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Minimising risk in engineering projects

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A TEAM of scientists from CSIRO’s Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology (CMIT) has invented project management software that learns from previous project successes and failures.

The software is believed to be the first risk management software designed for concurrent engineering projects that links the entire project management process from product or project design, development, manufacturing to delivery.

The software, Intelligent Risk Mapping and Assessment System (IRMAS), is being piloted by Hawker de Havilland , a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, on its 787 projects.

IRMAS is a dynamic web-based tool developed primarily for project managers to deal with risks associated with their tasks.

CSIRO IRMAS project leader Dr Mingwei Zhou says the software has its own expert knowledge base made up of previous experience and solutions, as well as quantified company-specific risk policies.

“Many companies are locked in engineering cycles where they repeat costly but mitigable mistakes,” Dr Zhou says.

“Based on project manager’s responses to a customised set of questions, the software will identify possible risks based on existing knowledge in the system repository.”

The software covers eight risk categories and more than 200 risk types. A team of researchers who collaborated through the Cooperative Research Centre for Intelligent Manufacturing Systems & Technologies developed the software.

The software ranks risks by likelihood and consequence, and suggests mitigation strategies based on lessons learned from previous projects and best practices. The software comes with more than 170 lessons learnt, 35 case studies as well as 13 customer and supplier profiles.

Boeing-Hawker de Havilland has classified more than 589 risks into three types of projects: design build, derivative design and build to print. Their total database of ‘risk knowledge’ now stretches to over 4300 items.

Hawker de Havilland’s Research Team Leader Dr Adrian Rispler says the uniqueness of the IRMAS software is that it allows concurrency of engineering tasks to be factored in the risk identification and analysis stages.

“IRMAS will allow us to identify, analyse, mitigate and monitor risks in complex engineering projects across multidisciplinary teams whilst being able to account for interdependency of tasks,” Dr Rispler says.

The software has been designed with concurrent engineering and multi-site product development in mind.

The IRMAS project is a joint research and development project with researchers from the University of NSW, University of Wollongong and Hawker de Havilland. Hearne Scientific Software distributes the software.

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