Fort Hills Refinery

Information Project

Fort Hills Petrochemical Project in Alberta, Canada.
Fort Hills project is petrochemical construction project which aims to build an oil refinery in order to mine and process oil sands in a mine located in Alberta, Canada. The project has been sanctioned in 2013 and is expected to extract first oil in fourth quarter of 2017. The construction of this project is performed by employing modular construction method. The modules are mostly built in a module yard outside the construction site and then transferred to the site. Moreover, some of the modules are built in foreign countries and transferred to Canada through seaways.
Due to the existing complexity in fabrication, transformation and installation of modules and multiplicity of various factors that affect these processes, the required precision in planning process is essential. To do so, the collaboration between Tecnosa R&D center and PCL Company was formed to improve the planning and scheduling of module installation processes. The main services coming from Tecnosa R&D center in this project can be categorized in the following items:
1) Developing accurate executive plans related to modules installation.
2) Optimizing the pick and set locations of cranes.
3) Developing the optimum movement path of cranes in construction site.
4) Creating virtual reality models to simulate the cranes operation.

Optimization of Cranes Plan

Mobile cranes are frequently used in heavy industrialized projects such as petrochemical construction projects. The costs related to these cranes are extremely high and makes the planning and scheduling of these projects a critical factor. Such projects need a detailed plan that considers various effected constraints on project completion. A well-defined plan and schedule can reduce both total project duration and cost to be optimized.
In this part of Tecnosa R&D center collaboration with PCL company, an automated system is proposed that presents a detailed executive plan for project implementation. Such system develops detailed plans related to each project crane, their executive activities and the relevant cost and time automatically. This process determines that each lift operation of each module should be implemented in which time, with which crane and under which condition. It also specifies any specific side activity that is required for the completion of each lift process.
The proposed system is also capable of presenting an optimized schedule to the user according to the total time and cost. Moreover, this schedule considers various situations and time calendars to develop different possible optimized plans for each lift process. In this manner, the developed plans reduce the overall cost of the project compared to the prepared schedule, which is provided by common scheduling methods.

Site Layout Planning

One of the most impressive planning processes that affect the quality and accuracy of the industrialized projects, which are implemented by mobile cranes, is determining the accurate location of each crane in each lift operation. The mobile cranes should be able to implement their relevant lifts without any collision with other cranes or the existing obstacles in construction site. In large congested construction sites, the amount of displacements is extremely high and causes various complexities. Moreover, in this type of projects implementing some activities such as placing and removing mats under the cranes will create noticeable time and cost. Hence, number of movements and the distances to which each crane travels should be planned in a way that be the minimum feasible amount.
To do so, Tecnosa R&D center collaborates with PCL Company to propose a comprehensive system for optimizing the locations of cranes and their movement path in project site. The outputs of the system include but is not limited to the following items:
1) Determining the sequence of setting the modules in their pre-determined locations.
2) Automatic specifying of optimum cranes location for each lift operation.
3) Determining the best possible configuration for each crane, which is applicable for each lift operation according to the crane specifications and each lifted module properties.
4) Determining the best collision-free path for each crane.
5) Optimizing the crane movement path for finding the shortest path with no collision.


Virtual Reality

The crane operations in congested industrialized sites is a highly complex process and requires an accurate management. In this manner, applying novel construction management tools and technologies such as virtual reality (VR) is an inevitable work for facilitating the management of these processes. By applying this technology every participant of the project can experience each lift operation in detail and investigate it constructability. Moreover, VR models provide this opportunity for different participant persons in the project such as crane operator to learn how to implement their related activity in a perfect way. In this way, many unfortunate incidents that would have happened without an appropriate learning process and their relevant cost will be prevented.
In this field, Tecnosa R&D center has defined its collaboration with PCL Company to develop a systematic approach for creating virtual reality model of each lift operation to achieve the following advantages in addition to previous mentioned applications:
1) Visualizing the process of each crane lift operation before the real implementation and enhancing the common understanding among project team members.
2) Investigating possible collisions between cranes or between cranes and obstacles, which is pertinent to each crane operation before execution to not only eliminate executive issues but also, reduce re-works cost.
3) Increasing the safety of construction operations by training participant project team members using VR models and eliminating potential misfortunes in construction site.
4) Reducing project risks and their related cost using visualization.
5) Enhancing the quality of each crane operation by improving its safety and reducing its cost, time and probable risk.

Path Planning

Modules’ picking point determination and mobile crane’s motion and path planning whether it includes walking or not, is one of the sub-planning in cranes’ operation planning. Regarding the extensive congested construction sites of these kinds of projects, the planning process is prone to error, time-consuming and costly. Hence, this heavy equipment needs accurate and detailed planning which is entitled “Mobile Crane Path planning”. The crane’s operational motions include lifting and walking.
The research objective is developing an automated algorithm to find the shortest path between picking and setting point of a lifted module. Crane will need to walk if the planned picking and the setting point are two separate points. Moreover, cutting edge technologies such as Virtual Reality(VR) are employed in order to have a decision-making support tool and training tool as well.


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