Digitalization in Industrial Plant Engineering: 5 Questions for Heinz Pichler
As an INSITE IT customer from the very beginning, Heinz Pichler rolled out Insite LMS as a plant engineering solution in his projects very early on - worldwide and with lasting success.
At a very early stage, Heinz Pichler, Vice President Global Site Operations at ANDRITZ Hydro GmbH, recognized and exploited the opportunities offered by digitalization for hydropower projects. We talked to the industrial plant engineering expert about almost a decade of cooperation with INSITE IT and his experience in digitalizing large-scale projects.
1. Back in 2012, how did you come to bring Insite LMS into your company and to work on digitalizing industrial plant engineering projects with INSITE IT, a company that was still young at the time?
Heinz Pichler: This was a result of a project management seminar. I discussed a few of the problems we kept having on our construction sites with the instructor. It was always the same in our projects back then: We couldn't find parts. Our supervisors, who were supposed to be doing something else, were searching in the warehouses and in the boxes. This occupied a lot of time of expensive resources.
The seminar leader recommended a young crew that would have lots of experience in the field and a solution to our problems. " Just check them out!", he said. That was the beginning! (Heinz Pichler laughs)
Both, the team and the concept of Insite LMS, convinced me.
Over the years, the solution has consistently evolved from a logistics tool to a comprehensive construction site tool with interfaces to other systems. In short: the "One Tool at Site" at our company.
2. Digitalization projects often encounter resistance. Did you have to do a lot of convincing back then? How were you able to win over your teams?
Heinz Pichler: Yes, at the beginning the resistance was enormous! But also the amount of suffering ... The simple, structured setup of Insite LMS and the good, unbureaucratic support from the INSITE IT team were very helpful.
The successful rollout and global acceptance of Insite LMS has certainly been driven by the fact that all those who work with it on the construction site immediately benefit from it. We have always considered: What do the users on the construction site really need? Together with INSITE IT, we have developed suitable solutions for these needs. In this way, Insite LMS was refined further and further, rolled out bit by bit, and finally became an absolute self-runner.
One challenge at the beginning of the project was that we had too many ways of working for the same activities. This was because the company structure had evolved over decades and new locations had to be integrated on an ongoing basis. Each company had its own Word and Excel templates, for example. Convincing people to harmonize these documents was not easy. However, the step had been necessary for a long time and we finally succeeded.
It proved to be very healthy for the company. It saved a lot of work. Much of what previously had to be laboriously entered by hand could now be uploaded to Insite LMS and simply reused. With Insite LMS, well-structured information was thus available at all times. This made life much easier for the project teams.
Looking back, it was also important to consistently train everyone involved beyond the implementation phase. In addition, it helped to provide users with immediate support whenever needed. For all these matters, we had always received all the support we needed from INSITE IT.
3. What opportunities and what challenges does the digitalization of industrial plant engineering offer?
Heinz Pichler: As for the opportunities: Once you have taken the plunge, you benefit enormously. For example, from the simplification of the increasingly demanding administration of construction projects. With Insite LMS, the effort required for documentation is reduced to a minimum. Using existing data in daily and weekly reports is easy and saves time.
Last, but not least the solution provides the ideal basis for the creation and assertion of claims or the achievement of Extensions Of Time, or Cost Compensations. You can use it to substantiate claims easily, completely and transparently!
As for the challenges: You have to meet resistance appropriately on an ongoing basis. This requires sensitivity and perseverance. You also have to think about how much effort you want to invest in evaluating and harmonizing in advance and when you will start implementing the digitalization project.
For us, it has proven to make the most sense to spend a limited amount of time evaluating and harmonizing what is necessary in advance - but then to start the implementation quickly and to continue to develop additional areas on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, you'll never be finished.
4. After almost 10 years now: What role did Insite LMS play in your projects then and what does it play now?
Heinz Pichler: Insite LMS is fully accepted and used consistently in our projects. The solution is constantly being expanded: Logistics, warehousing, reporting, time recording as well as cash register are some of the topics we now cover with Insite LMS.
My clear conclusion after ten years is: For us, only a "One Tool at Site" approach comes into consideration, i.e., the use of a sole solution in our projects. Interfaces can then be built all around this solution. I want to have exactly one tool on the construction site, and that is Insite LMS.
5. What three tips would you give to other companies that are now considering digitalizing their construction sites?
- All I can say is: implement a digital solution better sooner than later. This saves time and resources.
- Put the users on the construction site at the center of the project.
- Rely on proven solutions from plant construction professionals. From my own experience I know: Any "modified" mega-complex tool that somehow also covers the topic of industrial plant engineering projects is exactly wrong. Insite LMS was tailor-made for construction site needs and developed in close cooperation with the users. That's ideal.
I can only say that I would do it with INSITE IT again! I see this as an extraordinarily successful collaboration.
We thank Heinz Pichler for the interview, the successful cooperation, and the many years of good cooperation!
About the Author
INSITE IT GmbH
Since the company was founded in 2012, INSITE IT GmbH has continuously become the professional partner for plant engineers. The software company with headquarters in Linz (AT) and a location in Chicago (USA) develops software solutions for materials, logistics and site management in plant engineering.