With nearly 2 million customers spread over three eastern Pennsylvania counties, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) covers a lot of ground. But the thousands of computer-aided design (CAD) files required to manage PWD's sprawling infrastructure — including many not drawn with the proper coordinates — were making it difficult to keep maintenance and new-construction projects on budget and on time.
All that changed when PWD implemented a project information management system that makes it easy to search for the necessary documents and data. The system even integrates with the city's geospatial database and Capital Program Integrated Tracking database. This integration allows utility and other city staff to search for infrastructure information by location for quick access to project drawings, photos, and CAD files.
The system that PWD chose is Bentley Systems' ProjectWise. Both an information management and collaboration service, ProjectWise is a suite of software for engineering projects that provides a single platform for company personnel to share and manage content.
This type of connected data environment (CDE) is increasingly crucial for highly regulated utility companies overall — especially companies that often deal with buried assets. The ability to store, share, retrieve, and edit data and records is fundamental to all they do. ProjectWise allows companies to:
- Locate documents quickly, and reuse them confidently to start projects faster, eliminate redesigns, and ensure that safety and maintenance procedures are accurate and updated.
- Accelerate contractor workflows and increase the integrity of shared CAD drawings.
- Produce quick and definitive responses to compliance audits, which reduce the risk of fines.
With ProjectWise, proper maintenance and upkeep of critical infrastructure are no longer delayed or even compromised simply because paper records about past work and tests are difficult, if not impossible, to locate.
"When someone needs to access information on buried assets, for instance, and that asset has been in the ground for 40-plus years, either it has no digital record or there is no trusted source of the (whole) truth because engineering, as-built, and maintenance information each get updated in silos and are likely not aligned," said Teresa Elliott, Bentley Systems' industry marketing director for utilities and digital cities. "Yet, the engineering documents include important information that could be critical to align to maintenance records. A utility needs to be able to access all of the relevant information on assets more easily and make it available to those who maintain buried assets, for projects on or near those assets and when there is an issue with that asset."
The CDE that results from the implementation of an advanced project management system also improves the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of regulatory compliance and reporting. A truly advanced project management system, such as ProjectWise, allows utilities to do everything from define who can view and edit project content to track what happens to documents throughout their life cycle to quickly locate documents with powerful search capabilities.
All these features lay the foundation for quick, accurate, and verifiable compliance and reporting. "An advanced project management system can help you meet your compliance goals in minimizing the work required for gathering the information to help you prove compliance through reporting, and very importantly helps to minimize risk of being out of compliance," Elliott said. "With the help of ProjectWise, you enforce workflows that meet your compliance requirements, ensuring that the documentation and audit trails are in place for reporting or regulatory reviews."
Although important, regulatory compliance and reporting are by no means the only examples of how utilities can benefit from a sophisticated project management system. "There are other components to this environment that support infrastructure asset performance and maintenance workflows and are enabled by this open, connected data environment in ways that can supplement compliance and reporting as well," Elliott said.
Those same features can lead to big cost savings as well. In fact, not having to re-create a CAD file that can't be located translates into $30,000 in savings. The ability to retrieve CAD files quickly and easily yields significant potential savings, as officials at the Philadelphia Water Department discovered firsthand.
To learn more about ProjectWise and going digital, visit https://www.bentley.com/en/products/brands/projectwise.