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Construction Science“Time is of the essence.” We see that phrase so often in construction contracts that we hardly give it a second thought. The origin of this phrase, however, is quite interesting. Indeed, it was the greatest construction project ever achieved in the United States: the transcontinental railroad. The project was deemed “impossible” at the time yet several larger-than-life individuals bet their personal fortunes that it could be done.

Perhaps even more audacious was to start such a monumental project while the Civil War was also underway. But you could argue that the Civil War made the transcontinental railroad possible. Southern States wanted a route along the thirty-second parallel line – i.e. within their territories. The North, not surprisingly, favored a more northerly route along the forty-second parallel. When the Southern States declared their independence, the North was free to pursue the route they favored.

The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 provided a funding mechanism for the transcontinental railroad. It also created two of the largest companies in the United States that until then did not even exist: the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad. Neither company was paid directly to build the railroad; instead land grants and Government bonds were earned for each 20-mile segment of track laid. The railroad companies would then sell the bonds and land to raise capital.

The Union Pacific started west from Omaha (the western terminus of existing railroads at the time) while the Central Pacific started east from Sacramento, CA. Even so, the Government would not say where the tracks should meet and avoided making this decision for several more years. As a result, the transcontinental railroad became a race, as the company that built the most track would reap the most rewards.

My wife and I live in the Sacramento area, but we also own property in Truckee, which sits 6,000 feet higher in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Riding the train today we are following for the most part the original route. Right before Truckee we pass near the original Summit Tunnel, more than 1,600 feet long and carved out of solid granite by the Central Pacific using nothing more than hand tools, black power and (occasionally) nitroglycerin.

Historian Stephen Ambrose described it this way in his book, Nothing Like it in the World:

“There was only room for gangs of three men. One would hold the rock drill against the granite, while the other two would swing eighteen-pound sledgehammers to hit the back end of the drill. Of all the backbreaking labor that went into the building of the CP and the UP, of all the dangers inherent in the work, this was the worst.

The drills lost their edge to the granite and had to be replaced frequently. The CP soon learned to order its drills in hundred-ton lots. The man holding the drill had to be steady or he would get hit by the sledgehammer. The man swinging the sledgehammer had to have muscles like steel. When the hole was at last big enough for the black powder, the crew would fill it, set a fuse, yell as loud as they could while running out of the range of the blast, and hope. Sometimes the fuse worked, sometimes it didn’t.”


The amount of black powder being used – up to 300 kegs per day – was not economical, “for the simple reason that the workers were told that time, not money, was of the essence.”


Even so, progress was often limited to six to twelve inches per day. To speed up construction, the Central Pacific began worked from four directions. They worked from the east side of the mountain as well as the west, and dug a shaft at the top of the mountain to start working east and west from inside the mountain.

Elsewhere, track was laid on frozen ground if necessary. The Union Pacific used wet cottonwood ties in many locations because it was the only wood available. Trestle bridges replaced more time-consuming embankments. It was understood that much of the track would have to be rebuilt within a few years. Given the choice of building it well or building it fast, Stephen Ambrose estimates that 90% of Americans would have voted to build it fast.

Towards the very end both railroads a competition developed over which railroad could lay the most track in one day. The Central Pacific won, laying 10 miles of track in one day – a feat that has not been equaled since. Mind you this was all done with horses, wagons and manpower. It was estimated that each of the eight track layers lifted 125 tons of steel that day. They laid 240 feet of track every 75 seconds.

The transcontinental railroad even changed our perception of time. Prior to its construction, local communities set their own time. But the railroad companies needed a “standard time” in order to publish schedules. Thus, the United States was split into four time zones. And for the first time in thousands of years, man could travel at a pace faster than a horse. The technology of the locomotive, combined with manpower, conquered space and time.

