Aconex Limited (ASX: ACX), provider of a leading cloud collaboration platform for the global construction industry, today announced its selection by Otary RS N.V. to manage project information and processes for the development of the EUR 1.3-billion Rentel wind farm off the coast of Belgium.
When completed in 2018, the 288-megawatt, 20-square-kilometer wind farm will generate an estimated 1.1 to 1.2 gigawatt hours per year, enough to power 280,000 homes. The diameter of the giant rotors on the nearly 50 wind turbines will each span more than 150 meters.
Otary is a joint venture between Dredging International, Environmental & Marine Engineering Group; Rent@Port Energy; SRIW Environmental; Socofe; Z-kracht; Power@Sea; Elicio Offshore N.V.; and Aspiravi Offshore N.V. Otary was formed to develop sea-based wind farm projects in Belgium.
With their prior experience in successful wind farm projects, the Otary project team was distinctly aware of the challenges they would face with Rentel. The work site was remote, in 30 meters of water and 40 kilometers from the nearest land. The team would be small for such a large, high-profile project, with only 20 members as construction began and scaling to just 30 or 40 at peak activity. There would be significant volumes of data to manage. Close communication and collaboration between Otary team members, designers, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors would be critical.
"We had used project data management systems before," said Stijn Rabaey, project engineer at Otary, who was tasked with finding a solution. "They can be useful, but the real gains in time and efficiency come only when the solution has well-developed collaboration capabilities. These capabilities enable us to engage our contractors on the system and pass on the correct information at the right time."
Mr. Rabaey and his team evaluated 10 different products and chose Aconex.
Leveraging the Cloud
Aconex satisfied Otary's requirements in a number of key areas. According to Mr. Rabaey, the platform had a highly intuitive interface and was easy to use. Equally important, the Aconex platform was a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform.
"We didn't have the time, budget or staff to implement an in-house solution," he said. "With Aconex, we could get up and running fast without worrying about infrastructure. Furthermore, because we expected to move our offices a couple of times during the project, a cloud-based system would eliminate the risk of downtime that comes with on-premise systems."
Improved Visibility, Higher Efficiency
Aconex provides the Otary project team members with immediate access to project information and correspondence as well as current and prior versions of documents that are securely and permanently stored in the cloud. Mr. Rabaey estimates that more than 2 terabytes of project documents and over 500 gigabytes of communications and attachments will be stored on the platform.
Making all of that data readily available to the project team is essential. In addition, insurance companies, lender's engineers, warranty surveyors, and several authorities are tracking the project and require access to large amounts of data for validation and approval. Managing this flow of data is a real challenge. In the past, projects of a similar size and complexity required up to three document controllers to set up and maintain Excel spreadsheets, tag data and track document versions.
"With Aconex, we hope to reduce the need for several document controllers to one on this project," predicted Mr. Rabaey.
Mobility and Workflow Management
Meeting tight schedules for complex projects in remote environments demands real-time availability to project information and processes. With Aconex Mobile construction apps, Otary team members can access, share, review, and update project information and complete tasks from tablets or smartphones, whether in their office or on the job site far from land.
To keep the project moving, the Otary requires the ability to efficiently monitor the status of thousands of document reviews and approvals. Aconex provides workflow management and reporting of outstanding items to help keep project team members and their interactions under control.
"It takes a single push of a button to determine outstanding issues," said Mr. Rabaey. "Project-wide reporting tools also enable Otary to meet its fiduciary responsibility to the eight shareholder partners, keeping them up to date on the progress of the project."
"According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the wind energy market grew worldwide by 44% in 2014, surpassing 50 gigawatts for the first time, as countries look for green solutions to increasing energy demands," said Henry Jones, senior vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Global Accounts at Aconex. "We're excited to be taking part in this vibrant industry and look forward to partnering with Otary on future wind farm projects."