W7.2- Sulphur Product Handling Jetty – Applying a Standarised WBS Structure

Problem Definition

RAPID package 12B – Sulphur Product handling Jetty is a multi disciplined package which forms part of the RAPID development in Johor Malaysia for PETRONAS.

The facility is being constructed to allow the facility OWNER to perform 2 primary functions;

  • Sell and transfer sulphur by product created from refining process
  • Import materials and equipment stored within shipping containers received via Container ships to support RAPID operations.

It is an EPCC style project and can be characterised by the following;

  1. The Project has 3 distinct FUNCTIONS
    • Common Operation/System
    • Sulphur Handling System
    • Container handling System
  2. The project includes 4 distinct PHASES
    • Engineering
    • Procurement
    • Construction and;
    • Commissioning
  3. The Project has 2 distinct AREAS
    • Offshore
    • Onshore
  4. The project has 5 distinct WORK PACKAGES
    • Offshore / Marine
    • Onshore Civil
    • Building Architectural
    • MEP Systems
    • Material Handling Systems

Given the projects complexity and multi disciplined requirements, could a standardised WBS structure such as OMNICLASS be applied? And which tables are the most suitable for the development of a 3D WBS ensuring the schedule user (EPC Contractor) is provided with maximum potential to review and monitor multiple project facets.


Omniclass consists of 15 tables, each of which represents a different facet of construction information. Each table can be used independently to classify a particular type of information, or entries on it can be combined with entries on other tables to classify more complex subjects

The 15 inter-related Omniclass tables are;

When using the omniclass coding structure with a 3D WBS, coding will be applied in the following way;

  • ZBS    : Table 13, Table 14, or Table 21
  • PBS    : Table 11, Table 12, Table 23, or Table 36
  • ABS    : Table 22, Table 31, or Table 32
  • OBS    : Table 33 or Table 34
  • RBS    : Table 35
  • Task    : Table 41 or Table 49


Considering the different project facets, there are a large number of combination the schedule user may want to view the project which is represented by the following matrix;

To support this ability, a 3D WBS structure must be created.

The 3D WBS is based on three main dimensions: Zones Breakdown Structure (ZBS), Products Breakdown Structure (PBS) and Activity Breakdown Structure (ABS).

There are in fact more dimensions than these 3, however for the purpose of this post we will consider only the minimum in order to create the 3D WBS- ZBS,PBS & ABS.

The ZBS,ABS,PBS can be further simplified as ZBS = where, PBS =What and ABS=How.

For SPJ – package 12B these WBS structures will be applied as following;



Selection of tables to develop the WBS will be based on the following criteria

– Defines high level of detail i.e. is directly relevant and hierarchical
– Provides opportunity of its future development when industry change
– Cover’s all Project deliverables up to Completion.
– Strong relationship among its element


To establish which Tables are more suited for creation of the 3D WBS, we will use a multi attribute decision model to check for Dominance among the alternatives and eliminate tables which cannot support the desired code structure. Refer to below

When selecting suitable Table for defining the project FUNCTION’s, it was noted that table 11 and 12 were not considered suitable. Table 11 refers mainly to the overall facility function and purpose however in our case we are attempting to split the function. Table 12 similar cannot be related to the specific project functions. Under table 23, suitable descriptions are available for conveyor and Material handling Systems such that the WBS can define and further breakdown the 2 primary functions for the facility

When selecting the most suitable table for defining the project PHASE, it was noted that table 22 is more suitable for the physical implementation aspects as opposed to the high level division of project disciplines (Engineering, Procurement, Construction). Table 31 and 32 both offer opportunity to be used however preference would be to use the Table 31 2006 version which has a clear breakdown of the co ordination  and implementation phases. It would also require the project phase structure to be modified to suit the code structure i.e. instead of EPCC, the project would need to be divided into Design/Co Ordination/Implementation/ Handover however this is not considered to be a major issue such that adoption of table 31 could not proceed.

When selecting the most suitable table for defining the project AREA, it was noted that table 14 is considered the most appropriate providing opportunity to define onshore and offshore areas clearly.

