Australia’s Envision has developed into a powerful data hub well-suited to mega-projects.
It’s almost five years since I was first contacted by Ennova’s Hugh Hofmeister to talk about the Brisbane, Australia-based company’s Envision construction project management platform (see May 2011 post). Then, a mobile-first approach to cloud-based construction management was relatively new, as was applying lean thinking, and integrating mobile devices with 3D, scheduling and time management tools, and Hugh was keen to develop integrations with other application – including complementary SaaS construction collaboration tools such as Aconex – rather than to compete with them.
In late 2015, I talked with Hugh again and it was clear Envision had moved forward. It had been adopted for use on several mega-projects. For example, the company had completed a major project with Australian mining and natural resources giant, Thiess (part of the former Leighton Holdings group, renamed CIMIC in early 2015; see also Aconex CIMIC deal absorbs SaaS rival). According to an Envision case study, the Au$2.5 billion Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) project saw over 1000 individual users of Envision, processing at the project’s peak over 3000 people’s timesheets. Achievements included:
- Fast-tracking the improvement cycle by an estimated one to two months
- Enabling labour productivity to be calculated for each facility and plotted against time, based on the effective project start date
- Supporting a massive 30-40 per cent improvement in labour productivity
- Showcasing relative improvement in construction time comparative across the 14 separate projects under management using Envision
Following the successful completion of QCLNG, Leighton Contractors has rolled Envision out on three other major projects, QGC Surat North, APLNG Gas Gathering, and the design phase of West Connex Stage 1.
Other Envision customers include Australian pipeline construction contractor Murphy Pipe & Civil, and resources industry equipment and services supplier FLSmidth (using Envision to track equipment maintenance and servicing). Its customers also include subcontractors, attracted by the Envision promise of an activity-centric single version of the truth detailing the hours and resources expended by every discipline employed on a project. Hugh sums up Envision:
“Envision today is a collaborative project delivery platform for design and construction projects that enables near real-time, site-based capture of project data and the continuous integration of that data into the decision-making process. It gives optimal visibility of a project’s schedule, progress, change and costs – drawing on the latest field information and collaboration among project participants, from field teams to design and construction offices and more – driving faster and more informed decision-making.”
The platform supports different stakeholders from the client at the top of the supply chain, through multi-disciplinary teams of contractors and suppliers, to individual supervisors – enabling them to review timesheets, payroll reports, equipment utilisation, and to manage issues (eg: defects, aka punchlisting), using mobile devices to combine text, images and GIS data. Live API integrations are in place with ArcGIS and iCuro Workforce management, with BIM integration coming soon following a proof of concept integration demonstration with iConstruct at a recent multi-vendor hackathon, Hugh told me.
Envision as data hub
Indeed, Envision can effectively function as the data and reporting hub of a constellation of applications and web services, from Autodesk and Bentley BIM authoring tools, SaaS document management (Aconex, the former INCITE Keystone, and QA Teambinder), scheduling (Primavera, MS Project), estimating (Exactal), financial reporting (SAP, Oracle) and payroll and timesheeting applications. Hugh showed me project dashboards incorporating earned value management (EVM) curves as well as conventional bar charts and spreadsheets (Conject strengthened its EVM capabilities during 2015, while Aconex acquired Worksite to bolster its financial reporting toolset). Envision retains its ‘social’ stream of status updates, and the core platform can report multiple datapoints across 100s of thousands of pieces of equipment deployed across a project.
[This is the latest of several blog posts held over from 2015 due to pressures of other work; again, I am aiming to publish the remainder of the backlog during January 2016.]