When Donald Trump was a Client

Categories: Construction Claims, Consulting
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This is not a political post, but surely we get enough of that elsewhere. Rather, this is a story about a construction claim I became involved in back in the early 1990s. I worked for a New Jersey construction consulting firm at the time. My firm was hired by Donald Trump to defend against a lawsuit filed by an electrical contractor on the Trump Plaza Garage in Atlantic City. The garage was located next to the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino.

It is admittedly a misnomer to say that Donald Trump was my client. Each building that Donald Trump owned was a separate Limited Liability Corporation. The parking garage itself was a LLC and therefore shielded from any litigation that might affect the adjacent Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, or any other Trump property for that matter. My client was really the garage. As clients go I have certainly had worse and I didn’t have to buy it dinner.

The first interesting part about this project was the contract. The attorneys spent so much time hammering out the details that the contract was not executed until a couple of months before the project ended. Regardless of the reasons, I thought it was very risky for a contractor to start work without a signed agreement. The electrical contractor was not my client of course, but he was the one spending all the money and hoping to get paid.

The second interesting part was the electrical contractor’s contradictory behavior. Early on, the electrical contractor apparently realized he had the basis of a claim. But he then signed each month’s pay application, which contained an unconditional waiver of any known disputes. And he did this on the advice of his attorney, who just happened to be his daughter. It was not until the final pay application was awaiting signature that the electrical contractor revealed his claim.

Trump’s attorneys filed a counterclaim based on these unconditional waivers. After all, the electrical contractor had stated on several occasions that he did not have any claims. The contract (a standard American Institute of Architects agreement) also had a notice provision that required the contractor to make claims in a timely manner. Waiting until the end of the project to pounce with a claim was prejudicial to the owner who expected there was an agreement on the project’s cost.

Notice provisions in a contract serve a very important purpose. As explained by attorney Justin Sweet in his excellent book, Sweet on Construction Law:

“The notice informs the owner of what is going on and it gives him the opportunity of trying to repair whatever problem is developing – a sort of early warning system. If warned, steps can be taken to minimize the harm caused.”

Notice can be given in many ways. Mr. Sweet even suggests that a telephone call would be sufficient as long as it is followed up with written confirmation. When this book was first published in 1997 email correspondence was pretty rare, but certainly it is much easier to send written confirmation these days. And presumably, not signing a waiver would be a way of giving notice that something was amiss.

Meanwhile, my firm had to evaluate the electrical contractor’s claim in case the judge allowed the claim to proceed. I even went to Atlantic City to meet with Trump’s representatives to discuss my preliminary findings. The meeting was rather uneventful and Mr. Trump was not in attendance; the stakes were not particularly high, only a few hundred thousand dollars.

Most construction disputes are not black and white, and the electrical contractor potentially had some valid claims for additional compensation – ignoring the waivers and proper notice. During a preliminary hearing with the judge the electrical contractor was asked to explain his actions. His response? He had heard from a contractor on another Trump project that if he did not sign the waivers then his progress payments would be withheld.

Now, it is understandable that no one likes the idea of not getting paid because they have the audacity to ask for more. The disputed amount might be very minor compared to what is otherwise owned. A waiver can be a pretty effective way of making a contractor forget about petty claims. On the other hand, the owner deserves to be protected from false or fraudulent claims that are submitted after the fact.

The judge ultimately rejected the electrical contractor’s claim because he could not prove that signing the waivers would have held up progress payments. Whether it might have happened to someone else was irrelevant. Giving timely notice of a claim was probably not as important as denying that a claim even existed.

Mr. Sweet has an interesting perspective regarding notice provisions on smaller projects, arguing that:

“They are still essential administrative provisions; but if we couple them with the wealth of notice provisions, we can see that administering ‘by the book’ is a wonderful but very costly way of operating. I have often advised contractors on smaller projects – say, under $500,000 – that they should ignore the notice system, such as created by the AIA, at least to the extent of giving every required notice in the required way.”

He still advocates giving “early warning” of a potential claim by some means. However, the distinction Mr. Sweet makes is that “if it is clear that the owner was not prejudiced by a failure to give the required notice in the required way at the required time to the required person, the contractor should still be able to press the claim.”

