Rob Phillpot

Rob Phillpot

VP Product Strategy at Oracle's Aconex
Rob Phillpot is the VP of Product Strategy at Oracle's Aconex, a leading collaborative construction and engineering management software.
Rob Phillpot

The dichotomy of BIM

Dichotomy of BIM modelThere’s no doubt that BIM is seen as key for the engineering and construction (E&C) industry as it looks to digital transformation to tackle some seemingly inherent challenges such as budget overspend, project delays, and quality control issues.

In fact, a Zion Market Research report predicted BIM market value would reach $10.36 billion by 2022, up from $3.52 billion in 2016.

Continue reading

Daring to disrupt: Three reasons to adopt modern technology in the E&C industry

Seventeen years ago, before ‘cloud’ and ‘SaaS’ were even industry words, our fledgling Aconex office shared a painstakingly slow dial-up modem. Checking email and surfing the Internet were tedious.

That said, we didn’t let lagging technology get in our way. We had big plans to transform how project teams work together; making the process fairer, faster, easier, and more efficient for everyone.

Today, Aconex is at the forefront of global innovation, redefining the face of construction.

Continue reading

Open BIM Workflows that Cut Project Waste

Open BIM WorkflowsOpen BIM is transforming design, construction and handover, bringing a new era of collaboration and efficient exchange of information between project stakeholders. Too often in the past, traditional BIM tools resulted in disconnected teams, disconnected data and considerable project waste.

Designed to Open BIM standards, a new generation of BIM tools allows users to publish models in a single click, speed up design coordination, track every decision and, with version control, have confidence that teams are working off of the latest information. All using only a web browser. Connected BIM from Aconex is one such solution.

Continue reading

Panama Canal deal announcement – Aconex

Some big news in the world of Aconex today as we announced that we’ll be servicing one of the world’s most famous engineering projects, the Panama Canal Expansion. It’s a US$3.2 billion program to build a new wider and deeper set of locks that can handle today’s larger ships. Here’s a short video of our CEO Leigh Jasper talking about the deal:

The Canal has been called one of the “7 Industrial Wonders of the World” so, within the construction and engineering industries, there could hardly be a better endorsement for using collaboration technology.

In fact, when looking at the list of companies from around the world that are engaged on the project, it’s hard to fathom how it could be delivered to schedule without a SaaS-driven online collaboration platform.

For a start, the project will require global collaboration on the largest scale. The main consortium and design team alone include companies from Italy, Spain, Belgium, the U.S., Argentina, the Netherlands and of course Panama. On top of that, there will be hundreds of other firms involved that will need to efficiently exchange information and communicate to complete their works. A job for hard copies, in-house tools and personal email accounts? Perhaps not.

The second factor, which is something I’ve mentioned before on this blog, is the issue of trust between joint venture partners. Can you imagine the time wasted, the potential for disputes and the lack of open information sharing between parties if all the project data was being stored behind ONE organization’s system? A recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, a highly inefficient project.

Before I sign off, just thought I’d share some cool facts about the canal, which may come in handy on games night or in a pub quiz…

  1. The Canal transports 4% of world trade and 16% of total U.S.-bound trade. Vessels from more than 70 nations use the canal.
  2. Groundbreaking on the Panama Canal began in 1881 and was not completed until 1914. The French government was in charge of building the canal until it abandoned it in 1889. The United States took over control of construction at that point and oversaw its completion.
  3. More than 26,000 workers died during the completion of the project.
  4. 36 to 38 ships pass through each day, nearly 15,000 per year.
  5. It takes 8 – 10 hours to transit the Panama Canal including approximately 3 hours to pass the locks.
  6. A vessel sailing from New York City to San Francisco saves about 7,800 miles by using the canal rather than travelling around South America
  7. Ships do not simply sail through the locks. They idle through while they are guided by electricity-powered “mules” attached to the ship with cables.
  8. The total cost incurred for the US in the project was $375,000,000.
  9. The toll charge is decided by the size of the ship and the cargo it’s carrying. To date, the highest charges have been paid by a Disney cruise ship that paid $330,000 in 2008.
  10. The lowest charge was paid by adventurer Richard Halliburton in 1928, who was asked to pay 36 cents for swimming across the length of the Panama Canal.

Wave goodbye

This is not breaking news, but Google announced last month that they “..don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product.”. Essentially, they are pulling the plug on Wave. They do say that they plan on using some of the great features that they developed as part of Google Wave (such as character by character live typing and context spell checking) in other future products. This is understandable becuase some of these features were great developments.

But why have they pulled the plug on Wave? The official line is “Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked”. We have used Wave internally to check it out and see what uses we could put it to as part of our own platform. But while it has some cool features, I am not super surprised that it did not get the take up that Google (and we) may have expected when it was first launched to much fanfare. I think the ideas behind Wave are great, but the usability and concepts behind it were a little obscure. I found Wave initially hard to use. After a bit of perseverence, it works great….. but I think that is where the product failed. Most people don’t give a product like this much time – it has to make them go “ah-ha!” or clearly understand the value proposition and why it will be better. (That is something that we have had to deal with for 10 years). If people don’t “get it” within a very short period of time, they will give up.

Maybe Wave will come back in another incarnation, or maybe it will just be splinters of it. But the attempt was worthy of applause. As they say: You should aim to fail fast, fail early and fail cheaply.