New Delhi’s Aiport Metro Express was a $626 mn project that links the Indira Gandhi International Airport to New Delhi’s city centre. The six-station line is 22.7 km long, of which, 15.7 km is underground, while the rest is elevated. The trains travel up to 135 km/h, instead of the regular 80 km/h, translating to a travel time of 20 minutes between the airport and Connaught Place—the city’s main shopping hub. The line has been built using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, in which, the civil structures have been built by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The system installation, integration (including rolling stock supply) and operations are by a private concessionaire DAMEPL—a JV between Reliance Infrastructure and Spanish company, CAF.
As the project neared completion, the challenge of collaboration and managing information on the project arose as a major hurdle, but these issues were alleviated by using a project collaboration platform. On this project, various suppliers were based internationally—Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, and so, effective collaboration across such a dispersed team was a significant issue.
Earlier, when a document management system was not used, version control was only one of the problems. Later, there were instances where the design team could not access the latest data, and a consultant would have to refer to an old version. Most approvals involved multiple parties modifying documents. On a project of such scale, large attachments, e-mail and other data was lost in tracks of changes and updates. There was no record of what had happened and why, and this would lead to issues with consultants.
DAMEPL selected the Aconex online collaboration platform to manage information and link its project team. The system provided all the suppliers involved in the development with a single, central platform for managing data such as drawings, documents and correspondence. By using the system, all participants were able to access, distribute andtrack their information in real time, from any location and at any time.
After extensive discussions with EPMC, a decision was made to implement a full-fledged document management and collaboration system to manage and share information. Having evaluated various options, Aconex was selected due to the clean and simple interface, and the fact that it was web-based. Implementing and using such a project-based system required a change in the conventional mindset, but the training and support provided helped everyone in the project team to realise that the system was easy to use and that they would eventually benefit from it.
Over the project’s duration, 430 project participants used the Aconex system to manage 1,25,000 documents and 4,25,000 correspondence items. A challenge on any project is the accesibility of information silos. With Aconex, everyone was on the same page. The system was accessible to all, so it was like a large paper-based office where everyone had access to the latest file.
Aconex made the task of searching for data easy for multiple stakeholders in multiple locations. Previously, trying to find a document from two years ago would have been very difficult, but with this solution in place, scanning and searching keywords to find what was needed at any time was easy. By logging, the system made document management more structured and auditable. It helped avoid issues, as everyone on the project could react whenever they needed to. The fact that there was no limit on the number of users, no limit on file sizes and no limit on data storage, encouraged high adoption and usage. Project participants were trained in India, Hong Kong and Spain.
For a large-scale project, there is usually a central document control team which supports and manages each function, documents and registers. Two-to-three months into the project, it was realised that such a team was not needed as one person could completely handle the administrative work. The uploading, downloading and reviews could be done directly by the respective functional teams. Also, a paperless environment became feasible and the idea of not printing everything caught on. From an IT perspective, it is a very simple tool to deploy and use. The software as a service model has significant benefits, particularly in roll-out and accessibility. Without question, the system provides a more structured way to collaborate.
Synchronising in Sydney
Sydney’s Opera House is one of world’s most iconic buildings. Instantly recognisable around the world, it is one of the great architectural achievements of the 20th century. Its design and construction involved countless innovative ideas and techniques, and today, that same innovation plays a key role in the ongoing management of the facility. The design of the building is wellknown but the facility itself is extremely complex, containing 800 separate areas.
Its main sections include the Concert Hall, the Opera Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio—each area seats between 220 and 2,679. There are also five rehearsal studios, 60 dressing rooms, five restaurants, six theatre bars, five foyer and lounge areas, and the green room for performers and staff. Other areas, not open to the public, include offices, kitchens, laundries, wardrobe rooms, electrical facilities, security operations and two vast underground air-conditioning areas. There is also a 1,100 sq. ft car park below the complex. The entire building occupies around 1.82 hectares (4.5 acres) of its 2.23 hectare (5.5 acre) site.
Managing the Facility
To streamline the progression from construction to Facilities Management (FM), the Opera House recently created a system where, during design and construction, relevant documents are labelled for the FM division, and are transferred electronically to a separate section of Aconex. This information is then transferred into Sydney Opera House’s corporate record system as a permanent record of the projects. The result is that complete documentation of the design and construction data, including as-builts and operations and maintenance manuals, can be continuously handed over in real time to support ongoing facilities management. Using Aconex meant that the documents cannot be lost through handover, therefore completing the process of the total project.
In order to maintain its world-class facility, Sydney Opera House undertook a continuous programme of improvements and renovations. In the past five years, this has included renovations to the reception hall (Utzon Room), the box office toilets, the forecourt infrastructure, the western foyers and a number of other areas. To complete these projects, the building engaged a number of parties, including architects, builders, engineers and specialist consultants. Following construction, the asset was handed over to the FM division, which is then responsible for its ongoing maintenance.
Aconex for the Opera House
This created the need for a single platform for project information storage and control that can link the parties involved with design, construction and FM, and ensure that everyone has access to shared, accurate and up-to-date information. With so many external consultants involved, a system that could provide visible accountability was also important.
Sydney Opera House selected Aconex to provide its web-based collaboration solution for its building project work. The system managed information—including drawings, documents and correspondence—online. This enables all authorised parties internal and external to view, distribute and track their files electronically through one central system. The system tracked document revisions to ensure that the latest version of each file was available and tracks the status of correspondence, such as requests for information, advice, approvals and variations, to provide an audit trail of ‘who did what and when’, highlighting any bottlenecks.
Aconex was implemented as it provided of a structured, formal way of managing all correspondence between the parties delivering the project. The system formalised this process so that a record was kept of documentation and correspondence that held people accountable. Before systems such as Aconex, copies of drawings, transcript notes, etc. would need to be distributed in hard copy throughout the project team.
When there were disputes or difficulties regarding information, the letter or document would need to be found. But even that could not ensure whether the party had actually received it, and whether or not it was opened and read. A key aspect of this solution was that when someone looked for a particular drawing, the latest version is always available. This means that people are forced to see revisions, are aware of relevant documents and cannot make a mistake or be given the wrong version. This is a compelling way to manage data, as no party can claim they did not receive updated documents.
“If a design change is made in the afternoon, it can be documented that night, then issued the next day. Previously this process may have taken a week,” a project manager said. “There is always someone on a project saying ‘I need it now’. With Aconex, files can be accessed or distributed in an instant. The system is intuitive and easy to use, so all consultants know it and can use it to the point where it is becomes just a part of of the entire project.”