Integrating 3D Images into the Project and Asset Management Phases
The general public often doesn’t understand just how complex managing water utilities can be. But Northumbrian Water in the United Kingdom knows the challenges firsthand and looks to the latest technologies to refine the management and delivery of services. The organization’s vision is to be the national leader in the provision of sustainable water and wastewater services.
The company maintains a vast number of clean and wastewater assets and their associated processes. For new assets following the digital construction (BIM) route, Northumbrian creates 3D designs using Autodesk Revit. This approach allows data and information to be associated with the 3D model within the asset management environment, meaning the user can use either the graphic or text to interact with the asset management system.
Building on the success of this process, the Northumbrian team also wanted to apply it to their legacy assets and bring them into their asset management software based on IBM Maximo. Northumbrian investigated the creation of 3D models, but due to the volume, time, and cost of creating these models, it was quickly discounted. Northumbrian also investigated a process called photogrammetry, where 3D models are created from 2D photography, but the images were “lacking in resolution and could be time-consuming if reworking of the final image was needed,” says BIM Manager Mike Overy.
“I was at an innovation festival,” Overy says, “and one of our partners demonstrated the Matterport camera and I thought, this is exactly what we want.”
Matterport Pro2 cameras capture in 3D with much higher resolution than what is possible with photogrammetry. Additionally, they accurately capture spatial data, supporting traditional measuring tools. People can use them after just a few minutes of training. But first, Northumbrian needed to connect Matterport with IBM Maximo.
Northumbrian collaborated with Sitedesk, a company specializing in 3D visualization and management of digital building information, to integrate Matterport scans into the Maximo system using the Matterport 3D Showcase SDK. “It's going to be very good for Matterport,” Overy says, “and it's going to be good for Sitedesk. It's a fantastic piece of collaboration.”
Advanced Asset Management
Managing assets effectively is a long-standing issue within many industries, not just the water industry.
Linking the information held within the asset management system to a high-resolution image allows a much better understanding of the geospatial context,” Overy says. “It will allow for more planning of activities—for example, projects and maintenance.”
Matterport has been especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic when site visits can be severely restricted. Understanding the layout prior to visiting a site reduces repeat visits and accommodates the new way of working during the pandemic as virtual site meetings can be held using Microsoft Teams, reducing the need for physical contact. Additionally, Matterport will ensure that Northumbrian has the right information tagged against each asset.
A Unified Facility View
Northumbrian Water invests $250–300 million a year refurbishing and creating new water management and delivery systems. Matterport coupled with Sitedesk allows the visualization and linking of the assets, which offers the efficiency and effectiveness Northumbrian requires. Also, Overy explains, “As basic measurements can be taken from this imagery, the ability to achieve more accurate budgetary information is possible.”
Northumbrian also uses telemetry and software called SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) to automate some of its asset management with sensors that send alerts if problems arise. With the integration of Matterport and SiteDesk, managers can, in the future, quickly pull up assets in 3D on their computers and retrieve critical information like model numbers, installation dates, acquisition costs, and maintenance schedules to address issues.
“My biggest headache was actually getting these legacy assets into the modern era,” Overy says, “and Matterport appears to be the perfect vehicle for doing that.”