Project Management Institute

Heavy metal

Building a large manufacturing facility in a small town that values its tourist culture and its natural setting could easily become a project fiercely contested by the local community. But when Alcan's Primary Metals Group sought to upgrade its aluminum plant in the 40,000-resident village of Alma, Quebec (Canada), it hired Quebec-based engineering firm BRP-Bechtel, the company who built Alcan's existing Alma-based plant and who knew the demands and concerns of working in this environment. This article discusses Alcan's project, an endeavor that was completed five months early and CN$13 million under budget, an endeavor that was selected as a finalist for the PMI 2006 Project of the Year Award. In doing so, it overviews the project's purpose and scope and identifies the key challenges that BPR-Bechtel faced in meeting Alcan's project schedule as well as in managing the project's numerous contractors and in adhering to various government-regulated environmental health and safety policies. It also describes the key factors that enabled Alcan to successfully realize this project, factors that included involving the entire project team in all planning and decision-making phases and adopting a tactic known as freezing the scope.
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