P&I business review: Technologies and systems compatibility: The promise of a good future or a working reality today?

Kari Manner, Director, Business Development discusses future needs and trends of technologies and systems compatibility.

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Written by Kari Manner

Posted on May 12, 2021

Technologies and systems compatibility: The promise of a good future or a working reality today?

Anyone who has been the slightest bit involved in larger design projects must have wondered why it was not possible to share information more effectively between different project partners or even departments within their own organization. The same debate has been going on for decades. In practice, the issue arises, for example, in the transfer of data between different design software packages. Time and resources are wasted, and errors occur when, for one reason or another, information is not transferred between different stakeholders. Is it a lack of technology or something else?

The need for information sharing

Data transfer between design systems is just one example in a bigger issue: Data related to projects is created and maintained in different systems. Sales, purchasing, materials management, project management, scheduling, construction schedules, change management, contracts, cost management, and deployment, etc.

The format of data varies from text formats, 2D drawings, 3D models, tabular formats, databases, etc. Even today, an unreasonable amount of data is manually transferred between systems and organizational functions.

A few years ago, I was doing consulting work for a company in the engineering industry to find out how information flows between different departments. Each individual function was able to create data related to its own operations very quickly, but when, for example, sales-generated data was needed in production to support delivery, the data was left hanging for days waiting for the transfer to take place manually. In addition, some of the data was not transferred. When this single case was repeated several times between other parts of the organization, the impact on the entire supply chain was significant and unfortunately negative. If all bottlenecks to data flows could be minimized, this would increase the efficiency of operations and directly affect the profitability and competitiveness of the company.

Technology enables more efficient data flows

Over the last ten years, technology has made great strides: support is available for various standards such as IFC and manufacturers' own formats (dwg, dxf, dgn, step, etc.). In addition, various data transfer models have been developed, such as DEXPI, which aims to transfer all information related to process diagrams from one system to another. Other data flow tools worth mentioning are standard interfaces between systems, such as ERP, production control, document management, product information management, lifecycle management, and process automation systems. Over time, room was created for specialized systems and technology to enable the efficient transfer of data flows.

A week ago, I attended an AWP Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) conference. AWP is a methodology for streamlining construction projects. Its cornerstone is information management and the technologies that transfer knowledge between design, purchasing, and construction. Several conference speakers stated that the technology is ready to support AWP operations, referring to the cost-effective transfer of information between systems and functions.

Digitalization is coming, are you ready?

From time to time, one forgets what digitalization is all about: Facilitating our processes and working with digital technologies (i.e. software and systems). As a practical example, interfaces between material management systems and a design system, where the creation of design specifications can be done in a few hours instead of weeks. Here, the control data required by the design system is automatically created from the existing material management data (e.g., Puma5 <=> CADMATIC).

Why not let software do routine work, such as automatically transferring large amounts of data or analyzing large amounts of data and making routine decisions for us. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are continuations of the development path.

What next?

Existing technology enables the efficient transfer of information. The next step will be the development of processes and operating methods that decrease the use of cumbersome manual processes and, for example, reduce the maintenance of information in different systems.

At CADMATIC, we have created eXchanger products that seamlessly integrate our software to leverage our competitors’ 3D design and data models (BIM). Interfaces to different plant and production systems facilitate data transfer and streamline operations. This is an important part of our digitalization strategy, and I hope part of yours too.

#Interfacing Cadmatic

#Cadmatic exchanger technology

#Cadmatic and DEXPI

#Cadmatic interfacing