Front End Loading (FEL) or Front-End Engineering Design (FEED)

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Mike Murray
Management Consultant, South Africa

Front End Loading (FEL) or Front-End Engineering Design (FEED)

Front End Loading (FEL) is a pre-project planning process typical for processing industries such as upstream, petrochemical, refining and pharmaceutical companies by which an organisation develops a detailed definition of a capital project to meet business objectives. It is the detailed up-front "loading" work whereby the definition, scope and feasibility of the project is thoroughly assessed in terms of scope, cost, risk and other factors to minimize the impact and escalation of these factors during the detailed design, procurement and construction of the project.
This involves developing sufficient strategic information with which owners can address risk and make decisions to commit resources in order to maximize the potential for success.

Front-end loading includes robust planning and design early in a project's lifecycle (i.e., the front end of a project), at a time when the ability to influence changes in design is relatively high and the cost to make those changes is relatively low. It typically applies to industries with highly capital intensive, long lifecycle projects (i.e., hundreds of millions or billions of dollars over several years before any revenue is produced). Though it often adds a small amount of time and cost to the early portion of a project, these costs are minor compared to the alternative of the costs and effort required to make changes at a later stage in the project.

The successful outcome of capital project delivery is heavily reliant on the pre-planning work to minimise risks and costs during detailed design and construction.
Included during this front end loading are other best practices such as contracting strategies, value improvement practices, constructability, planning for start-up and other.

This special form of feasability study is also called Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) or Pre-Project Planning (PPP).

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