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An Eye Toward
Construction Recovery in 2022

2/17/2022

43 Minutes

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Transcript

Andrew Harris:   

Good morning, everybody. I hope you can all hear me. Welcome to today’s InEight webinar, An Eye Toward Construction and the Recovery in 2022. My name is Andrew Harris. I am really privileged to be welcoming you all online today. Look, I think I have one of the best jobs in the industry and I’m really excited to be hosting this webinar. As VP of sales for Asia Pacific and Japan for InEight, this really provides me an exciting and at times, intimate view into some of the world’s most complex engineering feats while working alongside some of the most innovative and skilled owners and project delivery organizations anywhere in the world. We are joined today by two gentlemen who have extensive experience from grassroots engineering and project delivery through to the application and adoption of world leading technology across major projects and asset operations. But before we get into to meet the team today, just a couple of reminders before we get started.

Let us know that you’re here, and I can see a number of people coming in, which is great, by using the chat box. You can use that just to say hello. You can actually use that to put in any comments. There’s also a question box as well. But what we find in some of these sessions is that people just use the chat box to ask questions as well, which is perfectly fine. That’s going to be moderated by Rose from our Asia Pacific marketing team. So thanks very much for your support there, Rose. We really enjoy bringing these webinars to life for all of our participants, our customers, our prospects, and our engineering and owner community. If you really like what you see here today, please rate the webinar. Please provide us some feedback on what topics you might want to see in the future. We really look forward to bringing you continued events like this.

Well, what a year we had in 2021. As we roll into 2022, things continually apace. We are seeing significant and unprecedented changes and challenges facing all participants in the construction of some of the world’s most impactful projects. Today’s webinar really takes a look at how these are redefining the sector and creating opportunities and innovation across so many parts of the industry. I’ve been really looking forward to speaking with Henry Okraglik, the global director for WSP and Matt Macaras, who’s the senior solution engineer for Asia Pacific and Japan for InEight, and really looking at how the industry is changing for the better. Things are looking different with digital innovation continuing to accelerate and we have possibilities across the market that have not previously been available to us. Henry and Matt will talk about the current challenges and future trends we’re likely to see in the never normal world we now operate in and the importance of embracing technology for owners and contractors so they can stay ahead of the game. Henry, I’ll throw over to you to introduce yourself.

Henry Okraglik:

Thanks, Andrew. Good morning, everyone. My name’s Henry Okraglik. I’m the global director of WSP Digital. I’m responsible for WSP’s digital practice in Australia, so I have P&L responsibility for that and I’m also responsible for developing and executing WSP’s global digital strategy. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew Harris:  

Welcome, Henry. Matt, over to you.

Matt Macaras:  

Thanks, Andrew. My name is Matt Macaras. I’m the senior solution engineer for InEight in Asia Pacific and Japan, with extensive industry experience from estimating through to project management with over a decade in industrial construction.

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic. Welcome aboard, Matt. Look, as we all know, 2021 was a really turbulent year and 2022 is probably starting out in a similar vein. Lots of organizations needing to adjust forecasts, adjust schedules, changing expectations, changing prices of materials, material shortage, labor shortages, labor and material cost changes, and closing projects on time and on budget, I think, is a real challenge for the whole industry at the moment. Henry, I might start with you. What have you really seen as some of the greatest industry challenges across the region or globally in 2021?

Henry Okraglik: 

Sure. Well, you mentioned COVID. It’s very hard to have a conversation these days about any topic without talking about COVID, but we’ve got, I think, three somewhat interrelated things going on here. We’ve got COVID. We’ve got huge labor shortages. We know that in Australia, we’ve got record unemployment, so we find it very difficult to recruit people and I’m sure everyone on this call is suffering exactly the same thing that I know is happening at WSP. We have more vacancies than we have people to do the work. We’ve traditionally relied on imported labor to fill those gaps. We haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years.

The system at the moment is still very clogged in terms of getting imported labor. At the same time, and this is the great irony of all this, is we’re seeing a boom in infrastructure spending by governments federally and at the state level, and this is a global phenomenon. So all of these three things are feeding each other at the same time. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like this. What it demands of all of us is an agility and a resilience and a response that we’ve probably never had to deal with before. So I think we’re all making it up as we go along.

Andrew Harris:

It’s certainly got that feel to it some days, Henry, without a doubt. You add onto that the surge in private infrastructure investment as well across resources sectors, as well as what we’re seeing as a huge pivot in the energy sector as well combining on all of those fronts.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah, no, I think right. It’s almost a perfect storm, isn’t it, when you put all these things together and you go, “Well, no wonder we’re struggling in the industry as a construction and engineering and architecture industries to deal with all this.” There’s a lot going on.

