Tag Archive for: engineering

This document is designed to help AEC firms think about how they can use emerging technology to transform their processes. You’ll see that each section has a list of questions and prompts to help you brainstorm, as well space to note ideas and doodle.

Fill out your details below to download the prompter

Engineering firms should, by their very nature, be interested in sustainability. After all, their objective is to solve problems and make things function in a better way, and right now our world is in dire need of solutions for global climate change, dealing with plastic waste and finding new sources of sustainable energy.

If this is interesting to your firm but you’re not sure how you could contribute or what kind of projects you should look out for, maybe this article will help you. We have rounded up some of the most interesting sustainable engineering projects from around the world.

Dell Technologies harvests & recycles plastics from oceans

Dell has created a new supply chain that recovers ocean-bound plastics, putting them back into its packaging instead of letting them wash out to sea. The company says it works with suppliers to collect, process and mix plastics with other recycled material to create molded trays used for packaging select products. The trays are made from 50% ocean-bound plastic and 50% recycled HDPE plastic, using no virgin materials.

Learn more about Dell’s sustainability projects here.

Anne Wrobetz is an adjunct instructor in CU Boulder’s Engineering Management Program, and shared her insights on this project in a recent article, saying, “It’s positive for Dell. They’ve had to make this initial upfront investment but over the long run they are saving a lot of money and they are becoming recognised as an industry leader in the field of sustainable business. They are making all of this information available to other companies in an effort to get them to also start thinking about where their plastics come from and how they can change their supply chain and really leverage these new ideas. It sets them apart from their competitors and gives them a competitive advantage.”

Newlight creates AirCarbon sustainable plastic

AirCarbon was developed by Newlight Technologies. They use natural ocean microorganisms to make PHB from air and greenhouse gas. Unlike synthetic materials, the AirCarbon molecule is a molecule made throughout nature, and can be re-consumed by natural microorganisms like leaves or twigs, enabling life to restore itself.

Recently featured on CNN, AirCarbon has won many awards for its innovative sustainability. It’s a verified carbon-negative material, meaning every step of its production and use is fully green and sustainable. Because it is not made from oil like other plastics, it is also a cost-effective alternative to other synthetic materials.

Learn more about AirCarbon here.

EONEF brings electricity to disaster zones

Developed by French start-up EONEF, Zéphyr is a photovoltaic balloon and eco-friendly generator . The autonomous aerial platform takes the form of a helium balloon.

It was created to help emergency services deploy telecommunications networks in under an hour when dealing with crises and emergencies, providing field teams with live data using a fixed-point camera.

It’s also used for scientific missions including measuring air quality and observing wildlife, and for extended protection of sensitive sites.

Learn more about Zéphyr here.

The Svart Hotel: the world’s first energy-positive hotel

The Svart Hotel in northern Norway will be the first energy positive hotel in the world.

Set to open in 2022, Svart is “Inspired by local coastal building traditions and nature, dissolving the boundary between land and water. We aim to transform how we look at hotels and introduce hotels’ future through a sustainable, innovative approach to design, technology, construction, operation and guest journey.”

Designed by architects Snøhetta and engineering consultants Asplan Vaak, this hotel aims to create more energy than it uses. With an annual energy consumption that is expected to be 85% lower than other hotels, it will harvest enough solar power to cover all on-site energy needs, including the energy required for construction.

Learn more about the Svart hotel here.

Pavegen Systems uses steps to generate energy

Pavegen’s award-winning smart street pathway converts the kinetic energy of people’s footsteps into electrical energy and data. One footstep produces enough energy to light an LED light bulb for approximately 20 seconds.

The company aims to build awareness and help create highly engaging consumer experiences, while educating and inspiring stakeholders in the hope that, eventually, footsteps could power whole cities.

Learn more about Pavegen here.

Baby steps towards sustainability

As inspiring as these sustainable engineering projects are, they require big budgets and ambitious clients. Sometimes the best way to become more sustainable is through a series of smaller changes to the way we run our offices and source materials.

To help you think about how your firm can “go green” we’ve created a handy summary for you to download.

Transform your engineering firm with these 5 emerging technologies

There’s a skills crisis looming that is not a product of poor training, but rather a symptom of the relentless march of technological innovation. 

Half of the business leaders who responded to the 2019 PWC Fourth Industrial Revolution survey expressed a concern about future job losses – with 55 percent of respondents saying that the biggest impact of this skills shortage on business is the “inability to innovate effectively.”

The impact of technological advancement is shortening the shelf-life of existing employee skills. While this reality can be disturbing, the emerging technologies driving these skills shortage are exciting and demand that engineering firms adopt a new mindset to embrace these changes.

