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    IDEA, design and engineering for the new industrial revolution

    August 17, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras


      Emilio Sanchez, CEO of Advanced Structural Design and Engineering (IDEA), says that the start of his company reminds him a lot of the garage that some U.S. entrepreneurs talk about when asked about their origins. He started the business as a freelancer in the dining room of his home, after years of working on innovation projects and identifying that there were opportunities in the architectural and industrial market, using 3D models to maximize efficiency in the design and engineering of buildings, factories and other infrastructure. Twelve years and many layers of complexity later, IDEA has developed green hydrogen projects together with Iberdrola and Enagás. Likewise, it has invoiced 9 million euros in 2021 and plans to reach 12 million this year.

      Since its beginnings in Cartagena, the company's services have been based on the BIM methodology, a collaborative work method that documents the entire life cycle of a project through a three-dimensional digital model. This virtual replica forms a large centralized database that makes it possible to manage the elements during all phases of the project.

      Methodology and more

      This seeks to integrate people with processes and technology to enhance effective communication, information value and collaborative data management. The information in the BIM model is shared through a virtual space known as a common data environment (or CDE), so that this information is accessible to all the agents involved in the project. In this sense, it affects all phases of the project life cycle and communicates to all those involved.

      IDEA assures that this methodology, together with the digital tools they provide to their clients, allows reducing project costs by up to 75% and increasing productivity by up to 89%. These benefits would generally be related to the early detection of errors, situations or factors that will need to be corrected and will represent higher added costs and time investment in the future.

      Sanchez recalls that the turning point came in 2012. Long before there was talk of the metaverse, they decided to experiment with the then incipient virtual and augmented reality technologies: "We didn't know the concept of Industry 4.0, but we did understand that we were going to bring greater value to the customer and avoid errors." Over time, they incorporated other technological tools into their processes, such as drones and 3D printing.

      Digital twins

      IDEA has since developed the so-called BIM digital twins, which are virtual models of a process, product or service, created through information obtained from sensors and/or historical data records. With this tool it is possible to perform an intelligent analysis, monitor systems and even make future projections.

      The BIM digital twin allows, for example, to see on a screen or monitor the statistics of an infrastructure or a system, and to verify the pressure of a gas pipeline, the consumption of an air conditioner, the corrosion of a pipe or the performance of a worker. Some of these technologies are already being applied, for example, in the smart factory of Iberian Lube Base Oils Company (Ilboc), in Cartagena.

      "Before, we only made 3D models for construction and engineering. We realized that, if we already had that recreation, we could add the dynamic data of real behavioral readings. With that we could then make algorithms to convert them into intelligent models and thus achieve smart buildings," says Sanchez.

      Another application of IDEA's technology is risk prevention. "We use virtual reality glasses to replicate the activities that an operator will perform in a plant. In this way, they are trained in a simulator and you can see what each person is doing well and what they are failing at. When they get to the real job, they will be much better prepared," says Sánchez. "In some projects we have now, the worker can go to the site with a cell phone and report in real time the status of the activities," he adds.

      Another application is models that make it possible to make projections that anticipate problems. For example, in a building, gas flows or the wear and tear of valve equipment can be measured to anticipate when the infrastructure will need maintenance. With this same methodology, it is possible to identify whether an air conditioning or lighting system is spending more than necessary and improve efficiency and savings.

      Green future

      IDEA now aims to consolidate internationally. The company wants to become a benchmark in the digital transition, especially oriented to the green transition. IDEA already has international experience in America, Asia and Africa. In collaboration with major Spanish companies, it has participated in projects in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, among others.

      Sánchez believes that digital transformation is not only digital elements, but the "transformation of people". In this sense, he says that, in his best projects, digital elements have to be incorporated into the daily work and decision making of companies. In this context, another of the company's major objectives is to position itself as a central player in Spanish and global green engineering.

      "In recent years we have been carrying out sustainable engineering and construction projects. Through our IDEAgreen line we are moving towards sustainable technological innovation, with innovative services that promote sustainable electric mobility, renewable energies, bioclimatic architecture or the use of green hydrogen as an energy vector", IDEA explains. In fact, the company was recently awarded the Cepyme prize for innovation after four years of presenting projects.

      One of the main focuses of the Cartagena company in this field is in green hydrogen. In this sense, they offer services such as the design of plants and power distribution lines and associated substations for energy transport, as well as advice and definition of the gas storage and handling system. The company has also developed and continues to work on multiple photovoltaic energy, sustainable mobility and climate architecture projects, which, according to Sánchez, will mark its future together with renewable hydrogen.


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