From manual to digital – a short guide to transforming the capture and turnaround of defects

The minimisation and quick resolution of defects is critical to the profitability and success of an engineering project.

The minimisation and quick resolution of defects is critical to the profitability and success of an engineering project. The emergence of new technologies, such as mobile applications, to help streamline and standardise site inspection, defect management, mechanical completion and handover processes are being welcomed as Owner Operators and EPCs respond to downward cost pressures, tighter margins and more fixed-term contracts.

Identifying, capturing and managing defects is often an inefficient task, relying too much on paperwork and manual processes. This can increase the likelihood of human error, leading to serious impacts on safety, project costs and compliance.  This is particularly relevant where engineers have no way to quickly capture, report and resolve the system / sub-system defect as soon as it is identified, and prevent costly mistakes being repeated.

Early warning – sooner rather than later

If a project can put in place a solution to support early warning against non-conformance – and for these issues to be captured and reported early in a project – there is a good chance the project will realize significant benefits. This is illustrated by an EPC customer insight where, before implementing such a system, the organization experienced a defect being carried out incorrectly nearly 1,500 times. This non-conformance was only captured at the end of the project, by which time the cost of performing remedial action had significantly increased. Further analysis showed that the average cost to solve the defect was only €110. However, with 25,000 of these defects raised on a single project, this spiralled to €2.75 million – a cost which could easily have been avoided with the right solution in place.

Accessing information anywhere

On many projects, paper and manual handling of defects are still heavily used. The site inspector may take notes on paper, mark up drawings and inspection forms by hand, copy them and then share. Through mobile applications, this process can be standardized and automated, reducing complexity and saving time. It is simpler to collaborate on projects as both site inspectors and contractors are able to view assigned and open tasks from their tablet, complete forms and notify others of any changes. They are also able to attach photos to punchlist items, add comments, create digital signatures and automatically notify the defect administrator of work completed, helping to mitigate risks and reduce the liability of incidents. All updates can be made via the app and while on the move. This digital solution is, therefore, much less prone to human error, triggering workflows and syncing with the document management system, supporting a single point of truth for all as-built documentation. The team has access to the most recent version of the documents from any location improving project-wide oversight and reducing errors and lead times.

Keeping a trusted data source

The capturing and effective change management of defects are key factors in maintaining such a trusted data source. Tight control over document revisions, and automated workflows for approval processes, ensure that best practice is followed and all changes are updated and synchronised with the engineering document management system (EDMS).

Through continual updating, engineering drawings and documents reflect what is actually in the plant. By capturing and managing changes, controlling document revisions in a process, the facility information is kept up-to-date for construction activities – otherwise, documents are marked up, filed or misplaced and the definitive version is not known, breaking the ‘chain of trust’.

Continuous improvement

The use of defect capture applications that are closely integrated with document management also allows for the retrospective review of projects to identify where things went well and where things can be improved. For example, were project issues related to a particular supplier, vendor or sub-contractor, or did problems arise as a result of poor documentation? When all this information is captured and controlled in a centralized manner, the next project can benefit from these insights to increase quality and productivity, ultimately saving time, money and resources. Through a single integrated engineering document management system and mobile application, project-wide oversight, control and co-ordination of defect management can not only be transformed, but also continually improved.

The solution is technology

Idox’s digital commissioning tools are ideally suited to EPCs and Owner Operators seeking to optimize and standardize site inspection, defect management, mechanical completion and handover phases of their projects.  They reduce errors, improve margins, mitigate risks and minimize the cost of incidents – from early warning issue tracking, through to site inspection and commissioning procedures.

Looking to find out more? Get in touch with our team.

Published on: 7 February 2018

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