Capital Projects
North America

In June 2016, Shell took the final investment decision to construct a world-scale petrochemicals manufacturing plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The plant will consist of an ethylene cracker and three polyethylene derivatives units. In November 2017, Shell completed an extensive site preparation program and the multi-billion-dollar project entered the main construction phase. Commercial production is estimated to begin sometime in the next couple of years. The plant will use locally sourced ethane from the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 million tonnes of polyethylene each year. Polyethylene is used in many everyday products, from food packaging and containers to automotive components. The facility is being built on the banks of the Ohio River in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north-west of Pittsburgh. The plant is strategically positioned close to both feedstock and the customer base. More than 70% of the North American industrial polyethylene demand originates in the North-East, within a 1,100 kilometer (700-mile) radius of Pittsburgh. The plant’s Pennsylvania location offers the customers a short, dependable supply chain. The project’s scale is impressive with 300 miles of pipe, more than 1,600 items of manufactured equipment (the largest lift – 1,400 metric tons), and 294 pre-assembled modules. The construction workforce reached its peak in 2019 and into early 2020 with up to 8,500 workers on site, including more than 30 contracting companies. 600 permanent jobs will be created after the project is complete.

Due to the intense level of construction activity, careful planning and constant information sharing have been critical in maintaining project schedules. Managing Pennsylvania’s largest construction project for decades has demanded new ways of working, and state-of-the-art tools to facilitate them. As the project team discovered in 2017, some of the demanded functionality did not exist in the marketplace at the time and had to be innovated. The project team needed a digital approach to manage the flow of information in this construction project, to make informed decisions, develop and adjust execution plans, stay on top of progress and costs, ensure quality, and above all, keep people safe. The team sought to contextualize multiple layers of information in an interactive, map-based platform taking the digitalization to the next level, enabling full progress visibility, operational efficiency, and stakeholder communication at all levels.

“Since the introduction of iHawk to the project back in 2017, we have seen an exponential increase in the usage of the GIS information across critical execution activities such as field engineering, site coordination, environmental monitoring, construction management, and workforce planning, materials management and many others."

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In 2017 Shell Polymers selected Cyberhawk’s iHawk visualization platform as the foundation digital tool for managing the construction site. The two companies started to collaborate to develop a set of unique, differentiating capabilities to meet a wide range of challenges that the project team was facing.

iHawk, a cloud-based, IoT-enabled visualization interface, enables a community of 700 active users from Shell and 40+ execution contractors to work off the same baseline – in the office, in the field on mobile devices, and remotely. 45 interactive, touch-enabled screens have been deployed around the construction and in the future operation team’s offices, in meeting rooms and to collaboration areas. Everyone on the team has a direct, on the spot access to iHawk. The easily accessible smart screens foster collaboration and teamwork and have made iHawk an integral part of all planning and coordination meetings on the project.

Today iHawk combines visual data gathered by the UAVs (drones), ground 360 cameras with data from a myriad of field sensors and IoT devices enabling real-time equipment location tracking and performance monitoring, locating construction materials across five laydown areas using RFID technology, and more into a single visual interface for site planners, contractors and executives. According to the Shell IT director on the project, “iHawk has become an inseparable part of what we do, it is now part of the landscape for Pennsylvania Chemicals, and for all future Shell projects.”

Visual data management is not limited to drone imagery. Site inspection imagery, for example, taken in large volumes by quality inspectors and construction engineers, is notoriously difficult to gather, catalog, and manage centrally. On this project, Shell and Cyberhawk developed a simple self-service workflow for this kind of content to be captured, uploaded, linked to an equipment tag and assigned keywords in a few clicks, or screen taps on a mobile device. The images can then be instantly shared across the project team, for example, to report the need for remediation action.

The Site Master Plan module was developed in response to the needs of the main EPC contractor managing the site. The joint owner and EPC project management team relies on the high-resolution GIS data, developed from drone imagery, and enriched with layers of contextualized information, to plan heavy equipment moves and oversized deliveries, organize equipment staging, and to manage congested laydown area space across the busy 380-acre construction site.

Historically difficult to manage offline with Gannt charts, space planning clashes and constraints can be instantly detected and resolved in a visual domain. The ability to assign a physical area for a specific task and purpose, assign a responsible individual, and publish this information to the stakeholders, is crucial. Not only does iHawk put hundreds of real estate assignments on the timeline and make them visible to everyone on the team, but it also helps to drive personal accountability for the success of every task.

The team uses iHawk to track the position and usage of construction equipment – in this case, the dozens of heavy cranes deployed across the site by seamlessly integrating industry-leading IoT solutions.
The cranes are fitted with vibration sensors that report uptime and other telemetry data, which is aggregated in iHawk for interpretation and analysis, helping the area managers to derive the most value from the investment in the equipment.

