The Time of Tech – How Digital Services are Impacting the Infrastructure Industry

In a world that is buzzing with the digital revolution, the construction and infrastructure industry can be seen as somewhat lagging behind in many areas, ostensibly due to ‘slow adopters’ of technology.

As a new generation of workers enter the industry, there has followed an increasing demand for digitally based solutions in the areas of finance, design, engineering and procurement, just to mention a few.

To better elucidate the effects of this shift away from time-draining methods of paper handling and its impact on productivity and the streamlining of labour intensive processes, let’s have a look at a few areas where the impacts have been the greatest.

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Financial flow

Ask a subcontractor what their number one frustration is and many will respond “getting paid”. Up till now, payment processes within projects have been archaic. Contractors lodge their invoice and it goes through a myriad of approval processes, double handlings and validations. Many contractors wait months after they have paid out for materials and completed the work, before receiving payment.

There is now a platform which provides easy-to-use, real-time, online collaboration methods which have been developed specifically around the construction industry and it’s unique structure. For example, positive cash flow, which is crucial within a progress payment schedule can now be simplified and streamlined to ensure faster payment and less headaches.

Using a Cloud based system, these online tools allow employers and contractors to work synergistically and collaboratively to fast track the payment process.

Subcontractors can then simply lodge their claims and supporting evidence via a mobile device, which is received by the appropriate department. This uniform method of submission, streamlines the payment process and eliminates dead-end paper shuffling.

By allowing contract parties to collaborate on a neutral platform, it eliminates the need for endless spreadsheet reconciliations, email trails and heated phone calls. This translates as reduced cost, increased efficiency, improves returns and reduces risk.

Design and engineering

Software and BIM or building information modelling have transformed the design and engineering industries. Products such as:

These products use 3D modelling simulation to create, edit and analyse designs. These CAD tools greatly reduce the time involved in design and allow users and clients to experience a far more powerful transparency within the field.

According to Professor Jules Moloney of the Geelong campus of Deakin School of Architecture and Built Environment, “spatial modelling, data visualisation, and virtual reality enable designs to be evaluated at the crucial early stages.”

This means that when new buildings and infrastructure are proposed, their technical performance and visual impressions can be assessed whilst still in the design phase. This flexibility enables architects and designers to create innovative solutions that address environmental and cultural impacts.

Planning and data management

A relatively new player in the procurement, planning and data management sector is a company by the name of dRofus.

Among its myriad of uses, this software is enabling integrated design validation of building requirements, managing project rooms for large facilities, organising and categorising FF&E and assigning and creating unique room data sheets.

Digital data management systems ensure:

  • Greater efficiency – less human error

  • Stronger security – digital footprints can be a record of all business interactions

  • Mobile access – huge amounts of data accessible via phones and tablets

  • Simpler processes – centralised, easy to search, information and files

  • Better compliance – easier, safer, storage of financial records

By 2020, Victoria’s digital economy alone could be worth over $50 billion.

That translates to a marketplace where those companies lagging behind in digital technology will be left in the dust.

Embracing digital services and technology will streamline your business to raise productivity, attract and retain employees and subcontractors and positively boost your bottom line.

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