Delivering future Infrastructure: Faster, Smarter and Better

Delivering future Infrastructure: Faster, Smarter and Better

As the industry seeks to bridge the global infrastructure gap, the delivery of many critical assets — essential to economic growth and the wellbeing of communities — is still being delayed. The combination of technology and alternative delivery can be truly powerful in solving this productivity issue.

Highway congestion, unreliable rail networks, power outages, water shortages and flooding, infrastructure issues experienced daily and extensively around the world. And all this persists, despite the fact that we know bridging the global infrastructure gap is essential to economic growth and the wellbeing of communities.

However, a swift and effective response to these challenges is currently hampered by inefficient and outdated project delivery methods.

The productivity gap

The frequent failure to hit targets for cost, schedule and output have made infrastructure and construction notably poor performers in today’s economic landscape.

The drag on productivity can be ascribed to numerous causes. The top concerns include a fragmented supply chain, piecemeal procurement, resistance to change within the project cycle along with the effect of low margins on research and development investment; and limited adoption of new technology and best practices.

Embracing innovative delivery models

With numerous best-practice examples and exemplary projects, it is clear that the tools and approaches are available to produce a positive transformation in the delivery of major infrastructure projects. The challenge is to kick old habits and outdated ways of working and to build a new industry dynamic.

A two-step approach to solving the productivity issue embraces first, setting up projects differently to include a more integrated approach that links across the life cycle of an asset, reduces total cost of ownership and creates assets that are more constructible and fit for purpose. And second, deploying digital tools to unlock the full power of this integrated approach, which, in turn, sees the integrated approach release the full power of digital tools.

Exploring these two items in more detail:

Setting up projects for success

The key is to break down the familiar silo approach of plan, design, build, and operate and maintain. The following are some key ingredients for successful infrastructure project delivery:

  • Aligning all objectives and rewards across the supply chain to meet the client’s key success factors.
  • A more honest dialogue around risk – with suppliers providing greater transparency on the true nature of risk in their own programs and owners willing to absorb more risk directly themselves.
  • Well-designed and performance-based partnership models that ensure all parties have “skin in the game” and are incentivized to deliver the best for the project and client.
  • Employers resisting the temptation of modifying existing well-defined contract structures.
  • Using an organization specifically to act as “integrator” on major projects – managing the interface and relationships between different parties across the life cycle – supported by the right technology platforms.
  • Getting the basics right: robust project setup; streamlined governance; and continuous stakeholder buy-in.

Using technology to unlock the power of integrated delivery

Digital tools can bring efficiencies in each individual service line, but they also enable the full power of an integrated approach, by providing the following:

  • A digital thread that ensures relevant asset data is passed between the phases of the project life cycle – a “running current” of consistent and appropriate information to all stakeholders through the different stages of building and operating an asset.
  • Enhanced and automated value engineering to create a more buildable and operable asset.
  • Digital engineering techniques, including automated design tools and the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that not only replace repetitive manual tasks but also use the power of machines to provide a more reliable outcome.
  • Asset intelligence (including the capture and analysis of performance data) to drive more efficient operations and feedback into future designs.

These tools maximize the efficiency of an asset over the whole project life cycle, resulting in a lower total cost of ownership and enabling the full power of an integrated offer.

The future is within sight

While the industry has wrestled with its productivity gap for many years, the time has come to embrace innovation and make the big leap forward. We now have the keys to unlock the future – and they lie in the combination of new delivery models and the smart use of technology.

 

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