The Perks of Partnership

by | May 24, 2019

At the end of the day, a successful design-build project comes down to working alongside people you can trust as true partners. Whether considering technical innovations, nailing down costs, or exploring creative delivery solutions, it’s essential that all players work together to achieve the project’s end goal.

Large or small, modern water and wastewater projects are anything but “cookie cutter” in nature. Projects involving upgrades and/or expansions to aging facilities present challenges in how to ensure uninterrupted operation of the facility during construction and integration of new technology and processes into existing plant systems.

Due to their scale and complexity, water and wastewater projects require careful planning and coordination. Collaborative-delivery methods that involve technology suppliers in the early phases of project design and development can be an excellent solution.

Better Project Delivery

Involving technology suppliers early in the design-build process encourages collaboration and helps establish long-term partnerships, which can foster innovation because everyone is working toward a common goal. Technology suppliers can offer added value to the customer by serving as subject matter experts and providing input into a proposed design where innovative solutions are encouraged. Tapping into this collective expertise helps the whole project team navigate an increasingly complex set of solutions and technologies.

By drawing on their previous experience, technology suppliers can lend a unique perspective to overcome challenges and help bring water and wastewater projects to completion efficiently and safely. What’s more, working with technology suppliers early on facilitates the planning and design process and provides opportunities to reduce construction costs, optimize schedules, and add value to the utility.

Most engineers and contractors who have done collaborative-delivery projects understand and appreciate the value that a technology supplier can bring to a project. And considering the resources and the breadth of offerings that many major technology suppliers have in their portfolio, early collaboration contributes to a more successful project.

Engineers and contractors who partner with technology suppliers early in a project are better able to streamline design and construction through a more efficient design process and effective project management. This partnership provides the team opportunities to find unique integration that can reduce both cost and schedule, while also giving the utility value through reduced operating costs, increased uptime, or both. As a result, they are less likely to encounter design pitfalls or constructability issues. Avoiding redundancies in controls and field-service support reduces unnecessary risk and significantly contributes to economic savings.

Streamline Communication

Establishing systems to ensure an open flow of accurate and timely information can be a major challenge, so many design-build teams involved in collaborative-delivery projects are turning to technology for help. By aligning all team players with a single voice for technology solutions, firms can work smarter, work faster, and maximize value throughout every step of the design-build process.

Working with technology providers that have a wide array of solutions and consolidating that communication through a single project manager eliminates redundancies in project design and execution. It also creates a closer partnership since more engagement is required from all parties to make sure the entire project (not just one siloed portion of it) is staying on or ahead of schedule. Finally, it creates a commitment from the technology provider that should any challenges arise (and we all know they eventually do on every project), the solution to the challenge will rise above just “pushing the challenge downstream into someone else’s scope” to ensuring the challenge is solved once and for all.

Streamlining communication goes beyond just creating accessibility through a single project manager during design and execution. It also stems from having a high level of connected technologies that can integrate with one another to optimize performance while seeking opportunities to reduce operational costs. This is where a partnership with a technology supplier with a wide array technologies—both data- and control-driven technologies that have demonstrated integration—really provides the entire partnership a benefit in being able to show the utility operational savings.

The critical nature of water and wastewater infrastructure emphasizes the need for experienced design and construction teams to deliver projects on time and within budget. With more upfront planning and communication between job team members, the risk of errors and the need for costly workarounds can be reduced. Developing a partnership with a technology supplier that has a wide array of solutions and provides a single voice through a dedicated project manager can deliver on that promise. Furthermore, technology suppliers that have highly connected and integrated solutions can demonstrate lower operational costs to their utility partners.  All of this translates into a more successful construction experience for everyone involved.

Kevin Flis, Business Development Manager, Xylem Inc.

Kevin Flis, business development manager for Xylem Inc., has worked in the water and wastewater industry for more than 11 years in roles including operations, project management, application engineering, up-front project engineering, project design, and market development. He holds a BS in chemical engineering from Iowa State University. Working within the water utilities business at Xylem, Flis focuses on optimizing value for Xylem’s partners by developing integrated technology solutions for collaborative delivery projects.