Here is final, compelling, thought by Mr. Sweet:

“A notice can show that a claim is a genuine one, not an afterthought claim. An often dispiriting ‘end of the job’ phenomenon is the assertion of many claims for time and money. This is part of construction legends.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Delay Analysis

Categories: Construction Claims, Time Extension
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Any contractor confronted with unexpected delays to a project can be excused for feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of methodologies for proving delays. Some of these methodologies have similar names, or the same methodology may be called by different names. Indecision often leads to a delay in submitting a proper delay claim. Imagine that: the delay claim itself is delayed.

The good news is that the best delay analysis is rather easy to identify and implement. Let us start by eliminating any delay analysis that is not timely. As-Built vs. As-Planned? No. Collapsed As-Built? No. Neither of these analyses can be performed until the project is over. When it comes to time extensions, instant gratification should be our goal.

The impediment to negotiating time extensions in a timely fashion are twofold:

  1. Time extension requests submitted by the contractor that lack any methodology or supporting documentation
  2. Owners who fail to specify a particular methodology or required supporting documentation

As it might be surmised, the two problems are intertwined. The contractor provides almost no proof of a delay claim other than a request for a particular number of days. The owner is unhappy with this approach yet invites it by not putting anything in the contract that would explain the proper procedure for obtaining more time.

Many years ago a firm I worked for tried very hard to make a distinction between “disputes” and “claims”, believing the latter term is controversial. I suppose the idea of promoting or encouraging claims might seem a little like ambulance chasing. My employer preferred to be the firm that helped its clients settle disputes, not drag them out in arbitration or the courts.

But are disputes different from claims? I think so. Disputes happen during the project. Claims follow the project. Disputes are normal. Claims are (thankfully) not. It’s a matter of timing. We are trying to put out the fire, not figure out why the building burned to the ground.


The best delay analysis is therefore forward-looking. This should be rather obvious. Owners expect contractors to price additional work before it is performed so why should they make an exception for additional time? Before answering “I tried that and it didn’t work” go back to item one on my list.


Contractors need to submit time extension requests quickly so that time extensions can be obtained within a reasonable period of time. What is reasonable? I would say no more than two months after the delay occurred. If the parties have not agreed on a time extension within that period of time it is far more likely that attorneys will be involved at some point.

Trust me when I say that most delay analyses submitted by contractors are woefully inadequate even by the rather vague standards of most owners. Just filling out a certain number of days in that spot on AIA Form G701 is decidedly not a delay analysis unless there is something else attached.

Having worked on more than a thousand delay analyses over the years I am certainly aware that there are exceptions to the rules. Some owners are adamant about not giving any time no matter how much supporting documentation is provided. Facts are replaced by opinions. You would almost think it would kill that person to grant one measly additional day of time.

It might seem easier just to “sort things out” at the end of the project, but the biggest time extension I have negotiated in my career was during the project, not after. Nobody even considered calling an attorney. Yet on this project that supposed to take 400 calendar days we were able to obtain 570 calendar days in time extensions for a series of unanticipated events.

To be fair, this particular project was delayed so much that the owner awarded work to my client that was otherwise planned for the next phase. Nevertheless, the time extension discussions were quite amicable. Our baseline schedule showed a well-defined sequence of work among 18 transit stations. The owner was unable to grant access to these stations in the order we had requested and there very little the contractor could do to mitigate the situation.

Getting back to the forward-looking analysis, I will admit that I am not giving it a name that most people might recognize yet. Perhaps “Time Impact Analysis” sounds more familiar. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been using that term since the 1970s so most of us started with this type of analysis in mind. The USACE created one of the first guides for analyzing construction delays and it is still relevant today.

