Witnessing Dramatic Business Process Improvements at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure #YII2015
There are a great many awe-inspiring infrastructure projects at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure event, where design, engineering and operations professionals nominate projects and compete for Be Inspired awards. The parallel moves to design in 3D from conceptual through detailed deliverables as well as to institute comprehensive data hubs for both project and asset management are bringing disruptive change to mining, roads, rail, energy, land development, structures and bridges as well as to construction process, network operations and asset performance.
This combination makes for an interesting mix of organizations that all have a passion for pushing forward on what’s possible. There are interesting operational efforts such as SA Water’s predictive analytics for the efficient operation of a metro water distribution network to megaprojects like the 700 MW Keeyask Hydroelectric generating station in northern Manitoba, Canada. There are also many first of their kind efforts such as Singapore Land Authority’s 3D mapping effort at high-resolution city scale. Each of these projects compete in 18 different categories with “innovation” at their core, from Innovation in Bridges to Innovation in Asset Performance.
One of the more interesting categories from a business change perspective is the Innovation in Utilities and Communications category.
Dubai’s Drainage Design
The Inshaat Utilities Management System is aimed at improving the efficiency of drainage and water network projects with a fully digital process delivered online that reduces the need for engineers to check construction drawings as well as the need for contractors to visit the municipal offices. The vision was for a smart Web-based process that automatically checks and redlines the construction documents without involving an engineer by applying engineering rules to check connectivity of the network for all planned work.
To begin this ambitious goal to streamline construction of drainage, sewerage and irrigation networks, the municipality first had to digitize their existing network. This was no small task as they needed to go through thousands of paper plans as well as 77,000 CAD files in order to create a single point of truth. Even with that effort, it is acknowledged that getting to a full representation of the network is an ongoing effort of slow and steady improvement.
Through the implementation of standards and rules-based review process, the system automates the review of plans and streamlines notification and appointment scheduling to help reduce project timelines. After training more than 83 contractors with more than 1,100 attendees present in 13 workshops, there is steady adoption of the system and project approval speed has greatly increased. In addition, a full ton of paper will be saved and fuel, time and pollution will be saved by eliminating the need to visit project sites.
PG&E’s Contractor Collaboration
PG&E were successful in retooling their substation design process internally through the use of Bentley Substation and ProjectWise, with 80 internal design employees decreasing drawing errors as well as the need for re-work in the field for considerable cost savings. While PG&E have seen steady improvements since this implementation in 2011, the contracting of 60 percent of the work to external contractors meant that much of their work wasn’t getting this same efficiency improvement. So, the substation design team set out to extend these same efficiency gains externally.
Tackling the contractor collaboration element on this massive California-wide network that serves 16 million customers comes with impressive cost savings on the order of $5 million per year. The daunting task of opening up this capability to their contractors and eliminating the submittal/transmittal process for direct access and simultaneous design was achieved via a Citrix integration.
This transition to smart 3D design for all designs by the 15 contractors that they work with has cut the average time of design from 24 hours to 12. Each of the contractors has achieved a considerable cost savings, which translates to individual project savings that has paid off for both parties.
Eliminating Underground Indecision
Puget Sound Energy needed to replace a mile-long high-pressure gas main along the busy State Route 510 in Lacey, Wash. Understanding that the work would be tricky and potentially disruptive to the community, they contracted with Utility Mapping Services to pinpoint the location of existing infrastructure in order to plan for a streamlined installation.
Using utility locator tools, ground penetrating radar and vacuum excavated holes, Utility Mapping Services built a 3D model of the underground infrastructure in Bentley’s Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) for Power Geopak. The model represented the existing utility configuration to help determine the optimal placement of the line in this highly congested area that has very little right of way.
By developing this highly detailed 3D model, they were able to determine the optimal route and work plan that addressed potential conflicts. The approval process with WSDOT was streamlined via the sharing of the model and the contractors were ecstatic with a bid package that clearly articulated what needed to be done that also allowed them to pinpoint their quantities and staging requirements for work that could only be completed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
As a result of this clearly articulated map of existing infrastructure, they were able to get a shallow depth variance to avoid more than 200 potential conflicts in this short stretch of road. The contractor was able to complete this work in just seven weeks with minimal impact to the public and great cost savings that far outstripped the costs of this detailed mapping effort.
The above three projects are just a small snapshot of the kinds of innovative work that is on display at this event. The business process advantages of trying new ways of working is clearly on display here with tangible as well as intangible results. This evening marks the awards dinner and winner announcements, but clearly each of these finalists deserves great credit for coming up with solutions that saved money while improving performance with ongoing benefits for dramatic changes to business efficiency.