– Kerri Lee Sinclair and Ken Sinclair
Kerri Lee Sinclair, Vice President, O&M Solutions, Aconex
Lee is currently Vice President, O&M Solutions for Aconex, the
leading online document management and web collaboration system that
uses the internet to manage information for projects of all sizes in
construction, engineering and infrastructure. Part of the
company’s leadership team, she has been responsible for acquisition
integration and currently heads up a new business unit formed through a
recent acquisition in July 2012.
Kerri Lee’s previous experience includes co-founding AgentArts, a
patented, end-to-end personalization solution for entertainment content
and service providers acquired by Fast (a Microsoft subsidiary) in
2008. Other professional experience includes working for a range
of growth technology businesses including Telstra Wholesale,
Intelematics, and LookSmart, as well as global management consultancy,
McKinsey & Company.
“out of the basement” and into the cloud.
Aconex Smart Manuals, building owners can navigate to the desired
records – including floor plans; electrical, plumbing, hydraulic, and
fire systems data; photographs, and more – to review or update
information. A video demonstration of Smart Manuals is available
on the Aconex web site.
Thanks for the news that you’re
launching Aconex Smart Manuals, but let’s step back -- what is Aconex?
Aconex: Aconex is
the world’s largest online collaboration
specifically for construction, infrastructure and energy and resources
industries. We have over 10 years’ experience working with top
owners, construction and project managers, contractors, architects and
consultants on projects of all shapes and sizes. We work on
projects from early stage/feasibility, through design and into
construction, helping all participants on the project to manage
complexity, decisions and deliverables required wherever, whenever
OK, I guess Smart Manuals has something
to do with handing over that information to Operations and Facility
Aconex: Exactly. While the some
information required is often already on Aconex (as it was delivered as
part of the drawings, commissioning data or test reports) – it is
contractually required to be delivered to the Owner/Facility Manager in
an “O&M Manual”. This requires assembly, detailed review and
then compilation by (usually) the general contractor (who manages the
rest of participants) before practical completion. Aconex Smart
Manuals is about making this process easier to manage for the general
contractor, so that the Owner gets a timely, compliant, complete set of
operational information that can be used on Day One. The
information received isn’t just “a set of data”, but each asset is
tagged and the information is easily searchable via three ways:
1) geographically tagged allows you to navigate visually; 2)
super search allows you to search entire manual “ala Google”; or 3)
using a folder/directory based browse (ie just show me all of the
It is great that you help the general
contractor, but our readers are
on the other side, in Operations & Facility Management.
Can they buy Smart Manuals, and if so what do they get?
flexibility of Aconex Smart Manuals
is that it can be used as part of a new project, existing project or
for assembling/recreating O&M manuals already in
Operations. For example, we are working with one major hospital to help them take their existing O&M information
“out of the basement” and into the cloud. They have 17
buildings on a large site connected by a series of
underground tunnels that were built in the 1930s, which is part of a
major redevelopment. They need to manage approximately 3,000
critical documents and over 2,500 drawings currently stored in
the tunnels (sometimes ankle deep in water). Amazingly,
have 70% of the documents electronically, but they struggled with how
to get their IT departments to keep the documents secure, editable and
accessible forever! Aconex Smart Manuals Dynamic (a
live version of the O&M Manual) was the perfect solution for them.
Well, this is automatedbuildings.com .
. . we see our readers using a set
of different solutions with open standards and a range of devices – how
does Aconex Smart Manuals fit?
Aconex: We believe
good data in = good decisions
out. That is what all of the standards/solutions are
trying to do – whether COBIE or BIM! We see structured data
and processes around key documents and drawings is needed now to deal with the complexities (and unknowns!) we are
navigating. Let’s move one step ahead to
making this a reality, rather than waiting for something to develop.