I still prefer to call it a forward-looking analysis because it is more descriptive than “Time Impact Analysis”. Ignoring the nomenclature, let’s consider the advantages of this method:

  • The remaining logic in the schedule does not need to be validated. In a forensic (after the fact) analysis the owner can challenge every assumption in the original logic with the benefit of hindsight. Validating the actual sequence of events can be quite time-consuming, which is to say, expensive.
  • The owner’s defacto “concurrent delay” defense is easier to diffuse with a forward-looking analysis because the only possible concurrent delays are the ones happening right now. In a forensic analysis the owner will point to every activity that did not start or finish according to plan and claim a concurrent delay.

The concurrent delay defense is so difficult to break that I will tell a contractor that a time extension request will cost “X” dollars but if the contractor wants time and money it will cost “3X”. I will be reviewing every daily report, meeting minute, RFI, etc. to explain events that have nothing to do with the issue I feel is causing the biggest delay.

In a forward-looking analysis the current status of the project is irrefutable. The update has been prepared, reviewed and accepted. In an arbitration hearing several years ago the owner claimed he never bothered reviewing the monthly updates and therefore the story they told had no significance. The arbitration panel – which included two former employees of the owner – found that argument to be ridiculous.

A forward-looking analysis is also the easiest to perform, with one caveat. Each delay to the project needs to analyzed quickly and in chronological order. “Quickly” can be defined as not waiting until the next schedule update has been submitted to go back and analyze delays during the current period. There is the risk that the contractor will start changing durations or logic in the next schedule update that contradicts the delay that would otherwise be demonstrated in the previous update.

Also, the owner will be thoroughly confused by time extension requests that stack up or are submitted in no particular order. How is the owner supposed to interpret multiple time extension requests? Are the delays cumulative or do some of them overlap? The contractor must explain this or risk having the owner put off making a decision because the contractor has provided no guidance whatsoever.

Delays fall into two basic categories:

  1. Some unexpected event prevents contract work from starting
  2. Some unexpected event prevents contract work from finishing

The unexpected event might be additional work, waiting for an answer as to how to proceed, or unusually severe weather. In any case, the process is the same: develop a delay “fragnet” to represent the unexpected event and insert this fragnet into the schedule update that immediately precedes the start of the unexpected event. There may be several unexpected events that occur during the same period. Each will need a fragnet. An example of a delay fragnet appears below:

Construction Science, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

Not exactly calculus, right? Granted, sometimes we have just the kernel of a delay presents itself during the current update period so we are not prepared to submit the analysis immediately. A question from the contractor generates a response from the owner. The response prompts the contractor to submit a change order request, which is then negotiated, and then the contractor has to order the materials for the additional work and, finally, perform the work. But we do not necessarily wait for the entire event to play itself out to estimate the impact.

When there are multiple delays during the same period it is crucial to explain to the owner how they interact. I prefer to insert all of the fragnets in the schedule update at the same time and then explain in a brief narrative which event is the biggest delay, the second-biggest delay, and so forth. The point is to make the owner aware that if the primary delay is rejected there are other, shorter, delays that must still be considered.

For a contractor, procrastination is a far bigger sin than a less-than-perfect delay analysis. When a contractor estimates the cost of work there are obvious assumptions that go into that estimate. Even if the estimated production rates are based on  extensive historical records, the reality is the contractor only has a chance of achieving those exact rates. We therefore should not get too hung up on the perfect delay analysis. The only perfect delay analysis is the as-built schedule and we are not waiting that long!

It takes a serious commitment to stay on top of the project schedule and analyze each unexpected event, and very few construction companies have full-time schedulers. But one rogue project can wipe out all the profits earned by all the other projects combined. For some construction companies, their first claim was also their last, as they are no longer in business.

Even in my 20s I would tell contractors that not knowing the expected end date of the project can lead to unintended consequences. The owner demands a “recovery schedule” because the contractor is behind schedule and has not proven that any of the delays are excusable. So now the contractor is accelerating the remaining work. Or the contractor revises logic on the remaining tasks to hide the delay from the owner, which makes it hard to justify the delay after the fact.

