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AECOM delivers complete electrical engineering design solutions
01 December 2019
AECOM delivers complete electrical engineering design solutions

The Electrical Engineering department of infrastructure company AECOM works in conjunction with all related disciplines – from architectural to mechanical, structural, civils, project management and quantity surveying – to provide fully coordinated design solutions for its clients. Projects range from rail to airports, breweries, automotive, sports stadia and even commercial offices.

Such collaboration allows for continuous interaction and coordination between all of the departments, aided by regular project design and coordination meetings to discuss the various interfaces, Johann Wolmarans (Pr Eng CEng MIET), Practice Area Lead, Electrical Engineering at AECOM explains.
The Electrical Engineering department consists of a range of engineers, technicians, and BIM modellers, all working together seamlessly as a unit in order to deliver projects. “Our team has a wide variety of skills and expertise that enables us to take on almost any project of any size and complexity,” Wolmarans highlights.

These range from new office developments for Citibank and Absa, a new bodyshop and logistics building for MBSA, a new bodyshop and data centre for BMW, the Heineken brewery expansion in Sedibeng, the Terminal A refurbishment at OR Tambo International Airport for ACSA, the new rail transport manufacturing facility for Gibela, and the Park Station refurbishment in central Johannesburg for Prasa, among others.

Design is carried out using Revit 3D BIM, Amtech ProDesign 3D power system design, and ElumTools lighting design software. AECOM has started implementing Amtech ProDesign in Africa especially. This powerful, engineer-friendly software is ideal for projects of all sizes, from residential to industrial. ElumTools is highly specific in that it takes into account the holistic environment and architectural aspects, from the furniture to the colour rendering on the walls and ceilings, all in a 3D environment.

“These software packages helps us to provide efficient, coordinated, and cost-effective design solutions within any industry,” Wolmarans stresses. The AECOM electrical engineering team utilises BIM 3D modelling to coordinate with the other major disciplines. BIM, in particular, aids in clash detection at the initial stage, identifying the exact location of discrepancies within the 3D BIM environment.

Commenting on what gives AECOM the leading edge in this field, Wolmarans explains that its focus on an integrated 3D BIM design platform provides a complete engineering design solution in line with all the relevant SANS standard requirements, from which accurate bills of quantities can be generated from as early as the design stage.

“It is extremely important for us as engineers to actively utilise the various software packages available to us. This helps us streamline our work flows and deliver high-quality coordinated designs much more efficiently, which improves our competitiveness in the marketplace,” Wolmarans adds. The high-quality work delivered consistently by the Electrical Engineering department has thus resulted in a lot of repeat business from existing clients.

In terms of ongoing challenges, Wolmarans points out that, due to the current economic climate, customers tend to look for more cost-effective solutions. As a result, projects are much more cost-driven, and budgets are tighter than ever. “This affects the way we approach our design solutions and manage the budgets on our projects, as customers are constantly striving towards improving their operations as a means to increase revenue.”

One way of reducing costs is through automation, which Wolmarans sees as definitely playing a major role at present. “Businesses are looking more towards automation as a means of cost reduction and increasing productivity. With automation, businesses can either save or make money.”
Another major trend is energy-saving and sustainability. “Energy sustainability is becoming a global necessity, given the pervasive use of energy resources globally. Energy, which is needed for every aspect of life, plays a key role in the development of countries. Countries need to use energy efficiently to be globally competitive, ensure sustainable development, and succeed economically.”

Wolmarans points to South Africa as an example, where Eskom’s long-term demand forecast is anticipated to be 77 960 MW by 2025, from a peak demand of 34 000 MW in 2016. “Energy efficiency is a critical tool to relieve pressure on energy supply. It can play a big part in reducing demand which, in turn, reduces the risk of energy suppliers being unable to keep up with the demand.”

As the Electrical Practice Lead based at the AECOM Centurion regional head office, the department’s capabilities focus on energy and renewable energy solutions, LV electrical and ICT installations. It offers all aspects necessary for a successful project, from inception to masterplanning, preliminary and detailed design, and budgeting and financial control, through to the construction, completion and close-out phases.

Wolmarans commenced his career at Scott Wilson in the UK, which was acquired by URS and subsequently AECOM. He worked eight years in the UK, of which five were spent on major redevelopment projects at Heathrow Airport. During this time he obtained Chartered Engineering status with the Engineering Council UK, and also worked on power system upgrades and studies in the UK and Wales.

He returned to South Africa six years ago, working on major projects in the mining and petrochemical industries. He has also been accredited as a Professional Engineer by the Engineering Council of South Africa.

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