BIM supports the circular economy with Acea SmartComp

CUSTOMER STORY - Acea Engineering Services – Acea Elabori Spa

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Image courtesy of Acea Engineering Services


Designed with Autodesk AEC Collection, Acea Smart Comps are small plants equipped with sensor technology that can turn wet waste into compost in about 90 days. Smart Comp is a concrete example of the circular economy: it closes the waste cycle and helps eliminate waste.

Video courtesy of Acea Engineering Services

The company

The Acea Group is a Rome-based multiutility group operating in the fields of water and energy supply as well as waste treatment and recovery. The companies that comprise Acea Group’s Engineering and Services (E&S) Industrial Area – Acea Elabori, TWS, SIMAM, and Ingegnerie Toscane – design and develop laboratory, engineering, construction, and research and innovation services. They consist of more than 600 professionals committed to providing ad hoc solutions for the multiutility sector.

The E&S Area team’s versatility and focus on innovation has driven the Acea Group’s digital transformation journey, which began in 2019 and was strengthened by the integration of BIM into the firm’s design and organizational processes. So far, digital transformation has allowed Acea E&S to streamline its entire Engineering Procurement Construction supply chain and position itself among the leading engineering players in Italy.

Image courtesy of Acea Engineering Services

The challenge

In recent years, the E&S Area team have focused first and foremost on BIM, which is now transforming traditional design processes. Digital models help facilitate everything from initial concept to final construction including Asset Management and Digital Twins.

The benefits of Acea’s digital transformation include:

  • Increased competitive advantage
  • More optimized systems and processes
  • Increased internal resources.

This set of advantages has enabled the E&S Area team to develop new business models that cater to the circular economy, starting with Acea Smart Comp, which is an innovative distributed composting project for organic waste management. Designed to be located near shopping malls, cafeterias, airports, and train stations, Acea Smart Comps are small plants equipped with sensor technology that can turn wet waste into compost with an aerobic process that takes about 90 days to produce ready-to-use fertilizer. Smart Comp is a concrete example of the circular economy - it closes the waste cycle and helps eliminate waste.

The solution

The Acea Group chose Autodesk's Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Collection and the Collaborate Pro BIM cloud platform due to the versatility of the software. "We have introduced BIM at all stages of the EPC (Engineering Procurement & Construction) process," says Giuseppe Morone, Business Process Improvement, Resource Management and BIM Unit Manager for Acea Elabori and the E&S Area. "Today, Autodesk solutions allow us to guide the asset from its first concept to implementation, with the goal of integrating digital information models into business systems."

The integration of Autodesk solutions has brought many benefits to Acea's engineering processes. "With the Autodesk AEC Collection suite, we have consolidated and expanded the skills of our professionals who experience the EPC process every day," adds Andrea Paciola, BIM Manager and BIM Development Unit Manager for Acea Elabori and the E&S Area. "This allows the different disciplines to collaborate better and optimizes the activities of the entire supply chain."

With Recap Pro the team can manage point cloud data generated from drones and laser scanners, while Revit and Civil 3D help generate informative and standardized digital models. Thanks to Infraworks, Acea can evaluate the impact each project will have on the local landscape and environment; while with Navisworks the team can resolve problems during the design phase, reducing the risk of costly errors at the construction site.

"Using BIM Collaborate Pro as a single centralized data sharing and design collaboration environment was critical to business continuity during the months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 health emergency," Paciola says.

The numbers speak volumes about the advantages of the digital transformation in the Acea Group. To date, Acea Elabori, of the E&S Area, boasts 10 certified professionals working in a facility with a ICMQ BIM-accredited management system. Among multi-utilities, they are the first engineering company to have this type of accreditation. There are also more than 40 project/activity management hubs in BIM Collaborate Pro with more than 70 qualified resources in Document Management, a dozen in Project Management and more than 40 in other cloud services. More than 300 families and components for project standardization and an average of 30 activities were developed simultaneously thanks to BIM, with an average of 5% saving on the average project processing time.

"Autodesk solutions, together with a reverse engineering approach, let us streamline the design of our Acea Smart Comp mini plants."

Giuseppe Morone, Business Process Improvement, Resource Management and BIM (Building Information Modeling) Unit Manager for Acea Elabori and the Engineering and Services Area.

Image courtesy of Acea Engineering Services

The results

All this is why a highly innovative and sustainable project like Acea Smart Comp is a reality today. The mini-plants, created in collaboration with ENEA and the University of Tuscia, mean less waste production and substantial management cost savings for the entire national waste management system and for the individual utility's recovery chain, because organic waste becomes compost where it is produced.

The plants also make a positive impact on the environment: They eliminate waste transport by road, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Acea plans to install 150 Smart Comps by 2024 to implement a delocalized and shared model of waste management, equivalent to a traditional plant for a city of 150,000 inhabitants.

"We design and model our Acea Smart Comp using Autodesk Revit," Morone says. "These are unique facilities, so it is essential to work constantly on their efficiency." Each plant is equipped with smart IoT sensors, integrated with BIM models, that enable continuous monitoring. "Real-time information on the composting process allows us to quickly identify opportunities to improve the performance of the mini-plants."

BIM and Autodesk solutions will still be the focus of business development for the Acea Group's E&S Area in the future. "Our goal is to continue the process of digitizing the EPC using Autodesk solutions," Morone concludes, "a commitment that will allow us to strengthen Acea Engineering and Services' presence in the market with the use of the digital twin models, with an evolved and integrated asset management process.

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