When the contractor knows the project end date is being extended it becomes much easier to plan the remaining work. Even if the time extension is denied, at least the contractor has an understanding of how to proceed. Sometimes it is more expensive to accelerate the project as opposed to paying the liquidated damages. Pride and other considerations may not allow that scenario to happen, but still, we are in a better position to make that decision once the time extension requests have been acted upon.

 

Primavera Software and Windows 10

Categories: P6 EPPM, P6 Professional, P6 Web, Primavera Contractor
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Windows 10 LogoIf you are considering an upgrade to Windows 10 there are certain things you must know. First of all, Oracle has no plans to certify any release of Primavera P6 older than R8.2 to work with Windows 10. Oracle plans to issue Service Packs for several releases in September of 2015 to ensure compatibility, but if you have purchased Release 15.1 after August 2015 everything should be fine. And while Oracle will not certify Releases 7.0 through 8.1 as being compatible with Windows 10, they have not found any issues as long as the latest Service Pack is being used.

Windows 10 also includes a new browser called Edge. This does cause a problem for users of Primavera P6 EPPM so it is advised that you continue using Microsoft Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox Mozilla for P6 Web. Further details are provided below.

Here is what we currently know about the compatibility of Primavera P6 EPPM, Primavera P6 Professional, and Primavera Contractor. Please note that certification dates are subject to change.


Primavera P6 EPPM

The follow release versions will be certified with Windows 10:

  • Windows 10 Operating System:
    • 15.2.0.0: Will be certified with the initial release (~Fall 2015).
    • 15.1.5.0: Certified August 2015.
    • 8.4.7.0:  Certified August 2015.
    • 8.3.10.0: Certification expected by the end of September 2015.
    • 8.2.7.0: Certification expected by the end of September 2015.
    • 8.1.x-7.0.x:  No plans to certify for Windows 10; installation is done at your own risk.  However, basic testing has shown no issues with these release versions running on Windows 10.
  • Browser Compatibility:
    • Microsoft Edge Browser
      • Microsoft Edge browser for Windows 10 will not support Java applets plugins.
      • Certification will be limited to Team Member (web) only. See above for certification timeframes.
    • Other Browsers
      • Certification with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome running on Windows 10 will be provided for all web applications of P6 EPPM. See above for certification timeframes.

Primavera P6 PPM

The follow release versions will be certified with Windows 10:

  • Windows 10 Operating System
    • 15.2.0.0: Will be certified with the initial release (Fall 2015).
    • 15.1.5.0: Certified August 2015.
    • 8.4.7.0: Certified August 2015.
    • 8.3.10.0: Will be certified by the end of September 2015.
    • 8.2.7.0: Will be certified by the end of September 2015.
    • 8.1.x-7.0.x:  No plans to certify for Windows 10; installation is done at your own risk.  However, basic testing has shown no issues with these release versions running on Windows 10.
  • Browser Compatibility
    • N/A

Primavera Contractor

The follow release versions will be certified with Windows 10:

  • Windows 10 Operating System
    • 6.1.0.0: Certification expected by the end of 2015.
  • Browser Compatibility
    • N/A

The Consummate General Contractor

Categories: Uncategorized
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Don PepoonSeveral years ago I referred to my father as the consummate general contractor in a submission to Engineering News-Record. When he saw the article he initially thought I was making fun of him until my mother – the English Major – explained to him what “consummate” means. In case you are like my dad, it means “being of the highest or most extreme degree”.

Dad started his career in the early 1950s as a civil engineer working for Black & Veatch in Kansas City, MO. Today, Black & Veatch has over 8,000 employees but in those days the firm was small enough to know everyone working there. A few years later he moved to Paola, Kansas to work for a building contractor but quickly realized his employer was not exactly the most knowledgeable contractor, even in southeast Kansas!

But two gentlemen who owned a civil construction company in Paola were impressed enough with my father to help him launch a new building construction firm. They called the firm Triangle Builders because there were three partners but my dad was solely responsible for running the company on a day-to-day basis. In the 1970s he bought out his partners with plans to pass on his company to his three sons.

