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Engineering Project Management Case Study

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Added on: 2022-08-20 00:00:00
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Case Study: Carter Farm Project Scenario

Jill and Murray Carter, a couple in regional Australia has recently inherited the 750-hectare family farm, near St George. The farm has been successfully run but is in dire need of modernization to remain competitive and the Carter's are passionate about reducing dependence on non-renewable energy and improving efficiencies using technology. The farm is profitable, but the level of profit has been reducing over the last ten years. The farm employs eight other people and other seasonal workers and the Carter's want to improve their productivity without reducing the workforce. There are six houses (including the carters) and a bunkhouse on the property. The cotton storage shed was built recently and is in good condition, however the equipment storage shed, and workshop were built in the 1950's and needs repair, they are also too small for current machinery.

The elderly relative who operated the farm used very old equipment. This was deliberate as they were able to maintain the equipment themselves. This kept costs down and avoided the risk of waiting for a specialist technician to arrive during critical periods. However, the equipment and infrastructure (roads, drainage, pipelines, dams) is now so old that it is becoming very unreliable, and parts are increasingly difficult to source. The Carter's also do not have the knowledge and experience of the previous operator. They could learn but it seems a lot of effort when replacement is long overdue.

The farms energy costs are very high with the primary fuel being diesel. Trucking diesel to rural communities raises the costs and in poor weather it can be difficult for the tankers to reach the property. Diesel is currently used to fuel equipment and the prime mover and provide the bulk of the electrical power.

The main income from the farm comes from cotton and they also run some organic beef cattle and sheep.

Water is a critical resource. The farm has an extensive system of dams and tanks for water collection and use. However, the equipment is old, and the Carter's are aware that droughts happen in this area. Most ainfall happens over summer and must be stored. However, they do have running water on the farm which has not dried up in recent memory.

The Carter's are aware of the on-going transformation in the energy sector and emerging regulations about emissions taxation. Several of their products are shipped to Europe and will soon be taxed at border based on CO2 emissions. They need to be able to demonstrate how much CO2 is associated with their products. This includes the CO2 generated by the farm but also from all other inputs to the farm (e.g. fertilisers and pesticides). The Carter's have ambitions of becoming a carbon neutral operation.

The new owners the Carter's are very entrepreneurial and have previously had several successful IT start ups. The recognise that by quickly adopting new technology they can advantage their business. This is known as first mover advantage but also carries some risk as technologies may be relatively unproven or have a high capital cost.

They have a strong interest in reducing reliance on fossil fuels potentially swapping to Hydrogen and Solar. They are planning a trip to Gladstone to explore Hydrogen production, investigate electrolyzers such as that made by Cummings and grants. The Carter's want to work with researchers at universities and have researchers work on the farm. They can offer accommodation in the bunk house and meals as well as access to machinery.

Modern agribusinesses make extensive use of data and automation to be competitive. The relatives who operated the farm previously had extensive practical experience but did not utilise digital data and automation rather relying on memory and experience. They want to investigate using satellite Internet or Sky Muster for sensors, IoT or drones an example shown here or here. They want the farming decisions to be driven by data. They are willing to partner with universities or other research such as Queensland Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries.

They have significant cash reserves and the potential to raise loans. However, they are aware that the costs to modernise the farm before any return on investment will also be significant. As they are open to new technologies and have good technology skills numerous government grants are available, these grants will offset some of the risk by subsidising investment costs.

The Carter's want to run the farm as a business rather than a lifestyle choice to justify investing their capital.

You may find this video from a farming simulation game useful How to plant and Harvest Cotton

Management team

Murray Carter

CEO

Jill Carter

COO

Andrew Murdoch

Head Stockman

Lochlin Smith

Stockman

Peter Smith

Cotton production

Andrew Jones

Cotton/ farmhand

Michael Smith

Farmhand

David Jones

Farmhand

Ellen Roberts

Farmhand

Judy Stone

Cook/ Farmhand

Peter Jackson

Mechanic

Clive McRae

Maintenance

With so many competing opportunities and ideas, the Carter's feel overwhelmed and has asked outside consultants Farmrite Consultants, to come and assist with project planning. You are one of the consultants. The Carter Farm team has decided the most important thing at this stage is that the projects meet organisational strategic goals and has decided to set no financial limits on this stage.

The project themes and used for a Project Charter are below.

  • Project 1 Equipment replacement powered using renewable energy equipment with telemetry
  • Project 2 Renewing and replacing water collection/ usage controls and collections including increasing efficiency of storage and usage measurements.
  • Project 3 CO2 measurement system/ dashboard - Database and visualisation of data.
  • Project 4 Building electrolyzer for green hydrogen with researchers
  • Project 5 Building a farm wide WAN network for the use of sensors, telemetry, IOT and drones
  • Project 6 Microgrid for farm use using renewable energy.

Having presented your Project Charter to Carter Farms, the management were impressed and recognised the importance of your project to Carter Farms. They have decided to accept and sign off on your Project Charter. However, they have asked for more detailed analysis and planning before agreeing to go ahead with the full project. Carter Farms have allocated $10,000 for this first phase and have requested a project report setting out a baseline plan for your project.

  • Uploaded By : Abhi
  • Posted on : June 30th, 2022
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