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Australian Robotics Inc.’s Project Management Case Study


Business Case

The case project was instigated by the development of a new artificial intelligence application that was very powerful in 2013. Even though most international manufacturing is carried out in India and China, there has been a need to rebuild high value-added manufacture in all countries with increased use of industrial robotics. With improved CSIRO technology, the case project hopes to create new robots that have the capacity of being re-programmed about verbal instructions that are based on various tasks. The objectives, key performance indicators and major, major deliverables and any major milestones of the project are highlighted below.

Project Objective

To develop and manufacture a new family of highly flexible, “intelligent” robots physically robust enough to handle heavy industry tasks but small enough to work alongside humans performing high precision, detailed technical assembly.

Key Performance Indicators (Measure of success)

The performance of this project will be assessed through the examination of whether or not the objectives of the project were met. As such, the measure of success will focus on ascertaining whether or not the project develops a new family of highly flexible, “intelligent” robots that can be used in handling heavy industry tasks.

Major Deliverables and Major Milestones

Major Deliverables

The major deliverables for this project include:

  • Expanding the new plant.
  • Production of an initial model of the Bionic Digger.
  • Design “intelligent” robots that are physically strong.
  • Launch a very small product that could work in the warehouses and loading docks.

Major Milestones

The major milestones for the project include:

  • Survey the mine site to confirm accessibility and potential risks- May 5
  • Install a central computer control overall operations of the robots on site- May 7
  • Provide an initial database to the robots showing the site layout- May 8
  • Conduct a trial run over two shifts under the supervision of the OHS sub-contractor and ARI to confirm safety and conduct benchmarks – May 10
  • Progressively roll-out the robots across the site through all shifts with the support of the technical sub-contractor – May 11-15
  • Collect operational performance data per robot and per shift- May 11-15
  • Analyze data to confirm technical feasibility – May 18
  • Review the OHS report with the sub-contractor to identify compliance and outstanding issues – May 19
  • Develop standard operating procedures to cover use with human workers and as a standalone device for use where humans could be at risk- May 20
  • Recommend and document any required changes to product or manufacturing- May 21
  • Phase 2: May 21-28: Setting the test production volumes, identifying suitable clients for test purposes, contract negotiations for the test period and obtaining product feedback from customers.

Stakeholder management

Effective management of any project is critical for the achievement of any set goals and objectives. Having a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of each of the key players in any given project is very important in the project’s scope management. As pointed out by Atkinson, Crawford and Ward (698), defining the role of the key stakeholders avoids duplicating work and is effective in the promotion of teamwork. For example, in the case, Australian Robotics Inc. (ARI), the stakeholders involved in the project include:

  1. The government
  2. Mega Bank
  3. Engineers and technicians: Provides and inspects the technical components of the project, ensures that the operations are within the required time limits and inspects the materials being used. This is through the management of the deliverables and checklist for the requirements and monitors the progress of the construction works and undertakes process evaluations.
  4. Project manager: The project manager is tasked with the coordination of the project processes, makes sure that there is a project charter and develops the work plan to be used in the execution of the project, liaises with the government to ensure that there are funds to buy the required materials and fund the services (Ponnappa 3). Secondly, the manager delegates work to the people in the various operations units and ensure that the documents required for the project are secured. Also, the project manager carries regular inspections to determine the progress of the project.
  5. Sub-contractors
  6. International manufacturers of conventional mining equipment
  7. Computer technical support.

Given the objectives of the project, of developing robots that can be used in the mining areas, the government will have a lot of concerns as far as the reduction of employment in the country is concerned. Besides, the international manufacturers of conventional mining equipment will also be concerned by the negative effect likely to be brought about by the development of the proposed project as far as the sale of mining equipment is concerned. For this reason, the government and the international manufacturers of conventional mining equipment may try to oppose the project.

Secondly, the Mega Bank Mega Bank is another key shareholder of ARI, which will have a significant impact on the success of the project. The bank will be concerned by the payback period of the project since the company is heavily geared to quick returns. However, to manage the concerns of each of the stakeholders, adequate knowledge about the activities and the requirements for each stakeholder will be provided to ensure that there is effective teamwork during the implementation of the project.

This will play a critical role in ensuring that the project runs as planned in its lifecycle (Fageha and Aibinu 6). The development of the project will be beneficial to the government as a source of revenue through taxes. Although the project might have some negative impact on the mining sector as far as employment is concerned, the project will also create employment for the designers and developers of the robots, as well as technical support staff in the mining sites. As such, the project will be beneficial to the government and the community; a factor that will help in reducing the resistance from various stakeholders to develop the project.