There are a lot of reasons why my dad deserves such high praise as a general contractor but the best story starts in Fort Scott, KS. In 1965 the National Park Service provided funding to the City of Fort Scott to rebuild its historic frontier fort. This fort was originally constructed around 1850 when Kansas was still a territory of the United States. In the late 1960s my dad submitted a bid for the first building to be reconstructed.

My father was a very precise estimator who left nothing to chance. If he recognized a risk he would figure out a way to quantify (i.e. price) the risk in his bid. And historic Fort Scott presented a lot of risks. Dad had never rebuilt anything historic before. The stone used in the construction had to be sourced locally and any exposed construction had to use the type of joinery available in the mid 1850s. Triangle Builders had built larger projects but perhaps nothing as complex as this reconstruction.

When the bids were opened Triangle Builders was the low bidder by a significant margin. The City of Fort Scott was so concerned about the bid disparity that they made an unprecedented offer: Triangle Builders could withdraw its bid with no ramifications. As many of you know, contractors typically must submit a 10% bid bond with their bids to guarantee they will not try to withdraw their bids. And this project likewise required a bid bond.

My dad went back and checked his estimate again to make sure there were no mistakes. Satisfied that his bid was solid, he signed a contract with the City of Fort Scott. Triangle Builders had an excellent superintendent on the project and my dad monitored the project closely from his end. When the project was over my dad realized he had made more profit than expected.

This is where the story should end. Triangle Builders took a risk by signing a contract that even the project’s owner thought was ill-advised. Certainly the City of Fort Scott would not have known how much profit my dad made on the project, and had Triangle Builders lost money on the project well, too bad. But here is what my dad did: he mailed a check to the City of Fort Scott for what he thought was the excess profit on the project.

When I was a kid I sometimes received used presents on Christmas because my parents had everything wrapped up in their construction company and the early years were a struggle. And here my dad is giving back money to the City of Fort Scott that rightfully belonged to him. But that was not the point and my dad felt better doing what he considered to be the right thing. I have been involved in the construction industry for 31 years and have never heard of any contractor voluntarily sharing profits with the owner.

Dad died on March 8, 2015. I told this story about him at the funeral. I was really struggling with my emotions that day but when I got to the part about my dad sending a check to the City of Fort Scott, everyone started laughing. Classic Don Pepoon! I felt much better after that but he will always be missed. We need more people like him in this world.

 

 

Oracle recently issued upgrades to Primavera P6 Professional and P6 EPPM, Release 8.4 (R8.4). If you have purchased annual support from Oracle, you may be eligible for this upgrade; contact Oracle with your CSI number to obtain additional information. Anyone with an active support agreement can download this upgrade for free.

Upgrade Highlights (P6 Professional)

  • Visualizer Enhancements
  • Copy Bar Settings
  • Include Legend in Header or Footer
  • Manage Multiple Layouts Simultaneously
  • Display Shifts on a Gantt Chart or TLD
  • Manage Baselines as Job Services
  • Integration with Primavera Unifier
  • Integration with Primavera Prime
  • Import XML as a Job Service
  • Simplified Standalone Installation with SQLite Database

Upgrade Highlights (P6 EPPM)

  • Visualizer Enhancements
  • Update Baselines
  • Add New Column in Highlighted Position
  • Submit Timesheets via Team Member
  • Additional Search Criteria for Assigning Resources
  • View Project Users
  • Integration with Primavera Unifier
  • Integration with Primavera Prime

Should You Upgrade?

Is the upgrade worth installing? Perhaps more importantly, is it worth buying if you don’t have support? It depends. If you are currently using anything older than Release 8.0 we believe the enhancements are quite significant. And for P6 Professional users, the new standalone installation is much easier. Many users have struggled in the past to get the Oracle XE database properly installed and configured. But if you have already managed to install Oracle XE it is hard to justify switching to SQLite.

