An introduction to digital engineering for asset owners with Jason Lancelot
For the last few decades, BIM has revolutionised the engineering, construction and design industries. But as digital engineering continues to evolve, we still haven’t leveraged the full potential in these emerging technologies.
We’re entering an era where asset owners can use technology like sensors, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning and engineering data management software to give them full visibility over every aspect of their assets in real-time from anywhere in the world.
It’s an era where operations managers can view predictive maintenance reports and schedule entire workforces across multiple assets, locations and organisations. Maintenance teams can complete jobs with all the engineering drawings and data accessible on their smart phones whether they’re on the road, on-site, underground or in areas of low connectivity.
It’s a brave new world and with our newly formed Digital Engineering Advisory Board, we’re committed to developing the right technology to solve the right problems for our clients. To learn more about digital engineering and what the Digital Engineering Advisory Board will do, we had a chat with our resident expert, Jason Lancelot.
First things first, how do you define digital engineering?
The term “digital engineering” spans a lot of different industries and its definition might change depending on who you ask. At RedEye, we’re focused on digital engineering for companies that own and operate critical infrastructure. That means we’re dealing with As Built engineering documents and data for managing existing assets – not so much for design or construction.
I see digital engineering as an umbrella term that covers technologies like Building Information Modelling (BIM), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data collection devices, analytics, predictive modelling and data management software that brings it all together in a powerful and user-friendly way.
What is the biggest challenge for asset owners starting out in digital engineering?
Right now, the biggest step for our clients that want to move into the digital space is at the beginning, working through hundreds of thousands of drawings and data sets to consolidate, eliminate duplication and upload to the cloud.
Some of our clients are dealing with printed drawings that they’ve used for over 100 years in operation. When you think about the number of times those drawings have been edited, scanned, printed, shared, physically drawn on and copied, it can seem like a daunting task.
But the whole concept of digital engineering hinges on having one source of truth for engineering data and our projects team are there to help our clients every step of the way.
How does digital engineering benefit asset owners in practice?
In the case where drawings are in 2D, we’d need to translate them into a 3D model. There are lots of products on the market that have 3D functionality like Autodesk and Bentley, but a 3D model on its own is not quite digital engineering. When data or information is linked to a 3D model, that’s when we start to move into true digital engineering.
Software such as Plant3D, Revit and Navisworks use hyperlinks from the 3D model to access a library of parts. Using this technology, on-site engineers installing or fixing an asset can access information they need to get the job done. For example, the pressure, the size, the brand, the supplier, the material.
When the engineer can easily access and view comprehensive information without having to leave the 3D model view, that is digital engineering. We’re talking manuals, warranties, maintenance logs, workflows in addition to the part materials, size, pressure, etc.
Once an asset is installed on-site, digital engineering software means all of the data required to do costings, predictive modelling, maintenance, replacements and any other type of analytics is readily available. Maintenance coordinators have complete control over the information and their assets making their lives easier, safer and more efficient.
What is the current state of digital engineering in Australia?
Some early adopters have already started moving into the digital engineering space and others will follow over the next few years. It’s not a matter of whether it will happen or not, just how long it takes for Australian organisations to invest in and develop the right technology.
The Australian government is a strong advocate for digital engineering and aims to promote consistency, innovation and capability on a national scale.
Still a relatively new thing for Australia, the government has recently taken steps to set national standards for digital engineering. The Critical Infrastructure Centre was formed in January 2017 to protect critical infrastructure from security risks and the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018, which has only just come into effect on 11 July 2018, will see asset owners and operators working together with the government to proactively manage the risks these assets face.
The Department of Home Affairs have announced a six-month window from 11 July 2018 for critical infrastructure asset owners and operators to join their Register of Critical Infrastructure Assets.
I strongly recommend reading more about these government initiatives below:
- Department of Infrastructure – Principles for Digital Engineering
- Critical Infrastructure Centre and the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018
Tell us more about the RedEye Digital Engineering Advisory Board and why it was formed?
At RedEye, we’ve always built with our clients for our clients. We don’t make assumptions and we believe collaboration is vital in using the latest technology to develop the best solutions for our clients. That’s why this year we have brought together some of the world’s best experts in their fields to form our first Digital Engineering Advisory Board.
We’re working closely with technology partners like Autodesk to leverage their expertise in 3D design and engineering software and we’ll also be joined by RedEye clients and other industry leaders that are committed to innovation in digital engineering.
While the future of digital engineering holds enormous potential, there are steps we can take right now to make sure we are developing the right technology to solve the right problems.
How can asset owners get involved?
Our Advisory Board relies on collaboration and we encourage our clients and anyone in the industry to reach out and have a conversation with us about digital engineering.
About Jason Lancelot
Jason Lancelot moved to Melbourne, Australia from Manchester, U.K., in 2001. Jason’s career spans across drafting, design, 3D modelling and digital engineering in the water, construction and mining industries.
Jason joined RedEye this year to direct our Digital Engineering strategy as Digital Engineering Lead and now lives in Brisbane with his wife, two teenage children and a couple of border collies.