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Vendor Data – An Alternate Approach


T.E. Wolf, Sugar LandTexas


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Successful detail design phase engineering is dependent on a myriad decisions, details, activities, and coordination among Client and Engineer personnel.  The critical path through detail engineering phase generally will pass thru scope definition and process design, to equipment specification and purchase, then to detail layout, and most critically piping design.  Once the equipment is on order, getting certified vendor data becomes a vitally important activity to support detailed piping design.  Expediting vendors is the most common approach used by companies.  For extremely critical pieces of equipment, offering the supplier cash incentives for expedited delivery of data is fairly common.


An alternate method has been identified and utilized on a number of projects which has proved successful and worth passing on to others for consideration and use.


Certified Vendor Data


Typically Clients, Engineers, Document Control personnel, and Project Managers tend to think of vendor data as an all inclusive collection of drawings and documents, submitted by suppliers as being Certified.  ‘Certified’ meaning the information presented can be relied upon as being an exact representation of the equipment being supplied, which in turn can be used by the designers to prepare and complete detailed layout and design with minimal misfits in the field.


The definition of certified vendor data usually includes all data expected by the Client/Engineer and to be provided by the supplier and usually defined in the Request For Quotation package via a form or set of forms included in the package.  This definition form usually includes not only the description of the data to be provided, but the expected time to be provided, and the quantity required of the data.  These data include such things as:


    • Overall outline drawing: Plans and Sections
    • Calculations
    • Welding Procedures, Procedure Qualification Records, Weld Maps
    • Non-destructive testing procedures
    • QA/AC procedures
    • Detail drawings
    • Bills of material
    • Final assembly and/or erection drawings
    • Code reports
    • Charts, e.g. hydrostatic test, heat treatment
    • Mill Test Reports
    • Etc.

All of which are typical, normal, and to be expected to be provided by a typical supplier for a typical project.  All of which must be provided prior to the vendors purchase order being defined as complete and requiring final payment.


Certified Vendor Information versus Certified Vendor Data


The proposed alternate approach to vendor data does not change any of the above requirements, neither in definition, nor expectation.  The proposed alternate approach does draw the distinction between Certified Vendor Data and Certified Vendor Information.


The distinction is that the requirements for submittal of Certified Vendor Data do not change; however, Certified Vendor Information is a short list, subset of the Certified Vendor Data.


This technique is designed to get the truly needed information, critical to the detail design effort, in house as soon as possible.  And this short list is actually very short and once identified is usually and actually readily available by the supplier, most times as early as with the bid (with certain very important restrictions that must be honored by the Client, Engineer, and Supplier).


Certified Vendor Information Defined


The short list of certified information to be supplied with the bid include only:


1.  Nozzles - for all nozzles requiring attachment to piping (i.e., information on inspection openings, handholes, and the like, are not required now):


        • nozzle size and rating
        • nozzle projection, orientation, and elevation


2.  Base Plate -


        • base plate dimensions (or  base plate diameter)
        • anchor bolt size, number, and locations (or bolt circle)


3.  Weights -  Estimated weights for the following:


        • dead weight
        • operating weight
        • hydrotest weight


4.  Electrical - electrical cable entry locations (approximate location is acceptable).


5.  Extent of Supply - vendor to identify the extent of his supply.


Important Restrictions to be Honored


All parties, the Client, Engineer, and Supplier must make the commitment and stand by that commitment that if the Client and/or Engineer make a change that causes a to change the certified information, then Supplier will not be held responsible for the cost and schedule impact to the project.


Likewise the Supplier must make the commitment and stand by the commitment that the information provided is either not going to change due to standard supplier dimensions/data or the Supplier has made sufficient allowances for adjustments.


Trust is a key ingredient to success of this technique.


If an over zealous Client or Engineering company person becomes emboldened by success of this technique as to start to require additional Certified Vendor Data with the bid, then ultimately the Supplier will resist providing their commitment on future work, and the alternate approach will fail.


Method of Application


A very important part to ensure the success of this technique is a personal phone call to each vendor after they have received the RFQ.  The procurement manager and the project manager should personally make a call to the Supplier representative to give the necessary management emphasis due.  Said a different way, this approach cannot be expected to work by merely including words in an RFQ package, nor by delegating to junior personnel.  Management must demonstrate their commitment to the approach.


