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KIRSTIN GRAVES GRAIL earned special praise for its ease of use. “One of the main principles we have followed in development was to make the software as user-friendly as possible,” she says. “You don’t need to be a GIS expert to use this system.” Traditionally, network design has been both laborious and labourintensive, requiring designers to do a lot of work manually and draw the same design many times over. “There is the map of where the fibre is to be laid, a diagram showing how all the sections of fibre will be jointed, the Resource Management Act plan, the Fibre Optic Grid plan and the cabinet plan amongst others,” explains Graves. “Since the software came into use, Network Designer performance has increased significantly, allowing acceleration of the UFB programme as a whole” notes Graves. “Designers had to reproduce the designs in multiple schematic formats, but GRAIL avoids this by creating all of the additional plans from the data that had been input to develop the original design. We now have efficiencies in that people are doing the design only once, and making any required changes only once.” And there’s more: “The other really neat part is that, in the past, designers would have to sit down with their design and list every single product needed to build the network – from the length of fibre to every connector and cable fastener,” says Graves. Special Achievement in GIS Esri International Conference, San Diego 2013 Awarded to Downer NZ STORY B Y STEVE HART “GRAIL automatically produces a list of all the equipment needed. And it does the same for the civil quantity reports as well. It is so much more accurate – which also has flow-on efficiency savings for the Logistics and Build teams.” GRAIL is bringing about a step-change in Downer’s work-flow processes. It is about to be integrated with Downer’s mobile field technology solution Eagle Eye, and plans are in hand to have it ‘talk’ to Downer’s logistics software, which orders the necessary parts. Beta testing is also underway for a mobile app that designers take with them on site. “They will be able to use their tablet or smart phone to enter details of what plant is at any location,” says Graves. “For example, they can record that there is a Chorus cabinet, poles and pillars – and that information feeds straight into GRAIL. When the designer gets back to the office, all the information is in the system, ready for when they start designing.” With the commercial success of GRAIL, it seems reasonable to ask why other companies have not developed similar programmes. “It probably has something to do with the scale of upfront investment, both in terms of time and money,” suggests Graves. And that means another potential gain for Downer: the possibility of licensing its proprietary software to other firms around the world, looking for better business solutions. DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE / 41


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