Magazine article International Trade Forum

Software for Environmental Engineers. (Market Profile)

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Software for Environmental Engineers. (Market Profile)

Article excerpt

The overall environmental software market was estimated at about US$ 1.8 billion in 1995, of which US$ 1.14 billion for consulting and services. So what IT tools does a consulting engineer in a developing country need to compete in the market for environmental engineering services? This article provides a quick checklist.

The use of personal computers (PCs) has become essential for international architects, consulting engineers and contractors. Most successful engineering firms in developing countries, for example, have invested heavily in information technology (IT). Many of them are using it for plant design, project management and control, and market development. Many clients requesting tenders for complete plants will specify that the supplier should use designated software. Many leading consultants will require all potential subcontractors to have compatible software.

What computer applications do firms need to be competitive? Here is a quick checklist.

Project management software

Project management software permits accurate forecasting of timescales, budgets and completion dates; resource management; cost control, baseline and bid tracking; risk management; database integration; networking and critical path analysis. It is used in all sectors of general engineering.

Estimating software

Windows-based estimating and bidding software packages for PCs are available from Australian, European and North American sources. It is often possible to preview these packages from the vendor's web site before purchase, since most of them have web sites on the Internet. Estimating software includes modules for calculating and analysing total project quantities; calculating volumes of dams, channels, trenches, etc.; and making spreadsheets, specifications and cost estimates. Using a single database, these database management systems make it possible to create specifications and cost estimates from drawings. There are programmes available for multi-bid comparisons. These can interface with project management programmes to track construction expenditures, giving early warnings of cost overruns or delays. Automatic adjustments of specifications and estimates following project revisions are possible.

Computer-aided design

Computer-aided design (CAD) has now become mandatory for any engineering company wishing to market environmental or infrastructural engineering services. There are now at least 140 CAD systems available. The connectivity of systems is extremely important. Most engineering firms have access to a large number of basic CAD systems for architectural design; for designing building services and civil engineering, drainage and hydrological facilities; for facilities planning and management; and for designing roads, piping, and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Every CAD system database contains a vast amount of data to support the system.

Specialized environmental software

Environmental software commonly used by environmental engineering firms includes specialized software for coastal protection; land remediation; air quality management; pollution control of noise, air and water; and environmental and pollution management.

Today there are several thousand specialized environmental software packages available globally. Many bilateral assistance programmes on the environment promote collaboration among developing countries on environmental software. In the United Kingdom for example, the Joint Environmental Marketing Unit, a joint venture between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment, has produced a directory of specialized environmental software products. These products can be made available for joint ventures with firms in developing countries through the United Kingdom's Technology Partnership Initiative. …

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