Anyone looking to purchase a new license of Primavera P6 should buy Release 8.4 as there is no price difference. Click here to see our pricing for Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM. And please note that while some companies advertise lower prices, these prices do not include Oracle’s mandatory support agreement for the first year. Our prices include the perpetual license plus Oracle Support. This support agreement also provides free upgrades to new software releases. After the first year users can choose not to continue the support agreement.

Just to avoid any confusion, when someone buys Primavera P6 they own the software forever regardless of whether Oracle Support is maintained. This is why we refer to the license as being “perpetual”. Oracle Support is an annual agreement that must be renewed in order to receive software upgrades and technical support but does not affect ownership of Primavera P6.

Primavera P6 Professional R8.4 is much easier to install with the SQLite database. This means that Oracle Support is not as critical – especially for users with prior experience using Primavera P6. For this reason, we feel confident that users can purchase Primavera P6 Professional without Oracle Support, saving nearly $500 a year. Click here to see the lowest possible price for Primavera P6.

We will be posting a video on our Primavera P6 training website in the near future demonstrating some of the benefits of Release 8.4 for P6 Professional.

 

Most Primavera P6 users know how to share a layout with someone in a different database. But did you know that filters can also be shared? To recap, we select View → Open Layout → Export to transport a Primavera Layout File (PLF) from the database. The other user then selects View → Open Layout → Import to bring the layout file into their database. While there is no such export/import feature for filters, they can be attached to any layout and therefore transferred to another database.

The trick to exporting filters with layouts is to copy an existing filter as a Layout Filter. In the screenshot below I have selected the existing User Defined filter, “Activities with Steps”. To create a Layout Filter, select “Copy As Layout” from the right-hand side of the filters menu:

Export Filters with Layouts_Step 1

In the next screenshot we see the result of this operation. The “Activities with Steps” filter appears under a new group, “Layout Filters”. All filters copied to this group will be exported with any layout you choose to export. Because of this, you might want to keep the number of Layout Filters to a minimum, or delete those that should no longer be exported.

Export Filters with Layouts_Step 2

One other thing. The above layouts are project layouts. The Enterprise Project Structure (EPS) has its own set of layouts. When the other user receives the Primavera Layout File it is important that they open a project – any project – and import the layout in the Activities window. EPS layouts are not compatible with project layouts despite having the same PLF format. However, EPS filters can likewise be exported with EPS layouts.

 

 

 

Primavera P6 has been upgraded quite a few times over the years. This creates a small problem when trying to share files with users of older versions of P6 – and this would include P5/Contractor. Older Primavera programs cannot import newer Primavera files. As a certified Oracle trainer and Primavera P6 scheduler I find myself constantly dealing with this problem. Our company uses P6 Release 8.3, which is the most current version, but our clients use a wide variety of Primavera products.

The most obvious solution is to export Primavera P6 files in a format that older Primavera programs can read. For example, if I know that my client is using P6 R7.0 then it is a simple matter to export this file format, as seen below:

P6 Export Menu

As long as I export my file as Release 7.0 or older my client will be able to import the file (not visible is Release 5.0, which is the same thing as Primavera Contractor).

Since I work with many different firms, however, keeping track of what versions of Primavera P6 my clients are using is not so simple. Even within the same company not everyone uses the same version. With this in mind, I send them Release 8.3 files and show them a quick and easy way to make any P6 file readable by another version of Primavera P6 or Contractor. This method involves modifying the native P6 file (XER).

XER files can be opened with Microsoft Notepad, Word, or any other text editor. Below is an example of an XER file:

P6 XER File

See the number in the upper left-hand corner? That is the version of P6 that was exported. In this case the file was exported as Release 8.3 on November 25, 2013. Paying attention to the date can also be useful; any changes made to the original file after this date will not be included in the XER file.

To make this file readable by Release 7.0 a user just needs to backspace over the “8.3” and replace it with “7.0” or any other number that corresponds to older versions of P6. Save and close the file, and that’s it. The XER can now be imported into Release 7.0 without any loss of data or functionality.