These technologies also have the power to transform the current workplace into the digital offices of tomorrow that encourage levels of collaboration that we have never experienced before. This approach can also unlock new workstyles that can solve the biggest problems we face today.

These five emerging technologies are particularly beneficial in the engineering space:

  • Digital twins

Virtual models can be used to adapt or construct buildings and even whole urban infrastructures and cities to arrive at unique solutions. Digital twins are an important tool to reshape our urban spaces to drive down carbon emissions, while boosting economic efficiency.

Ernst and Young also reported digital twins can reduce carbon emissions in urban areas by between 50 to 100 percent, reduce operating costs for building asset owners by 35 percent and boost productivity by 20 percent.

Six steps to create a digital twin:

  • Equip your project/asset with IoT sensors to measure inputs and outputs
  • Connect the IoT sensors to a digital platform
  • Organise the collected data and prepare data sets for analysis 
  • Visualise the data with iterative models
  • Transfer to a 3D model or overview dashboard to inform decision making
  • Implement this data-guided decision in the physical world
  • Edge computing

Processing data close to the source and only sending the results to the cloud cuts down on storage costs and speeds up processes. Centralised cloud computing has yielded amazing products, including unlimited data storage and connected apps, but the security risks and a reliance on data connectivity has limited its use in high-security environments.

Edge computing provides shorter response times, lower bandwidth costs, and more robust data safety and privacy protection than cloud computing. 

What is edge computing? It moves compute power to the edge of where your local network meets the internet. This infrastructure is more robust and reliable and keeps data costs low by only utilising the connection when offloading the processed data to external storage.

Networking speed is also improved through local and peer-to-peer communication, which is a central component of the Internet of Things. In the future all the machine-to-machine communication that underpins autonomous driving will demonstrate the full potential of edge computing.   

 

  • Blockchain 

Cryptographic distributed ledgers create a digital log with a permanent record and can track assets. With blockchain contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision. 

With an internal blockchain every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. Individuals, organisations, machines, and algorithms can freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.

Three important advantages of an internal blockchain: 

  • Confidentiality can be incorporated in a private blockchain by encrypting the data on a chain.
  • Multichain tokenisation allows you to anchor the value of a transaction and you can link multiple chains 
  • Private blockchain can provide authenticated and notarised messaging services. 


  • Artificial Intelligence

AI can process large data sets in a short time and, through machine learning techniques, automate certain processes. The complementary nature of on-device machine learning and edge computing means that future IoT systems can operate semi-autonomously within defined parameters, freeing up human capital and compute power for other tasks. 

Applying AI to design can also speed up that phase of the work without resorting to copying and pasting templates. AI can dynamically place standard objects/features and suggest alterations in response to data from a digital twin.

 

  • Augmented Reality

The ability to overlay additional data or information on top of the real world will help visualise data in new and innovative ways. Technically digital twins can be described as augmented reality because the models you can design are tied to a real-world object. 

The metaverse may be the hot topic now but, outside of communications and entertainment applications, the concept of VR in the engineering workspace is not ideal. AR on the other hand combines all the strengths of VR, but doesn’t require you to depart from the meat space.

Ensure your firm is equipped to support innovation projects

While your firm is enhancing its solutions and gearing towards future-focused engineering solutions, it needs in-house software, including for project management, that supports this kind of innovation and forward thinking.

This workbook contains questions and prompts to help you brainstorm how you can use emerging tech to transform your processes. 

Download our innovation prompter by filling out the form below: 

 

 

All projects have their challenges and that will never change, but the sense of dread and déjà vu when a carefully executed plan goes off the rails can (and should) be avoided. If you find your team facing the same hurdles repeatedly, it might be because you have inefficiencies baked into your engineering workflow and that there’s a problem that needs to be solved.

Fortunately, with the right tools, people and processes in place, you can overcome these problems.

Here’s a look at six common project management challenges that tend to crop up in engineering firms and how you can tackle them:

  1. Complex collaboration

The engineering phase is a living, interdependent ecosystem of contractors and consultants who all need to prepare a path to success across multiple disciplines. One late drawing or overlooked amendment can cause major delays and have unexpected consequences.

Solution: Gain visibility into these dependencies early and communicate them to all stakeholders by deploying a single system that shares regular progress reports with all parties.

 

  1. Non-standard documents

Contractors all have their own unique processes and cultures, often operating on incompatible systems. Shared administrative culture can resolve many problems, and simply creating document templates can reduce the need for rework. They can be re-used across multiple projects and will improve the consistency of reporting.

Solution: Establish a database of document templates and distribute them to all contractors or firms working on the project.

 

  1. Poor auditing

Does your firm perform a thorough delay analysis every time a project is bottlenecked? If not, this might be part of the problem. A comprehensive document history and audit trail creates a culture of accountability and transparency. These audit trails can also be reviewed to streamline the project management process in future.

