The heart of the matter is trust in your engineering content
- Published: 28 September 2016
Every project has volumes of documents and data shared across teams, systems and sites. Engineers working on projects need to quickly search and find relevant content and be able to access it from remote sites – but accessing information becomes almost irrelevant if they do not have trust in the document to begin with.
Wasted time, money and effort are obvious risks of maintaining documents and content that are out-of-date or incorrect. The heart of the matter is trust – having the confidence that the document you are working from and the content it contains reflect the actual asset conditions, and the approved standard(s) for which it was engineered, procured and constructed.
Which is the right version?
When an engineer doesn’t have trust in one document, it calls into question the quality of all the other documents associated with a project. Not only will that engineer’s confidence be affected, but they will tell others about it and entire teams will begin to wonder if the documents and data they used to make critical decisions was actually correct, or if the last document they used was the most up-to-date.
Prior to starting any new project work, it is customary for project teams to validate the quality of the affected drawing content in order to minimise contractual risk of rework due to spatial and data inaccuracies. In order to allay their fears and be sure that the drawings they are working from are accurate, engineers will perform a field walkdown to verify the information contained within them.
As well as being additional effort and a time-consuming exercise, it is also extremely costly.
Trust brings time and cost savings
Confidence in engineering content relies on a trusting relationship between the owner operator and information consumers. For example, a contractor working on behalf of an owner operator may be required to replace some plant equipment. As mentioned previously, if the contractor or engineering team has been given drawings that they don’t trust, they will go out to verify what is on site before even beginning their work. If the owner operator was able to provide accurate as-built information that matched the plant site conditions, it could save days, or even weeks of field walk downs, not to mention the associated costs. When you total the cost of an engineer’s travel expenses, accommodation, car hire, meals, site access training and potential delays in starting the project, the importance of that document confidence becomes increasingly apparent.
Repeating the effort wastes time and money
Consider the number of projects performed by multiple contractors over time. An engineer visits a site, starts to measure up and realizes that there is another engineer from another company doing exactly the same thing. They are both working from the same drawings, in the same room but they didn’t have the confidence to begin work until they had been to the site and checked the accuracy of those drawings for themselves. How many times has this been done before on previous projects? And will it be done again? As well as being a repetitive effort and a time-consuming exercise, it can also be an extremely high cost component to the project which in turn is passed on to the owner operator.
The time, money and effort that could be saved by effective knowledge capture and document management is clear.
The risk goes away with document confidence
There are inherent costs and safety concerns associated with contractor site visits. The types of facilities visited can be highly regulated with harsh environments containing hazardous materials, heavy machinery and systems which pose a risk of injury. Visiting contractors to these facilities can be subject to a lengthy site access protocol, such as health and safety training – taking sometimes days depending on the industry – before they can even step into the facility. Special work permits may need to be obtained with additional security clearance in advance of entering specific areas of the plant. Protective clothing may also be required to guard against personal contact with environmental hazards. Reusable items such as coveralls and breathing apparatus exposed to hazardous materials must be cleaned after each use, which in turn produces waste water that requires processing. Other personal protection items such as gloves and shoe covers are disposed of which create solid waste to be processed. The volume of waste generated, its processing and storage incur significant costs – not to mention delays due to access control restrictions that may limit the contractors entry to certain areas of the facility. Thousands of people may visit a plant each year, resulting in hundreds of unproductive man-hours generating tons of waste to be processed. So, having trust in those documents from the start of the project would be a massive saving, and if the drawings were accurate could significantly reduce or eliminate contractor site visits, minimizing both direct and indirect risk factors, as well as the associated costs.
Keeping documents in an orderly process – knowing who has checked them out, checked them back in and who has worked on them – helps to maintain quality and trust in the information, and avoid starting to use the wrong document at the beginning of a project. Owner operators may hold the contractor responsible for budget and schedule overruns. The engineering contractor may justify it by saying that the drawing is wrong, but both situations could be avoided with effective document management and having access to all the documents you need from one place – a single point-of-truth portal.
A simple solution: a single point-of-truth portal