How Can Technology Help to Break Down Geographical Barriers and Improve Connectivity?

Aiming to become the industry-leading lifecycle oilfield service providerInfluit Production Solutions provides experience, skills, and industry-leading knowledge to deliver solutions to its customers' problems. Although a relatively new company, founded in July 2014, Influit has a global presence with offices in Indonesia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK.  

Working on a range of complex oil and gas projects onshore and offshore, Influit offers a variety of solutions including fast-track production facilities and water treatment systems; project engineering; design; procurement, and operations maintenance services from concept to operation. Working across geographies means the team needs to form strong working relationships that are both time-efficient for their employees and their customers.   

A technology solution to increase collaboration and support connectivity whilst improving quality  

Paul Rafferty, Piping Designer at Influit, began exploring a technology solution for their design work and was introduced to Autodesk BIM 360. “We support our customers on projects across a vast array of geographies; we’re currently working on projects in Iraq and Madagascar, so being able to collaborate efficiently and improve connectivity across our global teams is really important,” says Paul.  

For Paul and his team, they are involved in devising the best layouts for their customer’s oil plants and the associated piping within it. The multidisciplinary team spans two continents – the process drawings are delivered from Indonesia, but the engineering side of the projects are delivered from the UK. Critical to the delivery of many of their projects is the completion of process flow sheets that inform the entire design and construction lifecycle.  

However, the team was finding that by following more traditional ways of working which involved manually marking up design amendments and comments on printed drawings, scanning, and sharing them via email led to an increased risk of mistakes being made. In addition, the team sometimes found that there could be confusion over the latest revision of a drawing because they lacked the collaboration tools giving them access to the latest documents on a project at their fingertips.  

Evolving from a design tool to so much more 

“We first started using BIM 360 purely as a design tool to link up design models for a particular project, but as the project evolved, we learned more and more about what it could do,” recalls Paul. Improved document control, easy access to the latest revisions, and improved accountability throughout the early stages of a project helped the team break down geographical borders and work collaboratively by embracing digital tools.  

“At first the technology seemed very new and the first hurdle was getting the team to see the benefits of introducing new ways of working,” says Paul. Influit’s more traditional ways of working involved their engineers manually marking up design amendments and comments on printed drawings, scanning and sharing them via email to colleagues in their office in Indonesia. “The manual nature to these tasks could often lead to an increased risk of mistakes being made,” states Paul.  

Learning more about what the technology could do for us 

After seeing the intuitive way in which BIM 360 works, many of the team members began exploring the other features of the technology. Paul says, “The instantaneous nature of the technology has really transformed the way we work and saved us a lot of time on the first project we rolled BIM 360 out on. This led us to implement the technology on almost every project since bringing huge benefits not only for our team but for our customers too.”  

Influit invested in purchasing iPads for colleagues which meant they could access the technology remotely. The fact that BIM 360 is hosted in the cloud has also meant that projects have stayed operational through the Covid-19 pandemic. “Not only can the team collaborate in real-time on projects, there’s an additional layer of trust created. We’re able to add comments to documents, drawings, and models assigning our names against them which improves accountability on our projects,” says Paul.  

Adding a layer of trust and accountability to our projects 

Not only does this additional layer of trust lead to positive working relationships amongst Influit employees, but using BIM 360 has also improved accountability with their customers. “On the current project I’m working on, we gave our customer access to their own folder in BIM 360 so they could access the work being done at any time.  The feedback from this customer has been excellent. They’ve been impressed at how easy the technology is to use and appreciate the layer of transparency of the tool. Comments can be attributed to a particular member of the team ensuring there is no confusion over the direction of travel or status on this project,” concludes Paul.    

Exploring other technology solutions to embrace new ways of working  

 “The confidence we’re given by BIM 360 has changed our ways of working. The technology helps confirm you’re working to the correct versions of drawings and plans which in turn improves quality and reduces the number of mistakes on our process workflow sheets and modelling,” says Paul. Influit are also exploring other Autodesk technology solutions that can improve collaborating. “Using the technology, we’re able to provide better outcomes for our customers, create more efficiencies for our team and deliver more consistency to our projects,” concludes Paul.  

Lisa Jones

Account Executive, UK, Autodesk Construction Solutions