The Introduction of a Hand-Held Platform in an Engineering and Fabrication Company

The Introduction of a Hand-Held Platform in an Engineering and Fabrication Company

Irene Lorentzen Hepsø, Anders Rindal, Kristian Waldal
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2002-5.ch015
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Fabricom is currently looking for ways to improve their collaborative capabilities. They have assessed hand-held devices as means to increase efficiency and availability throughout the organization. This chapter focuses on the organization Fabricom, and seeks to uncover which capabilities lie within the hand-held devices, and what kind of effects the implementation of such devices could have on Fabricom’s work processes. Through an abductive approach, based on observations, semi-structured interviews and document analysis, the authors focus their attention on the work-flow and communication practices in Fabricom. These findings are viewed in light of structuration and practice theory, supported by aspects from actor-network theory. Findings lead to the notion that the implementation of a hand-held platform in Fabricom can contribute positively to the interaction within the organization. The digital work process is capable of providing access to real-time data and real-time communication throughout the organization. This may contribute to a closer interaction between the divisions, and provide a better basis for problem solving and task performance.
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Most offshore engineering demands coordination and collaboration between several actors with diverging focus and competence across organizations. In addition to geographical distance, high quality demands, challenging environments and high risk, collaboration between involved actors are a key challenge in order to execute a coordinated and smooth practice that result in adequate solutions. Fabricom AS, a part of GDF Suez Energy, is delivering engineering services to the oil and gas industry; offshore and onshore, front-end and field development, maintenance and modification projects, as well as construction services. Fabricom is looking at the possibility of using hand-held devices to improve the work processes from planning and design, through production to construction and operation. In this chapter we discuss challenges and opportunities of hand held devices using Fabricom as a case. Our initial discussions with Fabricom led to this project. We have studied their work and discussed the idea of developing scenarios for using hand-held devices within all three departments; engineering, manufacturing and installation. This subject was of great interest to us as researchers, an idea that triggered the engineering management and a likeable idea for most employees in the company.

Integrated Operations (IO); information and communication technology enabling new ways of working, new practices and new forms of collaborations, is one of the main focuses in the oil and gas industry. Fabricom as vendor to drilling and production companies was drawn to IO both to fulfill the demands of the production companies and to improve their work processes to increase quality and reduce costs. Their focus is now on hand-held devices since this technology facilitates collaboration between internal departments, collaboration with external partners, improved feedback loops, documentation, information gathering and increased availability of crucial information. The potential of this technology inspires. After presenting existing work practices we discuss the expectations Fabricom have to hand-held devices. Building on Edwards et al’s (2010) generic insights and lessons learned from experiences of comparable processes in this industry we discuss the implications of shared understanding, real time data, effective leadership, trust, self-synchronization, collaborative environments and technological pitfalls. From our interview data, from the process view on implementations, and from our theoretical interest, we approach all three research streams presented by Orlikowski (2008). We present the actors and objects as discrete entities (research stream I) in the way most of our informants did, as mutually dependent ensembles (research stream II) the way process oriented perspectives does, and further we discuss the challenges of future practice by understanding the objects or actors as socio-material assemblages (research stream III). Our theoretical perspective is then to understand the opportunities and challenges of hand-held devices as both social and technical by approaching the interconnection between human and non-human actors.

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