Power to the Process

September 26, 2013

What is the role of data in the power infrastructure segment of construction? The ability to save manpower, reducing schedules, and save costs are just a few that immediately spring to mind. For one contractor, the role of data has paid big dividends—the value seems to have only just begun.

Formed in 1940, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc. is a regional electrical generation and transmission cooperative that wholesales electrical power to 11 rural electric cooperatives. The organization serves as operating agent for the Northern Municipal Power Agency, which is an association of 12 municipal utilities, which together serves more than 130,000 commercial and residential customers.

In order to meet the future needs of customers, Minnkota undertook the construction of a 250-mile, 345KV high-voltage transmission line crossing 11 counties, from the center of North Dakota northward to Grand Forks. This five-year, $300 million project is significant, representing the longest high voltage transmission line built in North Dakota throughout the past three decades.

But the question during the process quickly became how to properly manage project data in order to ultimately improve power delivery to customers. For that, Minnkota Power Cooperative has embraced an online collaborative platform from Aconex, www.aconex.com, San Bruno, Calif., in order to better streamline information management and workflow processes. This becomes critical in connecting more than 100 stakeholders during the project.

By having a single platform, this eliminates the complexity and delays in sending/receiving project information using separate email systems and FTP (file transfer protocol) sites, which tend to be common on such projects.

This data across the project lifecycle – from feasibility and land acquisition through design and construction—ultimately becomes the lifeblood for any project. But for Minnkota Power, multiparty collaboration delivers access to highly critical and timely project information. One of the most distinguishing factors is that the access to this data is not just relevant during construction, but throughout the entire lifespan of the facility.

But the real answers often come down to hard results. For Minnkota Power Cooperative, those results have helped position it as a finalist in the 2013 Constructech Vision Awards, which will be announced at an awards ceremony on October 4 in Santa Clara, Calif. In addition, Jennifer Johnson, engineering services manager, Minnkota Power Cooperative, will be on hand during the afternoon where she will present on the project, the technology, and the quantifiable results.