When selecting the most suitable table for defining the project WORK PACKAGE, table 22 was considered most appropriate. It covers all the required aspects, onshore, offshore, MEP and material handling aspects with sufficient detail and relevance.


The Following tables are considered most relevant for the creation of a 3D WBS for SPJ-Package 12B project.

  • FUNCTION – Table 23
  • PHASE – Table 31(2006)
  • AREA – Table 14
  • WORK PACKAGES – Table 22

Performance Monitoring and Post Evaluation of Results

In the next post we will implement the chosen tables to create a level 3 project WBS to assess the effectiveness to Omniclass code structure within a  multi disciplined EPCC project containing offshore and onshore work components.

We will also consider the allocation of additional tables for the allocation and tracking of resources against the programme activities.ie. materials, plant, trades. This will enable more dimensions of the WBS to be created

Whilst these tables have been selected based on most suitable compared to the alternatives, their actual use and effectiveness when creating the fully detailed WBS is still to be tested and or compared with other standardised coding systems.


1. Sullivan, G. W., Wicks, M. E., & Koelling, C. P.(2014). Engineering economy 16th Edition. 

2. OmniClass. (2014). About OmniClass. Retrieved from OmniClass: http://www.omniclass.org/

3. Chapter 3.4 creating the WBS – Guild of project controls compendium and reference (CaR) | Project Controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet).  Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com

4. Moine J-Y. 2013.3D Work Breakdown Structure Method, PM Word Journal Vol. II, Issue IV–April 2013



2 thoughts on “W7.2- Sulphur Product Handling Jetty – Applying a Standarised WBS Structure”

  1. OK Tony, much better now as it shows you are definitely starting to understand and appreciate the concept behind the multi-dimensional WBS structures.

    BUT you gotta remember that there are MANY MORE possible combinations and permutations than what Jean Yves is showing. In other words don’t take the ZBS, ABS and PBS as being the ONLY possible outcomes.

    If you look at an email I sent to Pak Fakhri, you will see a graphic that shows the possible combinations ALSO include
    ABS = Activity Breakdown Structure
    CHBS = Change Breakdown Structure
    CLBS = Claims Breakdown Structure
    CPM = CPM Schedule Breakdown Structure
    CTBS = Cost Breakdown Structure
    CWBS = Contractual Breakdown Structure
    PGBS = Progress Breakdown Structure
    PRBS = Product Breakdown Structure
    RKBS = Risk Breakdown Structure
    RSBS = Resource Breakdown Structure
    WBS = Work Breakdown Structure
    ZBS = Zone Breakdown Structure
    So while you are DEFINITELY on the right track don’t constrain yourself to thinking that there are ONLY 3 possible dimensions…. There can be 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or any other possible combination/permutation up to and even beyond 15. Jean Yves is showing three as a STARTING POINT only.

    Keep in mind that in a RELATIONAL DATABSE https://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/ehchua/programming/sql/Relational_Database_Design.html there is no established HIERARCHY….. Any attribute can be “on top” and any other attribute can be looked at as a “sub sort”. Using your own example, you could FILTER by “Work Package” and then SORT by AREA, then PHASE and FUNCTION or you could use any other attribute to SORT and then change the SORTING by any other function. Now what you are going to find out is some sorts just don’t make any sense- they are technically possible but don’t add any value. What you are looking for are those FILTERS and SORTS that present the project in a way to help your management team understand what is going on and how to view their project in a way that makes sense to them.

    Continue on as you are, but just don’t get too hung up on the ZBS, ABS and PBS as being the ONLY possible 3 dimensional perspective. That is but one example of MANY.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  2. Another thought, Tony….. Maybe it would be worth spending 15-20 minutes reviewing the Guild’s Module 11- Managing Databases? http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-project-databases

    Right now, it appears to me (and maybe I am wrong but that is the impression I get) as though you are still fuzzy on the concept of relational databases and object oriented databases which is what BIM is based on. Until you are really comfortable with the concept then you are going to struggle with this paper…..

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta


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