As far as the Mega Bank is concerned and its interests of a fast return on investment, the company will be provided with the necessary information such as projected cash flow to have clear information on the expected payback period of any invested cash.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The table below shows the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for this project. The entries are based on the major areas of work and deliverables or milestones.

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
  1. Bionic Digger (Robot Development Project)
1.1 Initiation 1.1.1 Developing project charter
1.1.2 Deliverable: submit the project charter
1.1.3 Review of the charter by sponsor
1.1.4 Charter approval
1.2 Planning 1.2.1 Creation of the scope statement
1.2.2 Selecting the project team
1.2.3 Submit design plan
1.2.4 Milestone: Design approval
1.3 Execution 1.3.1 Necessary kickoff meetings
1.3.2 Verification and validation of user requirements
1.3.3 System design
1.3.4 Deliverable: Design “intelligent” robots that are physically strong
1.3.4 Procurement of necessary resources
1.3.5 Feasibility study
1.3.6 Expanding the new plant
1.3.7 Deliverable: Production of the initial model of the Bionic Digger, Launch a very small product that could work in the warehouses and loading docks
1.4 Control 1.4.1 Project management
1.4.2 Overview meetings
1.4.3 Assess and management risks
1.4.4 Review project plan
1.5 Closeout 1.5.1 Phase 2:
1.5.2 Deliverables: Setting the test production volumes, identifying suitable clients for test purposes, contract negotiations for the test period and obtaining product feedback from customers.

Project Schedule

The table below lists the major areas of work from the project’s WBS and offers a description of the methods to be used to obtain time and effort estimates for each area of work, as well as the person who would be responsible for providing that information or estimate.

Level Code Task Description
1 Bionic Digger Plans to design and develop a robot project
1.1 Initiation The work will begin towards the development of the Bionic Digger
1.1.1 Developing project charter The project manager for the Bionic Digger will come up with the project charter
3. 1.1.2 Deliverable: submit the project charter After the charter is developed, the project manager will submit it to the sponsor of the project
3. 1.1.3 Review of the charter by sponsor Upon receipt of the charter, the project sponsor will review it to ascertain whether or not it meets the end-user requirements
3. 1.1.4 Charter approval The sponsor will approve the charter to move in the next stage of planning
2 1.2 Project Planning The process of planning the implementation of the project begins
3 1.2.1 Creation of the scope statement A preliminary scope statement of the project will be created
3. 1.2.2 Selecting the project team The project manager will select the right team for the implementation of the project, as well as request for the necessary resources.
3 1.2.3 1.2.3 Submit design plan The design of the project will be submitted by the project manager for approval.
3 1.24 Milestone: Design approval The design is approved for implementation
2 1.3 Execution Implementation of the project will begin
3 1.3.1 Necessary kickoff meetings Meetings to start the implementation of the project will be convened by the project manager and will include project sponsors, stakeholders, and the project team
3. 1.3.2 Verification and validation of user requirements A review of the user requirements will be conducted by the project team and the project manager for purposes of verifying and validating with the stakeholders. Any clarification will be provided at this stage.
3 1.3.3 System design The robot is designed by the technical team
3 1.3.4 Deliverable: Design “intelligent” robots that are physically strong The designed robot should be physically strong and “intelligent’’
3 1.3.5 Procurement of necessary resources The necessary resources for the project are provided
3 1.3.6 Feasibility study A study will be carried out to evaluate the technical and safety usability of that product line
3 1.3.7 Expanding the new plant The new plant will be expanded
3 1.3.8 Deliverable: Production of initial model The initial product that could work in the warehouses and loading docks will be developed
2 1.4 Control Work to enhance control of the project
3 1.4.1 Project management Managing the entire project
3 1.4.2 Overview meetings Meetings will be held regularly to review the progress of the project.
3 1.4.3 Assess and management risks The project manager will evaluate any form of risk that might affect the sustainability of the project.
3 1.4.4 Review project management plan The project manager will regularly review the progress of the project and make changes to the management plan if necessary.
2 1.5 Closeout The second phase of the project is launched
3 1.5.1 Phase 2 The project manager will initiate the second phase of the project after recommendations from the feasibility study
3 1.5.2 Deliverables: Setting the test production volumes, identifying suitable clients for test purposes, contract negotiations for the test period and obtaining product feedback from customers. The project manager will ensure that the produced volumes are tested, identify suitable clients for testing the developed robots, negotiate for the test period, and obtain feedback from customers

Project Budget

The table below shows major activities from the WBS and the resources required to do a particular activity.

