More about eShare
From 3D viewer to 3D dashboard for project management
CADMATIC’s flagship information management solution eShare is the culmination of years of development. The foundation for this development was laid with the launch of eBrowser, a pioneering Internet Explorer-based 3D viewer, in the early 2000s. In 2010, development was started to enhance eBrowser to consolidate all project data into a single entity with the 3D model at is core. And so, the eShare story began…
When eBrowser was launched it was well ahead of its time. The viewer was not even considered an essential tool since CAD 3D modeling had not been implemented in many companies. 2D drawings were the final products of design and engineering and part of a well-established process. At CADMATIC, we believed in innovations and the central role of the 3D model. Our goal was to provide access to the 3D model to people outside the CAD department.
The immediate reaction from customers to eBrowser was astonishing. Some even indicated that they were able to reduce the number of drawings they needed to make for construction by 30%, simply by showing the 3D model to workers on site, instead of making detailed drawings. After a few years, a tool that was initially considered non-essential became the industry standard. Many of our customers now use eBrowser site licenses to provide access to 3D models for all their employees, or even customers such as owner-operators who exclusively use eBrowser.
Information management and visualization
In late 2010, we started a research and development process to consolidate project information into a single entity. We wanted to provide added value not only for engineering but also for management, construction, maintenance, and operations. Together with selected partners, we researched the need to benefit more widely from 3D design and a new product – eShare. The first prototype was presented in 2012. In 2014, after collaborating with our customers we officially launched eShare as a flagship information management product.
eShare uses unique technology for 3D viewing and with a single window to access all project-related information, be that a 3D model, 2D drawings, object attributes, additionally-defined data, or external data stored in various maintenance and procurement or asset management databases.
As mobile technologies rapidly develop, it was an obvious direction of development to provide a 3D viewer for tablets. At the 2014 Users’ Meeting in Budapest, we presented eGo for the first time – a version of eBrowser for Windows tablets. The first users have already benefited from using eBrowser on the go and we are continuously adding new features to it. With eGo, it is easy to see the 3D model and navigate in it with touch gestures. It can also be used in combination with eShare. A model can, for example, be loaded from eShare to eGo, after which data can be added on-site. This way, it serves as the easiest tool to make all engineering data mobile.
Why is information management so crucial?
We live in the information era where information is key to almost any process. Building a plant or erecting a factory involves many companies that produce a large amount data, which changes and increases during the lifespan of the project. Different studies consistently show that as the amount of data increases, the time spent finding relevant information also grows. In a nutshell: the more scattered your data – the more time you spend searching for relevant data.
Research shows that regardless what type of knowledge work people do, they spend up to 20% of their time searching for information. This applies also to engineering design, procurement, construction and field engineering work. This translates to having five engineers in your team, of which only four are doing real work.
There are several reasons for this:
- Information is scattered in several places
- Inefficiency of search mechanisms
- Too much information, which increases the need for filtering irrelevant content
- The user might need special access rights to different systems
All these factors increase the risk of expensive errors if decisions are taken based on incorrect, outdated, or irrelevant information. Depending on when the error is detected, one might end up just wasting working hours, or in the worst case, the error flows into construction before it is noticed and requires a costly intervention.
With proper information management users have access to the required information in different systems and databases and reliable search tools at their disposal. This reduces the risk of errors and avoids unnecessary costs.
eShare – addressing information management challenges
Traditionally, complex engineering and design projects are split into disciplines and phases: process diagrams and piping systems, electrical and automation design, constructability analysis, zones and areas, compartments, , etc. Different teams or even departments produce a range of data with the goal of ensuring that the project is completed and that the target can be constructed.
