Why did we pioneer this technology?
Xodus is an integrated, energy consultancy where teams across the business often work together on projects towards a common goal. Various teams at Xodus had explored the use of programming languages such as Python to supplement typical engineering analysis and, in some instances, do new things that just weren’t possible using traditional engineering methods. Each corner of Xodus had slightly different ways of doing things but generally required the same types of input and the same reason for producing an output. Often the case existed (and still exists) where the output of one team becomes the input of another, and therefore passing these data between teams and processes required some control. As the company progressed from traditional methods involving common tools such as Excel and PowerBI, we needed a platform to control the interactions between our data and our digitalised processes and make AI-based recommendations for connecting everything. We defined our problem, developed a proof of concept and progressed an investment case for the minimum viable product in 2020, with delivery of the platform in 2021.
What exactly does it do?
The platform, an Angular web app, has core principles of integration, automation, quality control, efficiency, and repeatability. At its most fundamental level it is designed to stitch together scripts and data into workflows which produce consistent outputs. Where the value comes from is the ability to use these workflows to run sensitivities on inputs, connect external data sources as inputs, connect outputs as inputs to other workflows, and to run complex analytics across outputs from independent workflows. The platform’s foundations make it accessible to those who wish to code and those who absolutely don’t want to see any code. The primary components that make an integrated engineering platform a game-changer for engineering include:
- data management in appropriate relational/non-relational databases governed by Data Governance processes
- script version control and quality assurance via mechanisms like Git in Azure DevOps or Jira
- script tethering into workflows, where commonly used workflows can be created from basic components in a “no code” solution for re-use
- connectivity to third-party applications such as simulators and processors
- standard libraries of input schemas, interactive output visualisations and analytical tools
- templates for multi-discipline project design bases
Why do we think it’s game-changing?
We now have the ability to create or accept digital design data from any third-party and ingest it into a digital platform, perform all sorts of complex analysis that far exceeds traditional capabilities, communicate the solution in an interactive way using the best digital visualisations available, and forward the augmented data to whoever requires it in whichever format they wish. Every calculation executed, data transacted or visualisation viewed is captured in the platform’s logs to have full revision history of the processes that have occurred. Need an earlier version of a process, calculation, visualisation or dataset? No problem, just go back and grab it! Need to share the inputs, workflow or outputs with someone? Also, no problem!
With input and output data structured in ways that the scripts can understand we're able to use AI to recommend inputs and dependencies to those scripts to created fully integrated workflows that perform a considerable amount of analysis in a fraction of the conventional time. This means more time to be creative, more time to explore a new solution, and more confidence in a solution. The impact to how we work is tremendous.
We Are Xodus. This Is What We Do.
People have often challenged that any endeavour to use digital initiatives or AI to integrate and automate engineering will water down the requirement for a subject matter expert. This is simply not true. The role of expertise in an integrated and automated approach is in knowing how to use the process. The process or tool only exists to enable the subject matter expert to make an informed decision and it is through the use of game-changing technology like integrated engineering platforms and AI that better decisions can be made.