Capital Project Team Members

In my experience, this step is nearly always skipped in the process of managing a capital project.  However, the most successful project managers clearly define expectations of each project team member.  It is worth defining the Project Team Members.  These are members of the project that have specific and defined responsibilities/roles to help ensure project success.  This is the “get it done” crew.  Team members are appointed by the stakeholders of the project.  These folks are typically management and customers.  They report to the people that dole out the funding for capital projects.  It is important to keep them informed regarding project status.  They don’t typically like surprises.

Ideal capital project teams will consist of the following members:

  1. Project Manager – This person is responsible for keeping the project on track. They will interact with many people throughout the organization.  For example, they will request parts for debug from program management or purchasing.  They will coordinate with maintenance for support during design reviews or installation.  Project managers are accountable for the success of the project.  We listed the traits of the ideal project manager in another section of this book.  The project manager is the quarterback for the capital project.
  2. Quality Engineer – The quality engineer is responsible for establishing and communicating customer quality expectations. They will play a key role in verifying that the equipment or capital project is delivering product to the customer’s expectations.  As a project manager, you want a control plan from the quality engineer assigned to your project.  They are responsible for clearly communicating the customer success criteria.  Those criteria will be used when developing an equipment specification.  Tip: I would require the equipment supplier to perform an equipment FMEA.  You must participate in this process to ensure the knowledge is understood and applied.
  3. Maintenance Liaison – This person will be the eyes and ears for maintenance. They will be particularly interested in the following:
    • Approved and accessible components are used (i.e. PLC type, pneumatic valve type, cylinder type, laser, etc.).
    • Facility changes – What changes will need to be made to accommodate the new equipment? Tip: Create a separate project timeline for facility changes.  These changes are typically managed through the maintenance/facilities groups so you will want to work with them to develop the plan with timing needs or requirements.
    • Electrical approval – It is common practice for the maintenance group to be responsible for approval drawings sign off. This is typically limited to electrical sign off but does not have to be.
    • Best practices – The maintenance department general must deal with every process in the facility so they have extensive experience. It is smart to leverage that experience in an effort to avoid costly mistakes.  However, I would offer a word of caution.  This group tends to be risk averse, so new processes will not be will received at times.  Be prepared for push back on unproven technology and processes that are not standard.  Keeping this group on your side can go a long way to ensuring project success.
  4. Production Team Leader – This person will have operational responsibilities for the equipment once it is installed and in production. They will have oversight regarding the line level personnel operating the equipment.  They have keen interest in the following:
    • Equipment throughput – Production will have a shift quota each day to fill customer orders and meet product demand. The contributing factors to throughput are station cycle time, equipment uptime, part availability, part quality (pre-assembly), and post process quality (pass rate).  Keep in mind that the production team leader (supervisor) only has control over the operators running the processes.  The other factors on the list are out of their control.
    • Operator content – This is measured in hours per unit (HPU). The majority of the companies we work with are particularly interested in the HPU because it has a direct effect on profitability.  These programs are quoting based on component costs plus HPU, plus overhead and profit.  HPU is a variable that can be managed with automation or by utilizing motion studies for increased efficiency.  For example, if you have .10 hours per unit and get to .05 HPU, your labor costs are halved.  I realize this is a simple example, but it is important to emphasize the importance of monitoring operator content.
    • Logistics – How will the product get to and from the line? Will large containers need to break down to smaller quantities for station level content?  The component logistics can have a major impact on the efficiency of the system.  It is important to have a plan from the beginning for managing line side components required for the process.   The layout should have locations designated for material from the beginning.


To reiterate, if you are the internal project manager, your customer is production.  They have entrusted you to bring in a safe, robust, and efficient process.  It is important to engage them in the project, so they know what they are getting into.  If they don’t choose to engage, make certain to let your management know.  Don’t allow yourself to get thrown under the bus.


Other Important Team Members – These roles are not required at every meeting, but they will play a part in the success of the project.

  1. Packaging Engineer – The packaging engineer is responsible for working with suppliers and logistics (material management) to determine the configuration of the packaging. The transfer of this information, including drawing files is important for layout and material handling.
  2. Purchasing – Delay and trial run facts are absolutely critical for success of the project. The biggest issue I have experienced time and again is a lack of parts for debug and equipment qualification.  I call this stepping over the dollars to pick up the dimes.  Proper debug and runoff of the equipment saves hours upon hours of downtime, people time, customer dissatisfaction, etc.  Order the necessary parts to do it right.
  3. IT – It is important that IT be kept in the loop regarding new software and new hardware that will be connected to the network. Typically, IT will be responsible for managing the software and hardware after install.  In today’s manufacturing, traceability and connectivity are critical monitoring the process.  SQL is the most common data collection software.  Get the buy-in from IT up front (during the project scope development) to ensure the budget is appropriate and suppliers have clear guidelines for quoting and configuring.
  4. Supplier Quality Analyst (SQA) – This person is the company’s connection with the customer. The majority of the quality/end user communication is done through the SQA.  My experience has been that many in this role have limited line side experience.  As a result, they might communicate unrealistic or unachievable expectations that have been communicated by the customer.  This is not always the case but having an SQA that is willing to push back on the customer when necessary can help keep sanity.
  5. Quality Lab – If the process you are bringing into the facility requires new gages, it will be important to get them set up with the gage lab. This task is normally managed by the Quality Engineers.  The key is to have on your checklist to ensure it gets done.  If your facility is ISO or TS, it is a critical part of the procedural approval.
  6. Materials – This is specifically for managing spare parts. Having the appropriate spare parts is important when production begins, and down time must be minimized.  Work with the process supplier to ensure the list is provided as soon after final design approval as possible.

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