Iv-Infra has elevated its data storage and processing capabilities, guided by the advice of ADC, a Data & AI Consultancy based in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. In collaboration with UbiOps and drawing upon their expertise and platform, the engineering firm established a new infrastructure and system.
Ramon Kienhuis, Iv-Infra’s Mobility and Data consultant and representative in the project team, shared insights during an interview. Ramon expressed, “We wanted to take the next step towards digitisation.”
Better and more efficient
Iv-Infra, a division of the Iv-Groep, is a globally operating and multidisciplinary engineering firm headquartered in Papendrecht, the Netherlands. Iv-Infra provides integral, customised and innovative designs and advice for the construction and maintenance of wet and dry infrastructure, such as buildings, constructions, and infrastructure projects like bridges and locks.
In addition to providing design and advice services for steel and concrete structures, hydraulic engineering, spatial planning, maintenance and railways, Iv-Infra also provides integral services in the fields of traffic and infrastructure installations, spatial measurement and monitoring of structures, RAMS and risk management, asset management, systems engineering, contract management, project management & supervision.
In their line of work, extensive calculations are frequently performed, often relying on Excel. However, storing calculations locally and exchanging them via email had limitations. They aimed to improve and streamline this process with the help of ADC and UbiOps. Ramon highlights, “Excel is often slow when you make very complex and large calculations and it is difficult to link to other software, such as drawing programs. We also wanted all data and calculations to be stored centrally and systematically, so that they can be easily shared within the organisation and it is clear what the latest, current version is.”
”[UbiOps] is easy to navigate and manage. The good thing is that the platform does exactly what you want. It is useful that it has a lot of similarities with other software, also in terms of structure. For people who are familiar with Docker, for example, it works very logically. That makes it easy to convert existing scripts.”
Combining Microsoft Azure and UbiOps
“You can either reinvent the wheel yourself or hire a party that is good at it,” says Ramon in reference to ADC. “Among other things, [ADC] carried out a scan and conducted interviews with people within our organisation. They inventoried what our wishes really were, what solution was needed, how and where we would store everything, and which platforms and software best suited the new way of working.”
Based on their findings, ADC recommended Microsoft Azure as the ideal data storage option. Ramon explains, “This was an easy choice since we were already using Microsoft systems and UbiOps is linked to that for execution. We write Python code and scripts, for example, to count traffic on a particular route that motorists take as an alternative at a road closure. Since we now do that in the cloud, anyone can request them and work with them.”
Best in the test
A demo was conducted prior to selecting UbiOps, as recommended by ADC. First, three pilots were assessed, including two other candidates, with ADC providing detailed analysis on each SaaS program’s security, functionalities, and scalability.
According to Ramon, who actively participated in the pilot projects, UbiOps emerged as the top choice: “During the evaluation, UbiOps turned out to work best and also fits perfectly with what we want in the future.”
Ramon continues, “We mainly had contact with ADC, but there was good guidance from UbiOps in the parts in which they were involved, such as with the onboarding and also when we had questions about programming. They helped us really get to know the architecture.”
ADC conducted a comprehensive analysis of each layer within the model, considering the current position of the organisation and its future objectives. This strategic evaluation involved deliberations on the necessary actions for Iv-Infra to bridge the gap between their present and desired states. Consequently, the final outcome of this process placed significant emphasis on both people and technology.
One notable recommendation from ADC was for Iv-Infra to establish a centralised data team, fostering seamless collaboration among individuals proficient in tools like Python and Azure. Furthermore, ADC prioritised the human aspect by proposing the inclusion of representatives or sponsors for the new work approach within the organisation. This initiative aimed to motivate other employees to embrace the usage of Azure and UbiOps, ensuring that the people factor was given due consideration throughout the transformation process.
In their own hands
For the web interfaces to the calculation tools web page, UbiOps has seamlessly integrated Streamlit. Ramon continues, “It is easy to navigate and manage. The good thing is that the platform does exactly what you want. It is useful that it has a lot of similarities with other software, also in terms of structure. For people who are familiar with Docker, for example, it works very logically. That makes it easy to convert existing scripts.”
An increasing number of colleagues at Iv-Infra are now utilising the new system. Ramon explains, “Because the code is so easily adaptable, any threshold is quickly removed. This applies to the small group that programs themselves with Python, but also to the others. They can easily find and apply the calculations they need. Once something has been processed in UbiOps, everyone in our organisation can work with it via that web page where the tools are collected.”
The user base continues to expand. “For that we use Streamlit (an open-source app framework for machine learning and data science) proposed by UbiOps. We can do that ourselves and customise it completely according to our own wishes.” Ramon continues, “That is an extra advantage that we also discussed extensively with ADC beforehand, because that does not make us dependent on an external party.”
Large data sets
Ramon affirms that the objective of improving efficiency and speed has been successfully realised through ADC’s implementation of Microsoft Azure and UbiOps. “It is noticeably faster and more efficient. Not only do I experience this, but it also applies to my colleagues.”
Ramon: “We sometimes have very large datasets. For example, if you download just the counts of all provincial roads for one year, you are already talking about 10 gigabytes. So, as you can imagine, running calculations on my own computer would take a very long time. Now that we can do that on the UbiOps platform, it saves a lot of time. With maximum computing, it takes me a few minutes at most. And if we grow in the coming years, we will not run into any problems because it is scalable, so we can plan for years ahead.”