Therefore we don’t “integrate” with any particular systems because our
customers don’t use one system (or set of systems), and it is all
evolving. However we offer either a read only (importable)
version of Smart Manuals, or Smart Manuals Dynamic is
accessible in real-time via our open API product. So
far, we have been able to deliver a solution to a customer whether they
have an in-house FM solution or use a major controls system.
how do we bale all this paper in the basement and convert it to
electronic online documents? With a manual intervention scanning
paper into pdf? Manual linking to existing web
content? Is there any way to use self-discovery or automate this
Unfortunately we cannot change reality – there will be some effort
involved to do this! In the hospital example we used
earlier, we were able to find 70% of the documents in an electronic
form, and Aconex has great “bulk upload” tools where by you just upload
the .zip or grab the files and it helps categorize the
information. Further, we have a Rapid Wizard tool
(patent pending) which we can use to help match up drawings, asset id’s
and documents which can save time. However, to repeat
myself: good data in = good decisions out. Someone needs to take
some ownership of these documents – technology
can never do that. In the hospital for example, they have
prioritized to focus on compliance documents first, and they have one
Facility Engineer who is reviewing and checking those key documents
what he knows from working on site for the last few years. Then
they plan to update/maintain as part of the ongoing preventative
maintenance procedure (for example, upon a routine check of the Air
Cooling Units, they will ensure the documentation is updated, tagged
and current). The benefit of this is taking some of the accrued
knowledge from the team on the ground, and keeping it in the facility,
which we believe helps manage the facility
better in the future (lowering the impact of employee churn).
you comment on some of our first articles 1999 when I was struggling
with baling paper? Note; pdf was just being invented…..smile
and expand on this comment and update
us as how this is likely to play out.
of the traditional building O&M documentation for the project will
be requested in HTML form and weaved into an interactive internal web
site with connection to vendors and manufacturers’ internet sites and
Aconex: To be
honest, I wish we saw more HTML O&M Manuals! Across our global
footprint, we are yet to see a contractor who has delivered this to a
client – they are still defaulting to DVD with local links.
Why? Because general contractors, subcontractor & consulting
engineers aren’t web designers or have IT departments who can handle
HTML has other weaknesses:
- Cannot capture meta data.
There are multiple asset/document relationships (ie the luminaire
schedule may have 203 lights which use the same manual/photo) and
multiple documents/ single assets (an Air Cooling Unit will have a
series of documents to link to). Structuring the HTML and making
the multiple connections is very confusing and prone to error, not to
mention lots of work.
- Changing information.
If any information is moved or updated on the server, the HTML link may
break. So even though the information is there, you cannot find
- Increasing storage
On average across all Aconex projects, we see approximately 4,000
documents/drawings in O&M Manuals taking up approximately 8Gb of
storage. This is only going to increase as more quality
information is captured.
Cross site scripting issues are making HTML increasing vulnerable to
- Outside of process.
Doing anything outside what their current platform is difficult and the
process likely undefined. Anything you can do while they are “in
the moment”, doing what they already have to do, will increase the
likelihood of a better outcome.
of trying in the past to sort this mess out. How will Aconex be
different? An example below and there are many more on our web site.
Aconex isn’t new -- we have been changing how the industry designs and
builds its capital projects since 2000, now having supported more than
300,000 users on a total of $700 billion worth of projects across the
world. If we had walked out in 2000 and said “use collaboration
and the internet to build your O&M manuals”, the industry would have
dismissed it. Today, collaboration platforms are now used on most
new major capital projects, and therefore our commitment to the
industry and innovation needs to continue to fix what is clearly
broken. If we only do that for our current clients and
projects, that is still good! However we believe our experience,
track record and unique solution is the reason we will make this work.
1999 we were both commuting to SF, you from Australia with
LookSmart, a search engine company, and me with Sinclair Energy Services
from Canada. There has been a few changes in the industry since then
but I am amazed that the core of internet business has not changed that
much. Do you agree or have you seen great change? What are your
Guess it depends what you mean by “core of internet business”. If
you consider that what Tim Berners-Lee created, then you are correct,
it hasn’t changed much. However, I am amazed how much the
internet business has changed in the last 15 years. The
early internet was very social, engaging people and communities via
rudimentary devices (do you remember how excited I was with my Psion
Revo?). Data was very expensive and moving it around was
difficult. The costs and infrastructure have improved, and now
that social/community aspect is changing how people build physical
(real life) structures. I never would have expected that would
happen in a decade! Many people now expect they can access
building data and capture defects on their iPad, for example. We
have specialized contractors in regional US who are providing custom
aquariums designs to major projects in Asia without leaving the
county. I used to think getting an email out of the office was
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