Quite often, cooperation between project teams is the most important issue, for example, between process engineers and electrical engineers. Due to the divergent nature of the work, different types of documentation are sometimes produced and stored in different systems. Together, all these factors lead to information that is distributed in different bits and pieces, sometimes in files, sometimes in databases. Occasionally, this data is stored in document management systems, or simply in file directories in shared drives or an intranet. Some project information can be classified as tacit information, which exists only inside people's heads because they have no time or means to attach it to the project.
eShare provides access to the various types of information via one window: 3D model, 2D drawings, overlaying layers of data such as data that is added to objects (status of installation or tracing weld information). The data is linked and can be easily accessed, supplemented with tacit information, searched for, and visualized.
All project data in one place
Simplifying access to data reduces the risk of uninformed decisions. For example, one can estimate the impact of planned changes and make sure that the same part of the model is being discussed. For processes, it may look simple in the diagram when making modifications, but adding a visual check in the 3D model ensures feasibility as the size of objects and their locations can be clearly seen.
An additional check of the installation status shows what parts are already installed on site and might need reinstalling. All these checks can be done in one window with a few clicks: search for the object in 3D, click on the link in the diagram position ID, visualize the status by changing the color scheme.
The fastest way to find relevant information
Finding information is never an easy task. eShare has, however, changed this forever. eShare’s advanced search can search for any item in the model, drawing, or external data that corresponds to the search criteria. In advanced search, the user can search using different parameters: type of value, edit time, or any other criteria. The search list is extracted and can be exported to an Excel list. This allows construction staff to get an up-to-date list of the status of the installation or items to be changed, and also visualize this in 3D.
Visualization of information
Having access to information is important, but the ability to visualize information can be a real gamechanger. In eShare, users can visualize any data available in the 3D model, external databases, or information that was added by users.
Data from a 3D model and linked sources can, for example, be used for visualization: the specification and standard of the parts used, time of modification, priority of workface, workpackaging and constructability analysis and status – all this information can be shown using different colors.
This allows management to check whether certain areas are ready for installation, or whether the workshop has received all the parts from procurement. It can also be used to schedule maintenance tasks and support field engineering
Other examples of linked data is data loaded from sensors on site or results of periodical pipe thickness checks. This way the user can see a graph of changes of any parameter at the facility online, or access risk evaluations.
Sharing knowledge, following progress & going mobile
A lot of project information is added on top of the engineering model. This information can come from field engineers, installation teams or be ideas for process improvements that could be used for similar projects.
Sometimes you are not at the office, but still need the engineering data with you. This is where eGo comes in. It allows the 3D model and attribute data to be taken on site. The user can browse the model, check attribute values of any object, navigate with the model hierarchy tree or search for any attribute values.
There is a beneficial connection between eShare and eGo – synchronizing notes from the site and adding pictures for further use of other parties involved in the project. The best part is that item statuses, such as installation progress or inspection data can also be updated with eGo and easily with eShare.
eShare also offers the possibility to print 3D images with attributes to give to sub-constructors as hard copies of the work task.
This way, the team on site stays up to date with the latest changes in the model and can feed data into eShare. For example, the installation team can check the 3D model on site as they proceed with the installation. The 3D model can be rotated and is more readable in many cases that documents – thus less time is needed to interpret installation documents and fewer errors are made during the installation.
Benefit from integrations
Sometimes, different types of data are stored in different systems and databases. For example, procurement, data can be stored in a separate system that is linked with accounting, another system used for building process tracking, and yet another for storing project documents. Altogether this increases the risk of information inconsistency in addition to having many different places to find the needed data. Some of these systems are used less, which means that users need to learn the interface and way of working again in every new project.
eShare offers many possibilities to create integrations, extend out-of-the-box functionality, and provide access to different data. The easiest integrations can be created by just configuring the ready-made adapters to show, visualize and search for data from third-party systems
eShare may only have been launched in 2014, but the eShare story started with the launch of the eBrowser 3D viewer. eShare can help users get the most out of engineering data assets. It is the perfect tool to assist companies to step up from file-based thinking to shared online information on a 3D dashboard. eShare offers users the unique possibility to access all engineering, project, construction, operational and maintenance data of a facility in one window via the facilitated 3D model.
Pictures are taken from the project courtesy of Wärtsilä Ship Design Norway AS.