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How standardization of visual collaboration in large project teams saves time and money

How standardization of visual collaboration in large project teams saves time and money

Engineering is a complex process and Arup, the global consulting firm, needed a way to bring their resources together. They wanted to use digital tools and drawings in their collaboration sessions to improve decision-making and discussions around complex construction challenges.

Arup’s mission is to help clients solve large, complex construction challenges by harnessing its diverse skills to constantly expand what is technically possible. Arup operates in an industry that is changing fast. Innovative, advanced design and construction techniques that only a few years ago were not even envisioned are now routinely deployed.

As with most industries, increasing digitalisation enables new ways of working, and Arup has embraced the latest technologies. The company has a need to demonstrate to clients how their concepts and designs will look, which includes viewing plans and graphics in considerable detail. Close liaison is essential, not just with clients but also between Arup’s many employees whose skills encompass a range of complementary disciplines. Effective collaboration allows the expertise of each member of Arup’s multidisciplinary project teams to be combined for better decision-making.

The Challenge: Enabling Interactive Visual Collaboration for Large Multidisciplinary Teams

Arup frequently employs large project teams which often include participants – both clients and Arup staff – from across the globe. These require large meeting room spaces and displays in order to collaborate effectively. Arup has around 400 video-enabled meeting rooms across its various offices and understands how vital it is to effectively connect their disparate employees and clients.

The extensive requirements for successful team collaboration, as well as productive client engagement, meant Arup had difficulty finding the right solutions. This was particularly true for the larger spaces that are more complex to design from a collaboration perspective. Several bespoke solutions were considered; however, most were expensive and not easily scalable to the size of room and specific meeting requirements. Arup was looking for something that the company could replicate across its offices, whilst being easy to manage and support.

Maximizing Use of Space at Arup

Many of the company’s larger meeting spaces are multipurpose and are used for “town hall” type events. In addition, they can be used for specific meeting, presentation, and application-centric needs, such as for Building Information Modelling (BIM). BIM is a process which involves the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places; and which is increasingly gaining momentum.

While Arup’s small and medium-size rooms were working well, a staff satisfaction survey highlighted users were becoming frustrated with the lack of ability to hold larger meetings and presentations involving many people.

An assessment of the requirements for large meeting spaces revealed the need to showcase projects successfully to clients, as well as enable inter-company collaboration on a large scale. This included the use of sophisticated software applications and allowing extensive and detailed sharing of data, to facilitate the complex decision-making to drive projects forward.

The solution: driving standardization to improve productivity

Large, collaborative meetings typically have complex requirements, such as the need for divisible rooms, appropriate ceiling height, lighting and acoustic considerations, in addition to both aesthetics and technical functionality. Like many organizations, Arup recognized that standardizing on technology across offices makes collaboration easier and saves time and money. Using a range of different solutions meant that users were having to spend time learning how to operate each particular room before each meeting. This was slowing down the collaboration process and impacting meeting efficiency.

Standardization was a particularly attractive goal because it would allow ease of use by providing a consistent user experience and centralized IT support. A control and management system managed through a centralized server and a standardized intuitive user interface, were fulfilling Arup’s most important needs.

Embracing Industry Innovation at Arup’s Boston Office

Arup is a leader in the use of the latest, most sophisticated technologies  to deliver the complex and innovative engineering projects for their clients. The company uses BIM applications, best viewed in a large format using several sources of content where users can drill down and consider multiple perspectives simultaneously. This includes the need to display high-quality images in interactive collaboration sessions between Arup teams and clients.

The existing solutions within Arup’s Boston office could not appropriately meet such needs. As a result, Arup began to evaluate its options to upgrade the facilities. However, attempts to scope a solution addressing most of the basic needs proved difficult for a variety of reasons. This included the ability to provide a large enough, seamless display with full in-room viewing capability and sufficient resolution. Cyviz demonstrated its capabilities to scale content dynamically to ensure visibility for all meeting participants in the room, which was exactly what Arup needed. The standardized turnkey solution Cyviz proposed consisted of three projectors, blended to create one large seamless image.

The Cyviz technology allows several content sources from various feeds to be displayed on a screen at the same time, together with video-conferencing. For example, during a collaboration session, a project drawing can be displayed in one single pane, a timeline for the project in another and information about the contractors in another. A user can move easily from one window to the next, stretching the image and zooming in at the touch of a button without having to manage different feeds. The set up renders itself perfectly for multidisciplinary teams with participants from different departments and bringing their specific views to the table.

Arup particularly liked the fact that Cyviz offered standardized technology to complement systems already deployed.  Arup clients can connect seamlessly from the technology of choice, and the system can be fully supported by Arup without using third parties. All this, and the fact that Cyviz provides sophisticated yet easy-to-use technology that works straight out-of-the box, helped make the decision to adopt Cyviz for Arup’s Boston office.

Users Delighted with Results

The Cyviz solution is now running effectively in Arup’s Boston office. Users are delighted with the ease of use and high-quality, flexible visual experience, especially the ability to view multiple images simultaneously. As the graphical user interface remains the same for each office, changes can be made to accommodate the specific requirements of each meeting, while still providing a ‘plug and play’ experience. The economies of scale the system provides reduces overall costs, and because only a simple software update rather than reprogramming is needed, the total cost of ownership is much lower. Based on the Cyviz solution architecture, Arup internal IT is also able manage a larger part of the support themselves, providing further savings.

The results have been outstanding. Users cite ease of use including simple operation of the rooms, easy to join or initiate meetings and the consistency of the user experience, as well as the ability to see multiple content sources simultaneously as the main benefits. Finally, superior video and audio quality means traveling to customer sites or between offices is much reduced, saving time and money as well as reducing Arup’s carbon footprint.