In brief

In brief

  • Building Information Model (BIM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) are enabling digitization of infrastructure information management in T&D.
  • BIM and PLM allow utilities to execute programs at a higher quality and lower cost, boost productivity, and retain their workforces.
  • The complementary strengths of BIM and PLM mean deploying them together yields the biggest benefits.
  • Going forward, the data pipeline created by BIM and PLM can enable powerful capabilities like digital twin and digitally connected worker.

The collaboration challenge for transmission and distribution (T&D) businesses

Flat electricity demand. Rising operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Intensifying regulatory scrutiny. These forces and more are causing T&D utilities to seek new ways to manage O&M growth. They’re also grappling with rising distributed generation, increasing customer expectations and the proliferation of renewable sources—plus a generational change in their workforce.

Against this background, power distribution projects are becoming ever more complex. As a result, utilities need an end-to-end collaboration environment for design and construction. But their design models and data are mostly stranded in silos, unable to deliver their full potential as interactive resources.

To break out of this logjam, electric T&D utilities need collaborative project delivery, based on a set of coherent technology-enabled processes integrated across all project participants. The place to start is with Building Information Model (BIM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

The opportunities presented by BIM and PLM

Pioneered in facilities management, BIM is built around design authoring capabilities that facilitate collaborative workflows, supplemented with project management tools and digital worker solutions. By integrating these components, utilities can create connected workflows between project participants, better designs, and more informed project management.

PLM is a technology-enabled way of managing products through the stages of their life cycles, from concept through retirement. It’s been adopted readily by high-tech manufacturers—and has huge potential for T&D utilities. Why? Because utilities and high-tech manufacturers share similar capability needs—designing and building assets using standard parts and components, leveraging established sourcing relationships, and maintaining end-assets in the field.

The optimal solution: Implement BIM and PLM together

On their own, both BIM and PLM offer T&D utilities significant benefits. But implementing them together creates a transformational, integrated solution that acts as the core of end-of-end collaborative project delivery and asset management. PLM can manage the standard parts, assemblies, component designs, complete template designs and final full designs of constructed assets. And BIM can serve as the environment of authoring, analysis, visualization and coordination tools for in-process projects.

This is a generic BIM and PLM System Map listing the important elements for each

Generic BIM & PLM System Map

Conclusion: Time to embark on the journey

BIM and PLM represent the future of collaborative design and construction for T&D utilities—enabling them to transform how they deliver and manage infrastructure and collaborate with their partners.

Together, BIM and PLM enable the efficiency and process improvement that utilities have been seeking for decades—and deliver these with tried-and-tested methodologies and software. What’s more, once in place they provide the basis for groundbreaking capabilities in the O&M phase like digital twin and digitally-connected worker.

Across the world, more and more forward-thinking T&D utilities are embarking on their BIM and PLM journey. Isn’t it time you joined them?

About the Authors

Matthew Thomas

Managing Director, Lead – Industry X.0 Engineering, North America

Mirko Stock

Managing Director – Industry X, Capital Projects Client Engagement Global Lead

Jason Ames

North America, Lead – Digital Capital Project Services

Brent Smolarek

Industry X.0 Manager


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