Solution: Establish a consistent paper trail for every decision and progress update. Project management software allows you to capture these paper trails digitally with a detailed timeline that cannot be tampered with.

 

  1. Missed cost savings opportunities

Open communication allows for the exchange of ideas that could unlock potential cost-saving opportunities. If everyone has the same overview of the project, then they can use their experience to suggest alternative methods or materials to complete a task more efficiently. A key component of this communication is having a team that is working from the same, correct information in real time.

Solution: A central, digital project plan (with the relevant details for each stakeholder) gives everyone an up-to-date view of the latest project details and progress, making it easier to spot cost saving opportunities.

 

  1. Poor relationship management

Establishing a clear communication strategy for each stage of the project is crucial to creating an efficient working relationship with project collaborators and, importantly, with your clients. That communications strategy is in place to serve relevant information to the intended recipient when they need it.

Solution: Give your client an overview of the project status and regular updates on any possible opportunities. A system that allows you to create a custom dashboard can speed up client approvals by giving them a space to submit job requests and view the project status.

 

  1. Unproductive conflict

The occasional dose of workplace tension often proves that those involved are passionate about doing the best job possible. Having a central open communications channel where stakeholders and collaborators can share ideas and voice their grievances enables you to channel that passion into a constructive debate or discourse, having a positive effect on the project.

Solution: Establish a project-specific communications channel alongside the project management process that is hierarchy free and allows the exchange of ideas.

 

The above challenges are nearly universal across engineering projects and can even manifest within well-functioning teams. A digital project management platform like Deltek Vantagepoint is a valuable resource to help keep the project management train on the rails.

Download this free guide to see all the ways that Deltek Vantagepoint can unlock productivity in your workflow.

The engineer of the future will be someone who has global knowledge; a passion for pursuing sustainability in innovation; a pioneering mindset when it comes to technology and the ability to work remotely.

They will be someone who can revolutionise cities to make them more environmentally and population friendly; someone who is able to improve the way we travel, who has the expertise to solve biomedical and chemical-related health concerns or is able to work cohesively with new software in order to further innovate.

As the world increasingly pursues technological innovation, the engineering industry will play an exciting role in solving the problems of today and bringing the future to life. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen how businesses have needed to pivot, innovate and redefine themselves in order to keep up. And as we move out of 2021, we have seen a surge in adoption of new technologies across industries.

As an engineering firm, how do you feel about digital transformation? Are your people ready to embrace innovation? Before you feel too overwhelmed, here are three simple areas you can focus on when it comes to adopting new technologies into your firm:

1. Keep your eyes on the client

Look out for systems and digital tools that help you optimise the entire customer journey and enable your team to provide the best customer support.

2. Change up your management system

Get rid of your old processes of using siloed systems to manage your operations and invest in an integrated digital tool.

3. Embrace a variety of technologies

The most successful companies will have a full suite of technology in their back-pocket – from digital management systems, to robotics, to cutting-edge analytics.

Want to know about what to expect for engineering in the future?

Download our insightful infographic, A Glimpse into Success for Engineering Firms in 2022 and Beyond, to ensure your firm is staying ahead of the game.

 

 

Each year, Deltek conducts a survey of firms in the architecture and engineering industry to identify the key performance indicators, market conditions, and industry trends. Conducted for the last 42 years, the Study is developed in collaboration with industry organisations across the globe.

We have created an insightful infographic that gives an overview of the annual architecture and engineering industry study, highlighting important trends in EMEA and APAC.

The key takeaway from the study is around the business impact of the pandemic on architecture and engineering firms, and research suggests that “a solid digital foundation [will] enable organisations to adapt more quickly to changing business conditions”. This infographic also highlights important questions and strategies that engineering firms need to consider throughout their digital transformation journey.

For example, there are five questions industry leaders should ask themselves to identify where they need to lay the groundwork for their transformation;

  1. What was the impact of the pandemic on our operations and revenue?
  2. What are some of the technologies that we need to help us differentiate?
  3. How were our projects impacted by the pandemic?
  4. What are our biggest concerns with developing new business, and how can technology help?
  5. How are our finance leaders measuring success and enabling our businesses to move forward?

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Each year, Deltek conducts a survey of firms in the architecture and engineering industry to identify the key performance indicators, market conditions, and industry trends. Conducted for the last 41 years, the Study is developed in collaboration with industry organisations in the United States and Canada.

The Study collected responses on emerging technology trends, financial statements, business development, project management, and human capital management. The survey was developed in partnership with CMG Consulting and was fielded from January 21, 202 through March 23, 2020. Responses were collected from more than 415 companies in the architecture and engineering industry.

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