Digitalizing Construction Crews - The Last Gap in the Design>As-Built>System of Record Workflow
- Sep 28, 2020 10:17 pm GMT
This item is part of the Special Issue - 2020-10 - Advances in Utility Digitalization, click here for more
The expansion of utility digital transformation driven by increasing demand for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and growing Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) implementations is well documented. These systems need a digital twin, and modern utilities are now tasked with getting high-fidelity and high-quality data into their systems of record faster to feed these network-hungry operational systems. This digital expansion has recently been accelerated due to COVID-19 as utilities look to reduce risk and eliminate paper to go “touchless” in response to the global pandemic. Despite this progress, a pervasive problem remains in almost all electric utilities - the use of paper in the construction as-builting process. This paper-burdened legacy workflow is inefficient, wrought with data quality issues and results in massive mapping backlogs. This article will explore why as-builting remains paper-based today, introduce a new digital construction solution that enables a digital workflow and present the value that some utilities have already realized by filling this last gap in the Design>As-Built>System of Record workflow.
As-builting takes place during the Design>As-Built>System-of-Record workflow which is responsible for managing the engineering and construction of network infrastructure and updating enterprise and operational systems. Utilities have spent decades and millions of dollars digitizing the Design and System of Record sides of this equation, pouring investments into graphic work design (GWD), geographic information systems (GIS), enterprise asset management (EAM), work management systems (WMS) and mobile workforce management (MWFM). Enterprise GIS has clearly established itself as the mission-critical system of record for spatial assets tasked with managing spatial asset and network data and sending it to ADMS. Esri, the global leader in enterprise GIS, has responded to the need for more/better/faster data with the ArcGIS Utility Network adding advanced network modeling capabilities. In turn, many of the top GWD vendors have followed suit offering support for Esri’s Utility Network in their design products. Recent market activity shows that utilities are focusing the bulk of their attention and budgets on adopting Esri’s Utility Network and procuring GWD tools to help drive better data into their GIS. With this approach, utilities will end up with a set of digital bookends – digital GWD tools on one side and digital utility GIS on the other...a mound of paper in the middle. The widespread use of paper during as-builting breaks this digital chain and represents the last gap in this workflow.
Complex Problem, Personas and Ownership
With the push for digitalization forcing electric utilities to assess all workflows involved in driving high-quality data to their systems of record, a logical question follows - Why haven’t utilities digitalized as-builting yet? The answer – it is a very difficult (hidden) problem involving various personas with no clear owner. It is difficult due to the numerous different personas involved who work in different teams, speak different “languages” and have different goals. There is also a lack of awareness and ownership of the as-builting process. Utility designers and GIS techs indicate the time it takes to get paper-based as-built information into the GIS can be 30 to 90 days (a recent industry report confirms this). But, they seem to be fine with this performance and surprisingly unmotivated to address it.
The days of this legacy workflow are numbered. Safety and compliance pressures are growing - high profile incidents underscore the need for improved design workflows and better mapping of underground utility assets. In the COVID-19 era, utilities are seeking paperless technology that improves field worker safety. On the regulatory side, some agencies now require digital as-builts with high positional accuracy from utilities and their contractors with similar efforts growing around the world. There is an urgent need for a solution purpose-built for the construction crew persona that matches their workflow that enables electric utilities to capture a complete and accurate accounting of field constructed assets, create a GIS digital twin and feed ADMS in a timely manner.
Does Such a Solution Exist?
Yes it does. Recent advances in mobile applications, cloud technology and sensors have made a user-friendly digital as-builting solution a reality. The Locusview Solution solves this difficult problem by establishing a new vision for the Design>As-Built>System of Record workflow that is streamlined and paperless - where paper job packets, paper as-builts and paper forms are replaced by a fully digital workflow. At Locusview we developed a paperless digital as-builting solution that fills the gap between design and GIS, guided by a mobile-first philosophy focused on the construction crew end-user persona.
It starts with the design in the office using GWD and WMS to generate the construction sketch, bill of materials (BOM) and cost estimate. This gets passed digitally from the designer to the crew who uses Locusview Mobile to create a digital as-built during construction with GPS & barcode scanning. The office persona can view, monitor and track construction progress in real-time via Locusview Web. Active construction can also be shared directly with ADMS before posting to GIS increasing operational awareness of field activities. Once construction is done and all data collection is confirmed to be complete, the high-fidelity data captured in the field is integrated seamlessly and digitally to your GIS and ADMS and other systems of record. When we achieve this, we eliminate re-work and duplicate data entry, reduce the mapping backlog, improve data quality and reduce time spent on manual data reviews.
How did we do this? Our company was born out of a deep research mindset and R&D approach – working hand in hand with utilities is imprinted in our DNA. We partnered with the industry and utilities to develop best practices and productize them. Our mobile-first philosophy focuses on the construction crew end-user resulting in a mobile application designed specifically for field crew persona that matches their workflow. In other words, your crews and contractors will actually use this application.
Our customers are realizing tangible business value using the Locusview Solution. Today they are seeing ~70% reduction in the time it takes to get data from the field into their GIS, ~20% time savings in the field and during job close-outs and ~50% cost savings from digital data collected by a construction crew. We estimate tangible savings of double digits over paper workflows with the added benefit of higher accuracy data overall.
Utilities have spent decades and millions of dollars digitizing the GWD and GIS sides of the Design>As-Built>System of Record workflow only to end up with a set of digital bookends. The widespread use of paper during as-builting represents the last gap in this workflow that has yet to be digitized because it is a very difficult problem involving various personas with no clear owner. Electric utilities desperately need a better way to easily capture construction data and quickly update GIS and ADMS. Locusview’s digital construction solution matches the construction crew workflow and solves the persona problem. Today, our customers realize tangible business value from the industry best-practices we have developed and productized – we have done all the hard work by pioneering the use of technology to solve this difficult problem. If you want to learn more visit our website at www.locusview.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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