Any infrastructure project begins with strict requirements for materials, measurements, safety and performance. A structure and series of tasks to be completed is then created by a team of project planners and set out for foremen, surveyors, contractors and builders to complete.
Information is distributed out to each worker on the job and the task is performed. However, written requirements can sometimes leave room for human error when transferred between the planning team and the workers onsite.
This can result in incorrect measurements, work performed on the wrong version of plans and a number of other missteps that slow productivity.
Digitalising a project’s workflow process and enabling information to be updated in real time reduces the risk of human error. It ensures all workers on a project are up to date and working to the correct requirements.
InEight Executive Vice President – Asia Pacific Rob Bryant speaks to Roads & Infrastructure about the benefits of digitalising data and connecting one’s systems to a site.
“Digitalisation is essentially a productive way to capture and organise all of the information on a project in order for it to be interrogated and reported on quickly and easily,” Mr. Bryant says.
“Projects today are more technologically complex than ever before. There is more information that exists as part of the asset, which creates demand for solutions to manage it, because there are more layers of information that need to be interrogated and understood,” Mr. Bryant says.
InEight’s field execution management solutions bridge the gap, enabling more efficient capture, sharing and communication of critical information in real time, facilitating productivity.
“In the past, those on-site had to rely on the vast amount of information that might be stored back in the site or design engineer’s office. Now they can inspect that information and any changes or photographs can be captured and sent back in real time,” Mr. Bryant says.
Users have access to the tools from the desktop in the office and the information is stored on a cloud-based platform. Each product has an app to enable workers to access the tools in the field.
“The real-time updates and access provided through apps give some certainty to workers on where to focus their efforts, the overall workload and resource requirements,” Mr. Bryant says.
Typical users of these digitalised systems are quality managers, site foremen, surveyors and design engineers. Site foremen are often tasked with having to plan what resources and employees are assigned to a site and then tracking what work is being achieved throughout the day.
“All of those functions can now be performed digitally on-site and are sent back to the office instantly,” Mr. Bryant says.
By way of example, on a rail tunnel project, contractors will typically have a vast amount of information on safety and networks in the tunnel, as well as the physical infrastructure of the rail line.
“Having the up-to-date plans on-site can even help workers understand what is underground at a certain point and determine where to dig or what sections to avoid,” Mr. Bryant says.
In turn, when issues are discovered on-site, the instantaneous nature of digital solutions can save vast amounts of time. “The query or issue can be sent back to the engineer instantly. Issues can be reviewed and recommendations provided on how to proceed much more quickly than in the past.”
The technology also reduces the need to compile large amounts of data for project reports.
“We have had a number of case studies where companies have said they could eliminate 30- to 40-page reports on projects that have taken two weeks to put together. Now they can pull in that data for live dashboards, which has huge leverage at an executive level,” says Mr. Bryant.
He says the level of investment in digitalisation technology in the construction industry has rapidly increased in the last few years as more companies have become aware of its ability to help deliver more profitable projects.
In the future, Mr. Bryant believes the data points captured on projects will only increase. “In the United States, using drones to capture information and feed that back to their tools is being tested. Other technologies, such as Microsoft HoloLens, are rolling out, which allow workers to see a virtual display through glasses in the field.”
He says these advancements will further increase efficiency and productivity on-site while informing key decision makers, and they are only becoming more valuable.
“Digitalisation provides accountability for the work being done today and helps those in the industry seamlessly exchange information between the field and office to meet deadlines, realise business efficiencies and use captured data to more accurately plan for tomorrow’s projects.