The water sector is undergoing a transformation as they seek to deliver better outcomes for their customers and the environment alike. From digital metres, sensors, IoT platforms and other technologies, they’re gaining more visibility of their networks and providing an improved customer experience.
In the UK, the water industry announced its commitment to a carbon zero future by 2030, which is decades before the government’s legally binding target of 2050. Digital transformation can unlock data – which is needed to help streamline asset maintenance and address the problem of water leakage – meaning it is fundamental to this change. Reducing the amount of water being treated lowers energy consumption and carbon emissions also.
And as we move into the digital age, water companies are looking for ways to stay competitive by unlocking greater value from their data. Analysing data can give these companies insights into their customers, their business operations, and the overall market to drive positive changes.
Anglian Water is at the forefront of this change. Supported by their consortium partners @One Alliance, they have established themselves as one of the most active digitally focused utility companies in the UK water market. The @One Alliance team comprises of consultants, contractors, and other stakeholders who together will deliver projects accounting for over half Anglian Water’s capital investment programme.
Some of the challenges facing companies like Anglian Water today include high operational costs from asset failure and the risk of non-compliance to industry procedures. It has never been more important to identify comprehensive plans to deliver right first time on projects.
Michelle Holt, Programme Delivery Manager for @One Alliance, understands that digitalisation can provide water companies with the tools they need to develop a clear understanding of the network’s infrastructure.
To provide more value, companies that are moving away from relying on old-fashioned paper processes to being proactive and automating elements of their operations so that data can move freely throughout their network of collaborators can both maximise performance and minimise compliance risks.
Michelle began exploring ways in which technology could be embedded into key day-to-day and operational processes to reduce time whilst improving safety and quality. “We’re contractually obliged to deliver certain activities during each stage of project delivery,” says Michelle. “The collaborative production management system – or CPMS for short – is a requirement that supports day to day management but also incorporates learnings from previous projects,” says Michelle.
For @One Alliance, the CPMS methodology is a way for delivery teams to deliver a particular process that must happen at set gateways and project milestones. Michelle identified that checklists in Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM 360 platform could be introduced to replace manual ways of working. Examples of these are recording actions on paper forms and post-it notes at project sites and manually moving this data into Excel spreadsheets.
Moving to a digital way of working not only means information is captured and centralised, but automation can be applied to certain aspects of this data – triggering various activities that need to happen to support compliance, such as approval requests. For field engineers, they can access and follow the same thread of digital information wherever they are and in whatever work environment they find themselves in.
During every stage of the CPMS process, meetings must take place that dictate how activity will run. Michelle and the team are now able to use BIM 360 to drive the meetings forward, automatically recording actions using a pre-populated agenda and checklists. This helps to make sure compliance activity is not missed and decision-making is documented clearly.
“Previously, decisions were made, and we had no insight into how and why they were made. There was no way to capture this information easily using our manual methods, so we had no record of why things happened,” – Michelle Holt, Programme Delivery Manager, @One Alliance
A lack of transparency and accountability meant it was difficult to embed lessons learned into the team’s working practices. Standardising the CPMS process using BIM 360 supports the @One Alliance team to move smoothly between projects. “Team members know what to expect, how we do things and why we do things,” says Michelle.
There are often various safety requirements and legislative agreements the @One Alliance team must follow. This can also be accompanied by several layers of approvals. Having an automated workflow trigger to route approvals to the correct colleagues helps to ensure projects stay moving. “It’s a much-improved working environment when everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities,” says Michelle.
Looking to the future, the @One Alliance team plan to use the data captured through the digitalised CPMS process to help minimise risk and to provide richer data for proactive actions. “We’re able to use the lessons learned captured throughout each CPMS milestone to predict risk. We can do this by tracking what happens when our teams are out on site, analyse trends and change our practices accordingly,” reflects Michelle.
For @One Alliance, uniting construction teams with design, delivery and solution partners not only reduces change control costs but helps to foster greater understanding amongst the multi-disciplinary teams. And for the overall health of Anglian Water’s capital investment programme, mitigating and eradicating issues that occur on site which could lead to delays and rework means quality is both improved and projects are delivered right the first time.