Construction is a unique and singular opportunity for utilities to significantly decrease systemic risk
Construction quality inspections are a foundational part of risk management. The root cause of many failures can be linked to poor workmanship quality and incorrect materials and installation procedures. Many leaks, failures, and incidents with root causes of “material failure” and “excavation damage” can be linked back to the construction phase. Rock impingement on plastic pipe might be reported as a material failure 10 years after installation, but the root cause was poor backfilling operations during construction. The root cause of excavation damage might be related to improper burial depth or poor tracer wire connections. Utilities should develop a deep understanding of which construction tasks contribute to systemic risk and then intelligently focus inspection resources accordingly.
"A common rule we should always try to heed is to detect and fix any problem at the lowest-value stage possible." - Andy Grove
However, quality inspectors can only observe a fraction of construction operations and may not know when critical tasks such as welding, fusions, and pressure tests are being performed.
Enter Digital Construction Management with Intelligent Inspections.
DCM brings intelligent quality inspections and digital as-builting together to give inspectors a more complete view of a project instead of being limited to what can be directly observed during field visits. Inspectors can use real-time construction data to view as-builts, daily forms, safety checklists, weld and fusion records, jobsite photos, OQ verifications, and pressure test records (including images of charts to verify pressure and duration). Inspectors can also view the status of all work orders to determine when to visit project sites to ensure critical tasks can be observed.
A large utility recently completed Phase 3 of their Locusview DCM implementation which includes Digital As-Builting and Intelligent Inspections, and is now in use by over 400 field crews. One of the utility’s primary drivers for implementing digital construction technology was to reduce risk by capturing high-quality asset traceability data, ensuring workmanship quality, and verifying that the correct materials are installed.
Phase 1 started with a deployment of Intelligent Inspections with digital forms and dashboards for quality inspections of construction operations for distribution and transmission.
Phase 2 deployed Locusview’s full DCM solution for their transmission system to ensure compliance with PHMSA’s requirements for traceable, verifiable, and complete records. The solution includes a Digital Job Package with data from engineering design and Maximo work orders that are assigned to field crews. A Digital As-Built is then created with GPS and Smart Tag scanning that includes heat numbers and links to MTR documents. Several new DCM features were also deployed, including BOM Validation to verify that the correct materials are installed and Material Reconciliation of planned vs actual for accounting. Upon project completion, a Digital Closing Package is created for integration into systems of record including GIS and Maximo.
Phase 3 extended the DCM solution to their distribution system and utilized Locusview’s Turnkey Lease, which includes all software, hardware, and managed services required to ensure a successful deployment.
In addition to capturing high-quality data, the utility reports that their inspectors are now able to do daily reviews of construction progress to catch problems as soon as possible. Issues can be identified and addressed while the work order is still active, thus reducing the cost to fix the issue. Prior to Locusview, inspectors had no visibility into project status and had to wait until the project was complete and submitted to the ERP system to start the review process. When inspectors found an issue, they had to re-open the work order and have the field crew fix the issue that may have occurred weeks or even months ago.
Key Insight: The ability to catch quality issues in near real-time is a superpower for inspectors to reduce the cost of fixing issues and reduce close-out cycle time.