The purpose of the phone call is to:



  • have the vendor look at the requirement and explain how important the requirement is to the schedule and the Client. 
  • reiterate the information requested is a short list, that most of it is probably already available, and the intent is to get them to do a little extra during the bid process.
  • ensure the Supplier knows and agrees the information can be provided in any format (it need not be drafted), just as long as it is certified.
  • reassure the Supplier that if the Client/Engineer make a change that causes a change to the certified information, then Supplier will not be held responsible.
  • but, the intent is also that the Supplier truly certifies the requested information and NOT change it.
  • And lastly, that the Certified Vendor Data requirements as enumerated in the purchase order will not be affected in any way by this request, that is, all vendor data must be submitted as requested.


And one more thing needs consideration too.  Since each bidder will be sending in certified information with their bid, a separate vendor data log should be setup until the successful bidder is selected (so as not to encumber the regular vendor data files with unnecessary paper). 


This technique has been used successfully on several, large domestic and foreign project.  One project started out as a schedule driven project in which this technique was deemed the only possible approach to ensure meeting the aggressive schedule.  But the project was subsequently changed to a cashflow driven project before the first purchase order was issued.  Having initiated the certified vendor information at the beginning allowed detail design to start and continue without hesitation even though the first purchase order was not issued for six month.


Details of Method Application


Engineering personnel were questioned and identified the following short list of vendor information that is essential to support the 3D design model.  It then becomes Purchasing and Project Management to negotiate with the vendors supplying the pumps, air coolers, heaters, and control systems items for early receipt of this information. 


Ideally, this certified information should be issued with the bids.  However, this may not practical in all cases (e.g. air coolers and heaters), but each bidder is to not only be requested to provide this information, but this is to be a specific pre-bid discussion item. Where information cannot be provided with the bids, it is best to negotiate advance payments tied to receipt of this information and subsequent vendor drawings.


Summary Of Required Certified Vendor Information



1.  DRAFTING - The information does not need to be drafted, the information can be a markup of a similar drawing.  If the plan is to draft the information and if there is the possibility that the schedule will not be met, then do not draft.  In other words, receipt of the certified information is more important than the presentation.  For this early receipt of needed certified information, the vendor will not be graded on presentation, only accuracy of the certified data.


2.  CERTIFIED INFORMATION - It is important that the vendor certify the information, that is, the information will not change, unless there is some major, unforeseen change.  The following is the short list of required certified information needed to support the engineering effort:


Nozzles - for all nozzles requiring attachment to piping (i.e., information on inspection openings, handholes, and the like, are not required now):


        • nozzle size and rating
        • nozzle projection, orientation, and elevation


Base Plate -


        • base plate dimensions (or  base plate diameter)
        • anchor bolt size, number, and locations (or bolt circle)


Weights -  Estimated weights for the following:


        • dead weight
        • operating weight
        • hydrotest weight


Electrical - electrical cable entry locations (approximate location is acceptable).


Extent of Supply - vendor to identify the extent of his supply.


3.  OTHER INFORMATION - Obviously, any other information the vendor can certify would be most helpful.  However, the above is the only information we are looking for at this time.


4.  FINAL CERTIFIED DATA  - Typical drawing submittals and issuance of final certified drawings are not affected by this special, early requirement.

This website’s goal is to provide a source for project management support, information, education, and training material for project managers and project engineers primarily in the refinery, petroleum, and petrochemical industries.  In the execution of these projects, the project manager or project engineer may find the need for additional information and support; most times this support will come from within his or her company.  But there are times additional sources are needed.  This website is intended to meet those additional needs.


Project success is a function of the people skills and a broad understanding of diverse subject matter of the project management team.  Scope definition, execution considerations, construction strategy, planning and schedule impact, resource utilization, overcoming difficulties and problem solving, etc, etc, etc, are just a few to enumerate even without addressing the technical side.  Then there is the cost, estimating, and estimate side, factor estimates, detail estimates, forced detail estimates, basis of estimate, construction wage rates, and so on.  Then there is the technical side, material issues, piping systems, equipment considerations, civil and structural, electrical and control systems, document control, specifications, standards, and regulations.  Then there’s the variety of processes both refining (hydrocrackers, delayed cokers, etc.) and petrochemical facilities, the list is almost endless.


Project management is as much art as science.  The key is to continue to learn and never stop learning.

Tom Wolf has over 40 years petroleum and petrochemical experience, including 25 years in project management.  He holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering.

© 2013 by Thomas E. Wolf.  All rights reserved.  No part of the information contained in these webpages may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without written permission of the copyright holder, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.