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On the Silk Road – Practical tips for working with Chinese builders abroad

Drawing on a long experience in the Chinese market, Siveco has developed a specific service offering for overseas infrastructure owners and EPC companies to achieve a smooth handover of plant documentation from construction to maintenance in immediately usable format in a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System).


Banjarsari Mine-Mouth Coal-Fired Steam Power Plant (Indonesia)


This approach, which we call “turnkey CMMS”, helps overcome some of the challenges met with Chinese EPC companies, whose construction practices often leads to poor as-built documentation and under-preparation for maintenance.


Here are some of the typical misunderstandings arising between foreign owners and Chinese EPC in construction projects:


Different interpretation of the concept of as-built documentation (best described as “onsite verified”) and how to realize it in practice in a Chinese project, where design changes are often decided onsite.


Chinese suppliers’ habit to budget for cheap solutions or to simply ignore items they do not fully understand (such as O&M documentation or CMMS) and to try to renegotiate later.


Difficulties to address differences that exist not only at EPC level but also affect the entire supply chain of Chinese construction (design institutes, equipment suppliers, subcontractors).


For example, spare parts may be difficult to obtain after the warranty period, as the foreign owner may lack privileged access to suppliers in China (lack of spare parts standardization is commonly cited as a problem).


Another example is the CMMS, as Chinese IT practices differ from foreign ones: Chinese concept of “MIS” and “OA” systems used in domestic projects vs. CMMS and ERP abroad (wide vs. deep functionality, admin vs business-focus).


Tendency to delegate the CMMS itself, perceived as just a piece of software, to less sophisticated IT or electrical contractors, with limited foreign experience and poor foreign communication skills.


The lower you go in the chain of subcontractors, the more difficult: less sophisticated players, remote from the owner’s needs, with less money available.


As a result, compromises will inevitably have to be made when dealing with Chinese EPC companies. Similarly the Chinese EPC must learn to deal with foreign clients demands. Siveco’s experience shows that the CMMS project offers a good opportunity to tackle some of the key misunderstandings and to make the right compromises, thanks to Siveco’s long term experience of similar projects in China and abroad.


For foreign infrastructure owners, Siveco can act as “owner’s engineer” for maintenance preparation (we do not involve in other aspects of the project). The CMMS will be used to drive best documentation and maintenance preparation practices throughout the project until final hand-over. Siveco China and partners have experience assisting infrastructure and plant owners all over the world.


Conversely, Siveco can assist Chinese EPCs working on foreign contracts from the tendering stage to final delivery, helping the EPC improve its competitiveness and ensuring the CMMS is delivered as per owner’s expectation, with fully prepared maintenance database.


Our experience has also proven relevant to help foreign-invested projects in China and non-Chinese international EPCs working on overseas projects.


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