InEight brings its vast experience in construction to benefit owners of energy and mining projects.
By Staci Davidson, Knighthouse Media
Projects in the energy and mining industry are often high dollar, high intensity and high profile. These projects can be tricky to get funded, and when they are funded, the scrutiny on the work is immense, with costs always being a major concern. InEight has the depth of capital project experience and breadth of technology expertise to help owners and contractors keep it all in line.
“We start with the early stages of a project, in the funding and idea stage,” Chief Product Officer Brad Barth explains. “InEight has a software solution with intelligent planning and scheduling capabilities that helps owners create high-level plans and estimates to take the project through funding approval. Additionally, all information gathered at that stage, particularly the assumptions around scope, serves as the basis for the more detailed planning and estimating done during the design and construction stages.”
InEight’s project management software solutions span every stage of a project, from initial project scoping to project completion, turn-over and start-up. They are designed to help owners and contractors keep projects on schedule and on budget by focusing on key areas such as estimating, budgeting and forecasting, project planning and scheduling, document management, inspections, work planning and progressing, contract and change management, and virtual design and construction (VDC).
Industry statistics show that energy projects often wind up providing 20 to 25 percent less value than planned at time of approval, mainly due to scope adjustments caused by cost and schedule overruns. Owners attempt to deal with this by building contingencies into the budget, but determining how much capital to leave on the sideline to mitigate cost and schedule risk for approved projects is a huge challenge for project controls organizations.
“Solving challenges like this is at the heart of our solutions,” Barth says. “With InEight software, owners can contain that value erosion, efficiently deal with changes, and keep the work on track to deliver the full value of the project as it was originally conceived.”
This benefit extends beyond new capital projects. In the mining and energy world, even maintenance projects can be significant and valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, with contractor spend exceeding millions of dollars a day on a large shutdown or turnaround project. It is critical to have a sound, detailed work plan that is well understood and tightly integrated with the budget and schedule to effectively control costs.”
InEight solutions have been deployed on hundreds of billions of dollars of capital and maintenance projects, and customers have said they appreciate how the software helps them improve communication and collaboration, keeping owners and contractors on the same page throughout a project. InEight allows each project stakeholder to see information in real time that they need to do their work. With InEight’s legacy and experience in heavy civil and industrial projects, the company’s software has the level of process detail required for complex energy and mining jobs. The solution is like a project controls methodology in a box, Barth notes, with the flexibility to adjust to the needs of each customer, and even to the unique needs of each project.
“We do have a tremendous amount of industry experience on our team, both on the product development side as well as in our services group, that helps customers utilize the solution,” he says. “We have people with 15 to 20 years of experience running these types of projects, and that expertise comes fully into play as we build the software and then help users leverage its advantages. We’re able to understand customers’ needs without having to speculate because we’ve been there and know what they are going through. Our tools speak their language.”
Going forward, InEight plans to continue adding functionality to the tools to make them smarter, embedding intelligence into the solution, such as augmented intelligence that will help it learn results from projects or relationships with data, as well as learn what types of information should be called out. The company will continue to expand how it leverages 3-D models as the foundation for a common data environment for document management and critical cost, schedule and budget information. Further, InEight aims to drive collaboration between all of the different stakeholders on a project to enhance confidence in the project and reduce cost overruns.
“The funding justification for capital projects in this market is based on the return on investment (ROI), and that ROI is based on an assumption of what can be delivered by when, and at what cost,” Barth says. “The value of the output from mining and energy projects is hard to pin down, as prices are fluctuating constantly. Owners have to have a defensible and detailed cost model in order to run ‘what if?’ scenarios to continually test the ROI for the project as it moves along. As market prices are changing, and decisions must be made that impact cost, you have to be able to look at whether the economics still make sense. InEight can help show whether a project is on track to deliver its expected ROI.”
“The legacy of InEight in complex construction work is appreciated by folks in mining and energy because of the software’s best-in-class capabilities,” he adds. “Estimating, budgeting, planning and execution on these projects is very intense, but the InEight tools make it easy to stay in control as things change.”