Resources Role Activities
Personal resources Project Manager Overseeing the progress of the entire project, as well as managing the performance, schedule, and cost of the project
Database Developer Designing the database to evaluate the progress of the project.
Support staff Offering any necessary technical support services
Project budget Analyst Preparing estimates for the project and monitoring the expenditure of the project budget
Project Coordinator Reviewing the project progress and evaluating whether or not it is in line with set objectives.
Engineers Designing, building and maintaining the robots
Material and equipment resources Wood, metal or plastic, soldering tools, Making the robot
Microsoft Access XP Preparing the database
Computers Designing the database and control center

Risks

The development of any project can be affected by several risks that adversely affect the successful completion of the concerned project (Lai 94). In the case of this project, some of the most probable impact risks are listed below. The risk table below describes the priority of the risks as well as how such risks might be mitigated if they occurred.

Risk Likelihood Impact Mitigation
Computer failure Low Very high Ensure the availability of offsite backups
Failure to meet schedule low Very high Ensure regular review of the schedule and update where necessary
Materials/resources delay Low Very high Ensure that materials are provided before the start of the project
Rejection of the project by stakeholders high High Communicate effectively about the significance of the project to various stakeholders

Quality Controls

The use of items of high quality is important in any project as the quality of the materials determines the quality of the end product. In this case, the project will require making use of quality materials such as the plastics, wood and, soldering tools and any metal used in the making the robots. What are the major items in this case study that require some quality standards and quality control? (You may list them in a table). What methods would you recommend?

Procurement

The success of this project will be determined by the availability of the necessary resources as outlined above. As far as the personal resources are concerned, the project will sub-contractors in some of the workers, and suppliers in the case of materials and equipment. Some of the areas that will require a sub-contractor in this project include observing all the site work and providing an OHS report for both the mine and ARI. Secondly, a separate contract will be needed to provide computer technical support on-site. Also, the company will require sub-contracting individuals to carry out the feasibility study. Suppliers for different materials will also be contracted, such as in the case of providing robots and control systems on the site.

There are four types of contracts including period contracts, standard form contracts, verbal contracts and written contracts (Meredith and Bjorg 41). The written type of contact will be used for all the suppliers of various materials. The rationale for the choice of this type of contract is based on the fact that written contracts are very effective in minimizing risks since they offer proof in writing regarding any agreement between the supplier and the recipient. Besides, written contracts are best in preventing misunderstanding between the involved parties as well as minimizing cases of disputes (Miller 705). As such, in the case of the current project, the suppliers will ensure that they adhere to the contract and supply the required materials as stipulated in the contract. As well, the written contract has an option for highlighting means of solving any dispute in payment, as well as solving performance-related issues.

Works Cited

Atkinson, Roger, Lynn Crawford, and Stephen Ward. “Fundamental Uncertainties in Projects and the Scope Of Project Management”. International Journal of Project Management 24.8 (2006): 687-698. Print.

Fageha, Mohammed and Ajibade Aibinu. “Identifying Stakeholders’ Involvement That Enhances Project Scope Definition Completeness In Saudi Arabian Public Building Projects”. Built Environment Project and Asset Management 6.1 (2016): 6-29. Print.

Lai, Sen-Tarng. “A WBS-Based Plan Changeability Measurement Model for Reducing Software Project Change Risk”. LNSE (2014): 94-99. Print.

Meredith, Liz and Steve Bjorg. “Contracts And Types”. Communications of the ACM 46.10 (2003): 41. Print.

Miller, Daniel. “Subcontracting And Competitive Bidding On Incomplete Procurement Contracts”. The Rand Journal of Economics 45.4 (2014): 705-746. Print.

Ponnappa, Gitanjali. “Project Stakeholder Management”. Project Management Journal 45.2 (2014): 3. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, July 21). Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/australian-robotics-incs-project-management/

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"Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management." IvyPanda, 21 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/australian-robotics-incs-project-management/.

1. IvyPanda. "Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/australian-robotics-incs-project-management/.


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IvyPanda. "Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/australian-robotics-incs-project-management/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/australian-robotics-incs-project-management/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Australian Robotics Inc.'s Project Management'. 21 July.

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