The result

The collection of site imagery captured over time by 360-degree ground cameras and by drones has contributed to countless progress and cost reviews with the major contractors and subcontractors, making them factual, evidence-based, and ultimately transparent and fair.

iHawk empowers cross-functional teams to hold each other accountable every day, generating significant value. The monthly cumulative usage of the portal approaches 10,000 hours, exceeding the most optimistic targets and expectations. It is estimated, that every hour of iHawk’s usage translates in the equivalent, often even greater, efficiency gains in the field.

The FindAll module was developed to address one of the most significant challenges inherent to large, complex projects – finding the relevant information quickly. FindAll reaches across multiple databases and information sources, historically disparate, to locate and retrieve engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning documentation and data, up to 90% quicker than some of the traditional methods and tools, saving 3-5 minutes per search. Up to 50,000 searches are performed each month.

Customer testimonial

iHawk is a modular system that integrates with a wide spectrum of business and real-time systems via low-cost low-maintenance APIs. Amid 20 integration options available already, with the option to quickly deliver additional interfaces as the customer needs evolve, iHawk is strategically positioned in the heart of the IT architecture of this and future projects.

Commenting on the success of the project, Dmitry Gurevich, IT director Pennsylvania Chemicals at Shell, said:

“In the early days of the execution phase, we chose Cyberhawk to be our drone content management partner amid a rigorous competitive evaluation process, concluding that it was best in class solution for the needs of a multi-billion construction megaproject. The depth of knowledge and expertise the iHawk development team has, enabled Cyberhawk to provide a near real-time response to the evolving, challenging functional requirements, that the project team continues to come up against.

“Since the introduction of iHawk to the project back in 2017, we have seen an exponential increase in the usage of the GIS information across critical execution activities such as field engineering, site coordination, environmental monitoring, construction management, and workforce planning, materials management and many others.

“iHawk has enabled a digital revolution across the owner’s team and the contractor community. We see iHawk as a tool that offers opportunities for safety improvements through increased efficiency and improved visualization prior to work activities.

“The data collected throughout the execution phase is a resourceful legacy that will continue to empower the asset operations team for the entire plant-life.”

“It is exciting to see the platform has grown so much in capability in such a short period of time. We look forward to continuing our journey together with Cyberhawk. The strength of the team behind iHawk was the deciding factor that enabled Shell to install iHawk as the global standard for the project and asset visualization”


In early 2016, Cyberhawk completed an inspection on twelve 100m tall cooling towers at the Drax coal-fired power station near Selby, UK.


Power Generation

Many wind turbine owners, operators and OEMs new to the world of UAV inspection are dubious about the accuracy and quality of data that can be achieved through this solution. We could tell you all about how we can size defects down to +/- 5mm accuracy, or position the defects to a few centimetres from the root and leading edge, but we thought a real-life example would be more interesting….

The interesting part, however, is that our UAV inspection identified a crack on the trailing edge of one blade which the inspection using a ground camera failed to pick up. Trailing edge cracks can be difficult to see and if not detected and monitored from an early stage, can become progressively worse, leading to structural damage and costly repairs.

In a recent project for a major OEM, Cyberhawk was tasked with inspecting blades at an onshore wind farm in the UK. The OEM was keen to compare our drone captured data to that from their traditional ground camera solution. Despite 25 knot (12.8m/s) wind speeds, our team mobilised to site and conducted the inspection in just a few minutes.


This example proves an important point. It demonstrated that an experienced UAV inspection team can not only match the quality of traditional inspection methods, but can actually identify defects which may not previously have been picked up – without requiring technicians to work at height.


As part of a client’s ongoing fabric maintenance campaign, Cyberhawk was appointed to conduct a detailed inspection of four offshore vents and two onshore flares.


Land & Rail

The project, completed in one day, saw Cyberhawk provide an orthophoto, 3D point cloud and oblique images of the site to aid the distribution network operator (DNO) identify exposed underground cables or areas where cables could become exposed in the future. UAVs were selected for this project, as traditional survey methods, including ground based total stations or laser scanning, would have involved working close to the cliff and would take a long time to complete. Cyberhawk were chosen to conduct this work scope thanks to our extensive experience of working in challenging coastal environments.

The team utilised a multirotor UAV to complete this work. This platform provided flexibility in acquiring imagery for generating a topographic model and also oblique and panoramic images. Our experienced team of surveyors delivered the project successfully and on time, with the client reporting significant cost savings.

Due to the survey’s location, the main challenges on site were high winds, wet weather. The project was also affected by the tide; so keeping to strict deadlines and timescales was paramount.


Our client provided existing CAD drawings of the known underground cable positions. These were overlaid on our orthophoto imagery providing additional information about potential future issues due to erosion on the coastline.

The survey data was provided electronically and also via our secure online portal.


Cyberhawk was approached by an offshore gas operator in Italy to complete UAV structural inspections of its assets.