What Is Value Engineering?
With water infrastructure needs expected to reach $300 billion over the next twenty years, it is vital that facility owners maximize the value of infrastructure projects and reduce costs where possible. Value Engineering is the industry standard for reducing capital costs, which promises to maintain or improve performance of assets while reducing costs using a function-based assessment of engineering designs. Value Engineering is often required for large scale projects using government grants or loans, to keep costs down and prevent waste.
However, Value Engineering has a bad reputation among treatment plant operators, and for good reason. It is most effective when it is brought in early in the process, leaving sufficient time for process interviews and full functional assessment. Value Engineering design recommendations that might negatively impact operations and maintenance can then be caught before designs are finalized. In practice, it is often employed toward the end of the design process with the goal to bring bloated projects within budget. Process interviews and function analysis get truncated when this happens, and operations and maintenance staff do not have enough input to prevent poor design changes from getting through. When used properly, Value Engineering is a valuable tool. When used simply to cut capital costs, it can cause increased Operations and Maintenance (O&M) costs, increased safety hazards, and decreased performance.