Whether it’s the buzzword you love to hate or a dreaded KPI, the pressure is on for the Australian infrastructure space to complete a coveted “digital transformation”. However, it’s unclear exactly what level of transformation is expected. Until government regulations are clarified and the goalposts are locked into place, it’s tempting to put your digital transformation on the backburner. Except with every new piece of data created, stored, edited, or lost, the scale, cost, and complexity of your transformation compounds.
A successful digital transformation is dependent on the gradual evolution of your organisation; it’s not a switch you can flick on when the timing is finally right. With the current ubiquity of technology, a computer and smartphone in every palm, the stage has been set. To ensure Australia doesn’t fall behind, there are clear, actionable steps organisations can take now to prime themselves for the future. Beginning with the end in mind, asset owners and operators can optimise their repository, streamline handovers, and set their company up for success on their path for long-term digital transformation.
The Case for Digital Transformation
It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when a complete digitisation of the industry will occur. A successful digital transformation will satisfy the needs and functionality of various areas of your business, from the boots on the ground, to the designers, engineers, and executive suite. To stay competitive, and to attract and retain emerging digitally-native talent, it’s essential to remain at the forefront of progression. By utilising digital engineering, organisations gain the agility to adapt quickly, meet changing market demands, and increase efficiency with accurate as-builts to support project requirements.
Data Access & Security
How can you guarantee the drawing in your hands is the latest version? Is it the one in the hands of the electrician, or the one on a lost USB? Saved to someone’s desktop, or cast aside in a site shed? How long does it take a red-pen markup to make its way back to the office? Having a single source of truth takes the time and guesswork out of locating the correct document version, while having a singular solution to refer to can drastically reduce the downtime between office and site.
A common solution is a traditional, per-user enterprise SaaS system. However, per-user systems intrinsically exacerbate the problem of access and create additional bottlenecks – it’s impractical to give every relevant contractor, subcontractor, and stakeholder throughout the asset lifecycle a log-in. Such systems are rarely built with iterative input from the end-user, and tech support channels are often inefficient chatbots and offshore call-centres.
We believe the future lies in unlimited-user programs, which allow an organisation’s internal team, contractors, and sub-contractors, to access what they need, when they need it. Whether that’s online, offline, on paper, in the office, or even underground via an intrinsically secure device.
It’s not just about easy access but secure access. That’s why it’s significant that parties are invited into a system to access specific data, instead of the data being freely disseminated. Uncontrolled data is not only hard to find, but it can result in multiple version trails, land in unsecured networks, or be lost on a USB stick. Retaining control is imperative.
Risk & Safety
Perhaps the most compelling case for digital transformation is the potential for digital engineering solutions to decrease the likelihood of safety incidents. When workers access the incorrect version of an electrical wiring document, or when precise data cannot be accessed quickly and easily in an emergency/remote situation, people die. While the severity of mistakes comes with the industry, ensuring that employees can access what they need when they need it can drastically reduce the likelihood of such mistakes.
We believe that trusted engineering information is the foundation of a safer workforce and more productive assets.
By inviting people into the data, instead of sending data out in an uncontrolled manner, you can ensure the safety of the public, your employees and contractor network, while maintaining strict compliance records for stress-free auditability.
Asset owners commonly face legacy data overwhelm and uncontrolled handovers, leaving organisations data rich but information poor. Failure to digitally transform aggravates these issues, while early adoption of digital engineering solutions will result in a range of benefits across productivity, costs, and safety. While expectations are being clarified, asset owners can use digital engineering solutions to clean, organise, and improve the meta-data of their existing data set. From there, organisations can gain control, visibility, and auditability, of handovers, data, and their extended workforce. This ensures organisations can reap the benefits of transformation now, while creating an advantageous and agile starting point for future pivots.
While regulations are pending, we know the future of the industry lies with the adoption of BIM and digital twin across the asset life cycle. Here are some key questions your organisation should consider when leading a digital transformation:
- What will BIM and digital twin mean for your business?
- What information around digitisation is important from a design perspective?
- What information will your operations and maintenance team need?
- What are the implications for SCADA?
- How will the IoT affect how you work?
- What LOD do you need around BIM? 300, 400, 500?
We’ve partnered with a range of clients on their journey towards digital transformation, navigating a unique path through mining, power, oil and gas, water, etc. You don’t have to take on Goliath to get started – speak with an expert if you need guidance on how to apply digital transformation principles where you are now.
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