The Price Of Bad Information

On large capital projects with thousands of man-years of work in everything from design and engineering to construction and commissioning, information plays a vital part. It is a known fact that a large amount of time is spent searching for information and on large projects these numbers can become significant, very fast.

Large projects equal large costs

Industrial engineering technologyTake as an example a redevelopment project for a North Sea oil field. As large and complex projects, they can often cost over $1bn in total and can easily represent a 3,000 man years or more in work. Whether the work is design and engineering or installation and commissioning it requires information as part of the execution and lack of control over this information is a large cause of loss of productivity. Contractors and suppliers can expect to spend over 1,200,000 hours searching for relevant information as these projects often involve older format and paper documents. With a fixed price project, as these often are, if they can reduce the number of hours spent searching by 50% or more they stand to increase their profit dramatically.

Digitization will improve project management and oversight as information is more readily available. Decisions need to be made quickly and effectively to keep the project moving forward, and the ability to deal with unexpected events and changes is paramount. Key to the effective management and control of projects is information, and the flow of information throughout the value chain is vital for progress.

Without effective control over the flow of information throughout a project, it becomes impossible to maintain oversight and respond to changes. Lack of information control is so endemic in modern business that processes exist to account for problems it causes rather than deal with the root concern. A redline on a drawing or document represents a change to installed equipment due to mismatches between design and reality. Whatever the reason for this mismatch, from the wrong drawings used during design and engineering, to executing installations in the wrong order, the problem comes down to poor information management.

Information management is a cost driver in projects that often goes unnoticed due to the integrated nature of document and information management. Over time the processes becomes part of the very fabric of the business and one quickly becomes blind to their inadequacies – to the point where even when these faults are pointed out – they are defended as working as intended.

The costs of these inefficiencies are high even in small projects with a large amount of time spent searching for relevant information at a cost to productivity. Many studies have been conducted into the cost of inefficient information management, and studies carried out recently by IDC and McKinsey Global Institute conclude that the average knowledge worker spends 20% of their time searching for information relevant to a given task. Add in time spent communicating (writing and responding to emails etc.) and collaborating (preparing for and attending meetings etc.) and the time a worker spends on actual tasks relevant to their job is less than 40%.

engineering man and safety helmet standing against beautiful dusky sky of oil refinery plant scene use for energy of fossil fuel and industry topic backgroundCollaboration is another often-overlooked problem area, particularly collaboration between levels in the value chain. Due to poor information management, communication with contractors and suppliers is often handled through tracked transmittals via email or ftp uploads rather than through integration of information systems. Not only is this process inefficient and highly dependent on a single point (document control), it is also a clear point of failurewith a distinct risk of wrong documentation being transmitted due to compilation errors, for example, that may not be identified before installation.

While digitalization cannot remove these issues completely, it can greatly reduce the impact they have on projects thus improving productivity, reducing costs and project time. Digitizing existing documents, including extracting key data into relevant databases and cross referencing all documents and tags, will reduce the time spent searching for information by at least 50%. And once fully digitized it will also be much easier to identify non-compliance areas where documentation might be wrong or missing.

The addition of a laser scan of the installation in question will not only add great value for the customer as the final piece of the digitizing process, but also greatly help reduce costs during the modification phase. A laser scan rapidly captures millions of data points in a point cloud during scanning and accurately locates installed equipment in three-dimensional space.

The larger the project, the more savings can be achieved, and both major modifications of older installations and decommissioning projects stand to achieve great savings through digitalization. Often based on older format, or even paper documents, these projects are complex, time consuming and costly due to lack of good information.

Protean Can Help

Businesswoman using digital graph interfaceThe cost of improving productivity through digitalization does not have to be high. Through use of state of the art equipment and computer systems combined with our extensive experience in information management, Protean can deliver a digitalization process quickly and efficiently.

We understand that time is of the essence when it comes to making information available and to that end our focus has been to build processes for rapidly transforming your data into digital information. Capable of converting large amounts of documents with both speed and quality we can help improve your productivity almost immediately.

Protean can help with all aspects of this digitalization process. Not only through expert review of existing processes and advice on suggested changes, but we can also carry out the actual digitization process. Capable of converting everything from paper documents to digital files from the current state to fully digital within a short time span, and at low cost, we can deliver these cost savings.

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