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September 16, 2016

Information technology is playing a vital role in visualizing & automating, design & project planning in the EPC Industry

It is time construction joined hands with IT to revolutionize the way work is executed. As a fast growing trend in construction, IT is slowly shaping ideas that were once a figment of ones imagination. One critical aspect is the convenience it brings in terms of visualization of construction activities – an area that is rapidly establishing the relevance and value IT can deliver for the EPC industry.

Take for instance the visualization of a 3D model of an asset in real time. Synchro is a product that brings 3D models to life by adding the time dimension and enabling the visualization of construction as 4D. Effectively what it does is connect the schedule (sequence of activity maintained in Primavera or MS Projects) and makes the 3D model live. One can watch the construction moving in sequence all the way to project completion in the form of a movie -even before it has started on theground.

One may wonder what value this introduces other than visualization. It helps EPC Industry answer an important question how will you realize this project without a pilot? Conventionally, any project or investment requires you to have executed a PoC or similar project. This can help address some of the hurdles that may arise along the construction journey. However, this changes when the project in question is a one-off or first of its kind project, for instance, a huge undersea rail network. In such instances, there are no live examples or pilot projects to learn from. Using such models brings in a certain degree of confidence in realizing the plan. Visualization often helps in unveiling many aspects or potential gaps that are not evident in a detailed text-based plan. It also helps in analyzing safety. Any concerns identified by construction experts can be addressed and the corresponding changes introduced at this stage (before execution), helping companies avoid corrective costs and schedule derailment.

While this means a small change in how we design or model a project, the benefits of change far outweigh any apprehension against the use of visualization technology. At what stage the project model needs to be visualized and how often can be a strategic decision, determined on a case by case basis. What is clear though is that construction companies will need to ensure their IT infrastructure is geared up to support such integrated visualizations that serve the needs of all concerned stakeholders. The first step in this journey is to evaluate existing infrastructure. Companies can then leverage incremental combinations and integrations of hardware and software, to deliver on their vision. Going forward, IT promises to play a significant role in the construction arena. Players can choose to embrace technology early on, to gain unprecedented competitive advantage and realize new efficiencies.

Pramod Mirji is a Senior Consultant at TCS Energy & Resources Industry service unit. He has over 20+ years of Industry experience in the field of Project management & business development. He has a keen focus towards the Engineering, Procurement & Construction industry. He is a Mechanical Engineer & has a degree in Business Administration & Management from SP Jain institute of Management & Research.


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