Megaprojects are not a new thing. Some of the very first were the aqueducts built by the Romans beginning in 312 BC.
Designed to serve the citizens of Rome, they helped reduce dependencies on native springs, streams and groundwater.
Over the next 600 years, hundreds were built, some as long as 240 kilometres, supplying more than one million people with water and fuelling economic growth. The lifeblood of an empire, many still stand today as stunning legacies of engineering and civil achievement.
Fast forward to 2021, and infrastructure projects have become still larger and are more complex than ever.
This is the result of both project requirements and the pure ambition to build assets that will serve communities for many decades to come.
Yet the construction industry’s investment in the proper technology tools and systems to keep up with this demand has lagged. For Sydney Water, however, brilliant new connections and insights are being realised every day.
Owned by the New South Wales government, the company looks after fresh water, water treatment, plus waste and storm water needs serving 5 million customers throughout the city of Sydney as well as the Blue Mountains and Illawarra.
By 2031, Sydney Water expects another 1.3 million people will move into its operational area, translating into half a million new homes and jobs and a 20 per cent increase in workload. How is it meeting these new demands?
Like the Romans conquered geo logistics, crews at Sydney Water are conquering data logistics by developing fresh delivery methodologies based on sound project controls technology provided by InEight.
According to Mark Simister, Head of Program Delivery for Sydney Water, they’re already looking forward to hitting new highs in safety improvement, environmental sustainability and customer satisfaction. Here’s how they’re doing it.
Partnering for Success With P4S and InEight
To meet the needs of its soon-to-be 6.3 million customers as well as its three regional delivery consortia (RDCs), the company will invest at least US$4B over the next 10 years and is collaborating with its RDCs through its own innovative project delivery model, Partnering for Success (P4S).
Under the new model, Sydney Water partners with the RDCs to deliver end-to-end design, construction, maintenance and facilities management services.
“To build a model that simplifies Sydney Water’s supply chain, we need to work better with our partners and suppliers to plan and deliver infrastructure that reduces costs, makes procurement easier and gives better outcomes for our customers,” Simister explains.
“P4S creates security for both Sydney Water and our industry partners.”
Through P4S, Sydney Water works closely with 12 organisations that make up the RDCs – Confluence Water, Delivering for Customers and the West Region Delivery Team – to further its vision of creating a better life with world class water services for customers.
The P4S integrated project controls system based on the InEight platform will be instrumental in reducing costs, increasing confidence, and driving transparency and collaboration with the RDCs.
Each of the organisations will now rely on the InEight platform for tracking and managing their NEC4-based P4S framework contracts. P4S sees Sydney Water as the first major infrastructure company in Australia to use the NEC4 contract approach to deliver new works.
“P4S is a significant project to get up and running, so we need a solid project controls environment that can work with both master data and transactional data,” Simister says.
“Everything for us is fundamentally built upon a schedule. So, getting something that could tie in with the schedule, fill data, and talk to our business systems as well as our partners’ business systems was a crucial element for us. This is why we chose InEight.”
Why Integrated Project Controls?
Whether it’s in the planning, design, construction, maintenance, or actual operations phase, transparency is key to Sydney Water’s success.
“Our leaders need to be able to make timely decisions, and we need clarity and that single source of truth,” Simister explains.
“It gives us the opportunity to understand our commitments and understand where we can be looking forward or if we need more funding. It’s a source of real-time project control data that we can give stakeholders to provide better outcomes across the business.”
When dealing with megaprojects, teams need to be able to respond to stakeholders throughout the project life cycle.
This is one reason why the P4S program isn’t just about designing a building but goes all the way through to the operation and maintenance of those assets as well.
Therefore, for Sydney Water, it was essential that any tech solution they adopted would provide a collaborative environment their RDCs could use since each came to the project with their own working methodologies and systems.
“This isn’t just a technological challenge, but an enormous people challenge as well,” Simister adds.
“It’s a shared environment that must allow for consistent data collection, a consistent data format, and of course, reporting that provides a common framework understood by all the stakeholders in the project through its entire life cycle — all on a mega scale.”
For example, though everyone wants data transparency, everyone also respects and understands that there is a degree of intellectual property concern and times when RDCs want to operate with an element of discretion in an environment that is theirs.
Enabling them to do that and, at the same time, share information and draw from common sets of data for reporting is sometimes a big challenge.
“InEight has helped us address this need in the way we’ve been able to map the requirements of not just Sydney Water, but also the RDCs, which ultimately provides a record of project data that can be shared at the handover in the startup and operational phases of the project,” Simister explains.
A Foundation for Success
The need for implementing delivery models such as P4S and systems like InEight’s project controls platform are not unique to Sydney Water.
Any company associated with or involved in megaprojects will have similar needs, challenges and hurdles to conquer.
Ultimately, it’s really all about having an integrated project controls platform that can create a fluid, living foundation — the eyes and ears of a project, if you will — to really be proactive and manage what is being delivered.
“I’ve been involved in program delivery for almost 25 years across various organisations and industries and I’ve seen many megaprojects globally that run late and over budget,” Simister reflects.
“By practicing collaborative contracting with effective tools and systems, we can help stop this scenario from becoming the new normal for megaprojects and move into a more positive, productive direction.”
With megaproject owners like Sydney Water setting new standards for how data can be leveraged, project controls is proving to be an exciting and predictable way to accomplish these goals.
Today, there is a wonderful opportunity to see just how far megaprojects and their data can go to create legacies of success for communities and businesses alike.
InEight recognises that pushing these goals is part of our duty and commitment to the industries we serve, as they seek to build their own legacies well into the future.
Mega Data Best Practices Takeaways:
One: Share data to enable better decision-making.
Two: Continuously assess risks from a holistic perspective.
Three: Determine project KPIs from the outset and set up reporting early.
Four: Leverage common metrics and language from the field to the boardroom.
Five: Accommodate workflows by incorporating best practices in configuration decisions.
Six: Align controls to your contract framework.
Seven: Enable full access to “one source of truth” whilst protecting commercial sensitivities and IP.
Eight: Align field data throughout the project life cycle for all stakeholders.
To learn more about InEight, please visit InEight.com.
Find out more about Sydney Water’s P4S program here.