Asset Management in Utilities – part 2: Standardization of Construction Projects
In this second part of the blog series I would like to take a look at an early step in the overall asset life cycle, the construction of assets and how to standardize construction projects. For this I refer to the great presentation called “ENEL’s Path to Developing a Building Information Modeling (BIM) Common Data Environment”, that Oscar Torres Lopez from Enel gave at the SAP for Utilities conference in July.
ENEL is one of the largest utilities of the world running more than 5000 primary substations and more than 1.2 million MV-LV transformers. With this large amount of assets it makes even more sense to standardize and digitalize the construction projects and the collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. The standardization is based on the ENEL digital platform, which separates data, services and applications in three different layers:
- The Data Domain Layer
- The Decoupling Layer
- The Solutions Layer
Especially important in this context is the “democratization of data”, that means the data domain layer contains each data object only once – as a single source of truth – and every service and application has access to it. This is a big difference to most legacy landscapes, where each solution keeps its own data and data needs to be replicated and is in many cases not consistent in different solutions.
ENELs digitalization project is furthered by the legal requirement, that for large construction projects the BIM methodology (Building Information Modelling) is mandatory. This affects all projects above 1 million € in Italy and above 2 million € in Spain. Therefore processes need to support BIM in each phase of a construction project starting with the solution engineering followed by the detailed project design and then the actual construction. During these phases BIM models need to be shared amongst all involved parties.
It was not only the aim to digitalize processes, that historically involves a lot of paper work. At the same time, ENEL also wanted to standardize the Engineering & Construction (E&C) processes. This standardization is possible as substations are not too complex and can therefore be build according to common standards, that have to be customized during the individual projects.
The goal was therefore defined, but still the decision needed to be made how to achieve it: With an individually developed solution? By customizing a standard software solution? Or by following a SaaS approach with as little customization as possible? At the end ENEL chose the SAP Project Intelligence Network (PIN), a cloud solution that SAP has renamed to SAP Cloud for Projects in the meantime. Main reasons for this decision were the aim to keep it simple, to get value quickly and especially the openness, that SAP PIN provides with its APIs.
The digital platform however does not only consist of SAP PIN but also includes
- SAP Asset Intelligence Network AIN, which holds the construction standards and their parameters and also 3D drawings.
- SAP Enterprise Portfolio and Project Management EPPM, that allows to monitor the construction projects and decision points
- SAP ECC for additional data from the technical objects
- Several solutions developed by ENEL on the SAP Business Technology Platform BTP
ENEL developed additional solutions to cover specific requirements, that the SAP solutions do not fulfill. To develop the solutions ENEL uses APIs of the SAP solutions and SAP BTP as a development platform. One of the ENEL specific solutions is for example an E&C Tool on top of SAP AIN. Another key solution is an application called Leonardo, that spans all SAP solutions, glues them together and adds ENEL specific functionality with a seamless user experience. Thus Leonardo serves as much needed productivity tool for the project managers, who are in charge of the many construction projects and therefore face a high work load.
I do hope the ENEL approach is of interest to you. I think it can serve as a good example how to build a digital platform with standard solutions and extend them, where needed, by using SAP BTP.
As also mentioned in the first blog, I am looking forward for feedback and comments.