Early in the Fall of 2018, Mike Arrigo and some members of his team at Bluewater Energy, based in Acworth Georgia, were looking for a Cx app for their system turnover packages and project reporting. They were introduced to a web application dubbed SPM, short for Startup Project Metrics. The SPM app was built for AEP using the Adesso engine to automate and ultimately replace manually-intensive and complex spreadsheets they used to use for tracking device completions at their power plant startup projects. Here’s some info about that particular app, which was designed and built by Terraine a few years ago.
A few meetings and discussions eventually led to a partnership/collaboration and the development of the Bluewater Cx application, built using the XForms platform.
So…why did Bluewater decide to use a brand new, untested technology like XForms instead of choosing an established commissioning software tool like CxAlloy or FacilityGrid? Here are 4 reasons:
1 – Experience developing commissioning apps for utilities
We cut our teeth developing the commissioning software application that was used by Duke Energy to commissioning their Edwardsport Indiana 618 megawatt IGCC power plant. At its peak, Duke had 60 commissioning field techs concurrently performing completions on over 60,000 devices using software we developed that was deployed on ruggedized tablets in offline mode. Not a single piece of paper was generated during that project (saving over 500K sheets of paper), and % complete data was available every morning for the work conducted the day prior, after all the devices were synced with the server and recharged for the next day’s work. Percent complete calculations with 2 decimal place accuracy were provided automatically each day, from top-level project metrics, down to startup codes and engineering areas, and with drill down capability down to an individual device. Additionally, partial % complete weights were given to different aspects of a form. So for example, when someone completed a motor megger, that device was assigned a % complete value of 40%, even though the remaining tests were not yet completed.
All of this experience gave us some appreciation of the complexity needed to handle % complete calculations automatically, as the platform used for the Duke Energy project—Adesso—did not have this feature, meaning that it had to be added manually as a complex algorithm that touched on many different components of the system.
A few years later, AEP contracted us to develop the SPM app mentioned above. And now we are applying that knowledge into the core of the XForms platform.
2 – The software is easy to use
Developed by the same software architect that developed Adesso, the XForms platform has some pretty cool features like drawing on top of pictures, Excel-like table grids, and automatic % complete calculations, all of which are super simple to use and don’t require any training at all. And it just works, on all platforms and form factors.
A few demonstrations of the software in action, on different device types and operating systems showed Mike and his team what was possible. And since they would be getting involved with us in the early stages of the development of XForms for Cx, they would have a lot of influence as to the direction of the software for Cx workflows, its behavior, features, and user interface.
3 – Timing was right
Bluewater had outgrown their Microsoft Access-based system, which even in 2019 is light years ahead of most Cx services firms that are still using paper forms. While Bluewater’s MS Access system is far superior than paper processes, a lot of tasks were not fully automated or straightforward, included the following:
- Data sharing means sharing MS Access mdb and Excel files via email, sometimes leading to confusion as to which file is the most up to date, not to mention the learning curve required for understanding and using Microsoft Access without inadvertently causing data losses.
- Designing a Cx form, and then assigning different forms—one by one—to each device is time-consuming.
- Producing % complete calculations requires several complex Excel spreadsheets, each with multiple worksheets. Maintaining the calculation formulas and cell ranges intact and error-free can be difficult and time-consuming.
- Even with MS Access, all field data is still collected on paper forms, which are then scanned as PDFs, rendering them as basically unintelligent images (instead of actionable digital data).
While using Microsoft Access is lightyears ahead of using paper, Bluewater hit some limits with their MS Access system and were in the hunt for a better solution that would take them to the next level.
4 – Designing a product that works the way they work, and not the other way around
Off-the-shelf products are great when your workflow can be modified to fit into the software’s workflow. But what happens if your particular workflow doesn’t quite fit with the software designer’s idea of how things should be done?
By being involved early-on in the development of the XForms platform, Bluewater—among the best commissioning services companies in the utilities and energy industries—could influence the platform direction, and ensure that their end product would work the way they work, and not the way some software developers with little to no Cx experience think it should work.
Each project requires some level of initial setup. The Bluewater project manager or admin sets up the project by either cloning an existing project or starting one from scratch. If starting from scratch, they will first establish the project hierarchy (i.e., their system codes and device types), assign form templates to these, and then assign devices to these. After adding users to the system and setting their permission levels, the software is ready to go: field techs can be deployed to the project to conduct their commissioning work.
Field data capture on any device type
Bluewater field techs can use any device type and form factor for field capture. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, and everything in between. iOS, Android, Windows, or web. Practically disposable Kindle Fire tablets, intrinsically-safe military-spec ruggedized tablets and/or Toughbooks®, iPads, etc.
The system is designed so that the commissioning field techs can call up a device, and all the required blank forms for that device will appear. As the field tech completes each form, % complete is automatically assigned to that device. This calculation is dependent on the state of the form (not started, saved as draft, submitted) as well as the number of forms assigned to that device. If the project manager or admin optionally set weights to the forms, these values would also be used in the % complete calculations. Some information about XForm’s % complete calculations is discussed here.
Find out if they are falling behind schedule with a few clicks
On the reporting dashboard side, key Bluewater stakeholders can quickly view progress on their Cx project and compare that to various schedules, including walk down and turnover schedules. Drilldown capability means they can look at the project as a whole, view % complete for a particular system, and drill down even further to see—for example—% complete for mechanical pumps in a particular system. Bluewater can also opt to share some of this information with their clients, enabling transparency and data sharing.
When a system is 100% commissioned, Bluewater can generate the turnover package with a few clicks. The system will sort all the completed forms for that system and stitch them together into a single PDF.
An exciting 2019!
We are excited to be working with one of the best commissioning services companies in America on their mission critical Cx application and are honored that they have selected us for this important task.
About Bluewater Energy Inc.
Bluewater Energy was founded in 2003 as a professional and dependable focused technical services company to support the growing needs in the power, industrial, and oil/gas marketplace, from facility or program conception, startup & commissioning, to long term operation. Many in the industry know them as “Bluewater,” the startup & commissioning group.
For more information about Bluewater, contact: