The world has undoubtedly changed as a result of COVID-19, but it’s not been all bad for engineering industries. Last month, we brought together a team of our customers in a virtual roundtable to share their challenges and experiences of recent times. Despite working in diverse sectors – oil and gas, energy and utilities, nuclear – and being a mix of both EPCs and Owner Operators, there was consensus around some the challenges being faced but even more surprisingly, some of the benefits that have come from continuing to work during the pandemic.
Productivity has increased
It’s a topic being debated around the world, whatever industry you’re in, but the overwhelming majority in the roundtable session felt that their own, and their co-workers, productivity has improved during this time. Although recognising that they missed in-person interaction, most were enjoying working from home and felt that their technology tools and access to their engineering document management systems had been seamless, allowing to do their jobs as normal and being even more productive.
Quality and innovation are getting more focus
With more working from home and less activity in the field, people have had more time. Activities that had been neglected due to workload can now be addressed and there was overwhelming feedback that quality has improved as a result. Innovation is also on the rise as we’re all looking at ways to do things differently and better and expectations are changing. The need to have documentation in a controlled and accessible environment has gained greater focus as people are working more from home.
Processes and automation are accelerating
We have all been striving for more digitalisation and automation in our processes, for example creating digital twins, and it seems that the pandemic has actually accelerated these initiatives with more time available to plan and scope. With resources reduced, it’s becoming clearer that moves away from paper-based systems and hard copies need to be done digitally and standardised, sooner rather than later. In some companies – usually as a result of acquisition – teams are using multiple document management systems and are starting to work towards streamlining their tools to have one or two systems to cope with the demands of both lightweight and complex projects.
A culture shift is happening
Further to looking at digitalisation and automation, new types of projects are now getting focus. While the downturn in the oil price is undoubtedly concerning for many, renewables projects for solar and wind are starting to grow and with those come different work processes and a focus on mobile and offline working, due to their remote locations. Similarly, within companies they’re addressing new ways of working, for example training online to maximise the capability of software tools.
We’ll be hosting further industry roundtables across Idox and would love to hear more from our customers and those working on complex engineering projects, looking for some advice or best practice.