We teach this little XER trick in our Primavera training classes and almost no one can believe that the only difference between all of the different releases of P6 is the number in the upper left-hand corner. Yet it works every time. Just be careful not to modify anything else in the XER file. Bad idea!

And in case you are wondering why this file format is called XER, there is actually a good explanation. A company called Eagle Ray created the first enterprise scheduling software. Primavera bought this company and rebadged the product as P3e. Several years later, Oracle bought Primavera. The file format stands for “eXport Eagle Ray”. Now you know.

 

Primavera P6 is going to the moon, or Mars, or perhaps some distant asteroid. NASA uses Primavera P6 for all of its space programs and we were fortunate enough to be invited to train NASA contractors at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this month. We spent nearly two weeks training people how to use the latest versions of Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM). December in Florida is not a bad gig! The situation at NASA is certainly different these days. The Space Shuttle program defined NASA for the better part of three decades. With the cancellation of the Shuttle program in 2010, NASA will not have a comparable space program until the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is ready for its maiden voyage in 2017. The Orion capsule will be carried by the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS is designed to be flexible, with both crew and payload-only configuration, as seen below:

SLS_configurations

Orion will explore deep space, something that has not been done by any manned spacecraft since the Apollo days. Following my training sessions I visited the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to see a mock-up of the Orion capsule (below). My first impression was, “this thing is really big!”  And it is: the Orion capsule has 2-1/2 times the volume of the Apollo capsule and will carry four astronauts as opposed to Apollo’s three.

Orion Capsule

 

I also had a chance to visit the SLS Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) that one of our Primavera P6 training clients, J.P. Donovan Construction, is modifying for the SLS program. This platform was initially built for the Ares space program, which was cancelled around the same time as the Shuttle program, but NASA was instructed by Congress to finish the MLP regardless.

SLS Mobile Platform_01

 

The next photo shows the MLP from the vantage point of the VAB: Because the SLS rockets are much larger, the platform is currently being modified to handle the additional size and weight. One of the first tasks for J.P. Donovan was to offload two enormous boxes from the MLP. This required bringing in a 250 ton crane, which was just being dismantled during my visit. Both the crane and the boxes appear below:

SLS Mobile Platform_Crane 2SLS Mobile Platform_Boxes

 

The electrical, plumbing and other systems inside the MLP are similar to what you might expect to find in a multi-story building. But then, this structure is more than 30 stories tall and weighs several million pounds! The red piping is the fire suppression system, which is used to reduce sound waves during a launch and to protect the steel superstructure from the intense heat.

SLS Mobile Platform_04

 

In this next photo you can see that workers are cutting apart the MLP in order to enlarge the platform. The SLS rockets require a wider flame pit, so the platform is being cut in two in order to graft on a wider section.

SLS Mobile Platform_02

 

The last photo shows what the completed MLP will look like with the SLS vehicle attached. Note the water tower nearby. This tower provides more than a million gallons of water to the fire suppression system. All of the water in that tower will be released in less than 8 minutes (!) during a launch.

SLS Mobile Platform_06

What a great experience! I am really looking forward to Orion’s first voyage in 2017. Happy Holidays to all of you!

 

PayPal Buttons Fixed!

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We were notified by a client today (December 17th) that our PayPal buttons were not functioning correctly. The problem is that a certain person at our company who shall remain nameless (ahem…) was trying to remove some of the blank spaces on the Primavera software pages and accidentally deleted part of the PayPal code. As a result, some of the buttons were not connected to the PayPal shopping cart. This problem also occurred at our training website, Primavera Scheduling.

If you tried to place an order during the past few days and had problems please accept our sincere apologies. We hope you will give us another chance to earn your business. And since money sometimes speaks louder than words, we will refund $50 on every software purchase for the rest of 2013. It doesn’t matter if you had tried to place an order or not! And we really don’t care if you have been naughty or nice. Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you!