Developing Your Digital Execution Plan

This is part 4 of our 5-part series on unlocking the benefits of going digital and maximizing your investment in a digital twin. In today’s post we explore the benefits of creating a digital execution plan. From my experience working in the AEC industry, the top three challenges within a large construction project are:
  1. poor communications,
  2. insufficient resource planning,
  3. and unrealistic expectations.
The good news is that these are all challenges that can be addressed in a digital execution plan. In a previous post, Making Digital Twins Less Daunting, we explored the building information modeling (BIM) process of creating and managing information for a built asset. BIM is used a lot in the AEC sector. Digital twins of buildings are used for everything from construction to renovations for energy management.
Why Have a Digital Execution Plan?
Digital twins have many uses and can be used to mitigate the project risks I’ve mentioned above. Therefore, having a digital execution plan allows you to identify those risks in advance and align what the uses of your digital twin will be from the very beginning of a project. Perhaps you want to use your digital twin for coordination and precise construction of a ship with a very complex design. Or maybe you want to know accurate quantities of materials needed so you can get better costing.
Planning is Vital to Both Shipbuilders and Shipowners
While a plan is vital to mitigating risk for shipbuilders, it’s just as vital to shipowners. Imagine how valuable a digital execution plan could be to a shipowner if they were to identify the necessary things to be modeled in order to support their intended use after construction. For most shipowners the intended use of the digital twin is managing asset availability. The shipowner wants specific asset information from their digital twin to maintain their vessel. That’s why a having a plan that aligns expectations and identifies what the uses of the digital twin will be, from the very beginning is key. Properly built digital execution plans encourage communication, collaboration and also help keep teams on track by focusing on the important details, not necessarily micro-details, saving teams hours of time.
Your Digital Execution Plan Checklist
Building a digital execution plan is very similar to a BIM execution plan. It’s really about optimizing your digital model and workflow across the project, as opposed to optimizing siloed interests. The framework of a digital execution plans often includes:
  1. INTRODUCTION & GOALS – What is the mission statement? Why are we doing the project? Is it for training? What’s important for this project specifically? What is our cost saving goals?
  2. PROJECT INFO – Who’s who on the project? Contact team list, links to project files
  3. DIGITAL TWIN USES– What are the uses and client expectations of the model on this project?
  4. PROCESS – How are we going to deliver, what are the steps? Project meetings, digital model delivery, coordination of milestones, processes for 3D coordination during the construction phase, model quality control, etc.
  5. TECHNOLOGY – How are you going to support the process workflows? Software needed? Does everyone need a tablet? Include links to programs being used.
  6. DIGITAL TWIN DELIVERABLES – Open file formats for handover to the client? Having a digital twin delivered in a format that allows data sharing is vital for the future maintenance of the ship.
  7. CONTRACT TERMS – How will you make sure that the digital execution plan becomes contractually binding? Consider adding an e-signature block.
  8. SCOPE – The most important part of your plan. What scope is required and who is responsible? It aligns back to the digital twin uses.
  9. OTHER – Do you need a glossary of terms for equipment and materials being used so everyone is on the same page?
Defining the Level of Detail of Your Digital Asset
In the AEC industry owners are asked how much detail or BIM Level of Development (LOD) is required? The LOD specification for the model must include things like which elements are required, how much detail is required, how accurate/reliable/developed they need to be – and also how much information is required. These BIM levels are clearly defined in the BIM Execution Plan so that the project team can agree on useful deliverables at the right points throughout the project. The same goes for having a digital execution plan in shipbuilding. Defining deliverables at the beginning, ensures the designers, builders, and owners are in sync with what they’re going to get. For example, a shipowner may want a high degree of detail for the structural, mechanical, weapons, and mission control because that’s what they will be maintaining for the next 30 years. Having the shipowner invested in the plan goes a long way towards building trust. It empowers shipowners to take control of their digital asset, and know they have an accurate, reliable, digital representation of the as-built model.
Increasing a Ship’s Availability and Serviceability
Investing in a digital execution plan that details the intended use for the model may also increase asset availability and serviceability for the shipowner. Shipowners may soon be skipping the need of having surveyors come onto the ship to begin scanning the vessel when it’s in dry dock. With an accurate digital model, refit work can begin immediately. A digital execution plan is a living, breathing document. It’s something the project team can collaborate on, in real time, at various phases of the project. Each digital execution plan is different for each and every project and so is the level of detail you choose to share. Some projects are early stage and need to explain why you are adopting certain processes. Other projects are further along and focus on how the team plans to deliver. By leveraging your digital execution plan, ship construction can begin on the right footing, ensuring proper communication, and transparency, through data sharing, from day one. Next week we’ll explore going digital, enterprise wide. If you’re interested in discussing your digital execution plan, just email us. Warmest regards, David Males
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