN 69901, project management is defined at the complete set of management tasks, organization, techniques and tools for the initiation, definition, planning, control and conclusion of projects.” A project manager is responsible to the customer for the project and has a duty to report. To carry this out, he requires knowledge of project management, product-specific or domain knowledge, endurance and resilience, interpersonal and communication skills as well as “common sense.”

Plant engineering and construction differentiates between the different phases in a project.

Pre engineering:

The technical, financial and administrative boundary conditions are determined and compared to the requirements of the customer. Different concepts are compared in a feasibility study, and there is a decision as to whether or not the plant will be built.

Basic engineering:

The decision for the technically and economically most advantageous concept is made by basic engineering, and it starts the development phase with the first determination of the costs and revenues for the pipelines needed for a power plant. At the end of this phase is the procedural basis and planning, 3D model and conceptual design, specialized design planning (e.g. pipeline construction, electrical systems, instrumentation and control technology, construction, technical building equipment and much more), the concept for the health and environmental protection, safety protection, a concept for procurement and the structure for the next steps of project management. All the necessary decisions for the construction of the plant are made here.

Detail engineering:

The exact description and detailed design of the individual technical components happens here. In the process, all the documents are prepared for the various trades that allow the construction of the plant. The individual trades are process engineering, construction (building construction and civil engineering and the structural steelwork), systems engineering (piping, apparatus construction and mechanical engineering), electrical engineering (high and medium voltage), technical building equipment as well as procurement.


This phase of the project addresses the specific request for the specific components for the individual trades described in detail engineering. Different offers are collected for this and checked for cost, quality and on-time delivery performance and then selected. The respective components are then ordered.

Construction phase:

The plan that was developed is executed at the construction site with the ordered components in this construction phase. Green-field (in the open countryside) or brown field (e.g. in a chemical park) are differentiated here. The individual trades of the plant are gradually built, starting with the building construction and civil engineering, foundation construction and structural steelwork.


The commissioning of the new plant takes place at the end of a project management cycle. The first use of a plant for which clean documentation can be demonstrated (e.g. EC directives, EU declaration of conformity, CE marking) is called a cold start-up. Water is mostly used as a medium in order to give the machine an initial trial run. This is followed by the hot start-up with the actual medium, and the plant begins its service.

This may be for building a new plant or re-engineering or retrofitting an existing one.

Project management in plant engineering and construction comprises:

  • project coordination and assistance
  • scheduling and tracking
  • project development
  • site management
  • claim management
  • document management

ROSA – Project management experts in the area of plant engineering and construction