Andrew Harris:   

Yeah. Matt,

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. One of the things we’re seeing with the labor shortage is the lack of skilled people. If we’ve got people working for our organizations that we can’t augment that with additional skill sets from other industries or from other companies because everyone is jumping around, there’s just not enough people to bring in additional skill sets. What we’ve seen a lot of and what I’ve had experience within the past is upskilling people within organizations to expand organizational capability while also helping retain talent, because the more you upskill talent within your organization, the more they feel appreciated and the organization also retains a lot of the intellectual property and a lot of that experience.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Something probably to explore a little bit there in that, Matt. Henry, from a WSP standpoint, talent attraction and retention, how are you guys looking to address that?

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah. We’ve tried all sorts of innovative approaches. I’ve currently been recruiting people through WSP in Poland to augment our technical resources here and that’s proven to be pretty good. But if you’d asked me a year ago, would we be having resources in Poland working for us, I would have said, “No way.” Even traditional places where we already have established resource centers in India and the Philippines, they’re at peak as well. So I’ve had to look much further [inaudible] than I ever thought. I thought the other point that I think where Matt might be heading with this is we found that we’re getting a lot of graduates in and we are training them ourselves and setting up more formalized training courses to skill them up quickly as a way of augmenting our workforce. We just can’t find enough skilled people. So recruiting students and industry-based learning students and training them up has proven to be quite successful for us.

Matt Macaras:    

I think we’ll probably see that start to become industry best practice, Henry. Most of my construction experience was with Kiewit out of North America and they’re the third largest contractor there. They have and have for a very long time had their own university where they fly graduates in from all over the country and go through one day, three-day, one week upskilling courses around project planning, project cost management, scheduling, even down to the things like, how do you survey? They run these courses year round and they also bring in executive management to talk to those courses, to talk to those classes to also build up culture within the organization.

Henry Okraglik: 

I think, really, InEight and Kiewit in particular are far more advanced with that approach than perhaps we are. I think there’s a lot we can learn from you guys about how you’ve gone about that. I know Matt, when we spoke previously, we’ve talked about how we can learn from you guys.

Matt Macaras: 

Yeah. Like I said, I think it’s going to start to become industry best practices, one that’s going to be driven from necessity because of the labor shortages now. But as that becomes more and more common, organizations are going to start to realize, I think, that upskilling and instilling that culture is going to give them better attrition rates. They’re not going to lose as many people. They’re going to have just better culture in general because people are going to be happy that they’re progressing and moving around and getting exposed to different things. I think it’s going to help not only increase the skills of the business, but also help the business retain those skills.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. I think that that also extends to the InEight University model as well. It’s around providing people the opportunity to self-learn also. I think a lot of organizations and staff, if you’re not developing yourself, you certainly are probably being left behind in today’s rapid pace of change in the industry. There are a couple of other points that I want to make, but before we shift gears, there’s a question in the chat from Jason and Matt, probably pointed to you really. Whilst on the topic of resource challenges, does the InEight package offer up a rostering model particularly around that boots on ground approach?

Matt Macaras: 

Yeah, it does. We don’t build out a roster as a three in one roster, but what we enable you to do is start to plan your work and plan what people, what equipment you’re going to need to be doing that work through building up detailed work plans, work packages, and then pushing that down even to a lower level and into daily planning where we can now start to assign, okay, I need so many people to do these activities. If we plan that appropriately, are we going to make our productivity rates or not? Then being able to align that with your three-week schedule, your 90-day plan, your 180-day plan, whatever it is that you are using. So yeah, we do enable that within the solutions and make it easy to see who you’re using, when you’re using, and how you’re using them.

Andrew Harris: 

Thanks, Matt. Great question, Jason. That does, I guess, dovetail into another topic of how can we use technology across the sector to be more effective at things like resource utilization. There’s a lot of media about the fact, even if the borders were completely open, we simply can’t recruit enough people to now help us out. So we’ve got to look at other ways to do it. I guess maybe Henry, from just a digital experience perspective, how do you see digital helping us achieve some of those efficiency goals?

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. Well, the history of information technology is one of automation and therefore, replacing ever more complex tasks with computing power rather than humans. I think you’re right, the labor shortage we’ve got at the moment is accelerating that like we’ve never seen before. What we really see is a movement towards things like digital twins, a virtual representation of the real world models that enable you to go not just the design and engineering, but the operations and the maintenance. Then you say, “Well, I want to integrate that into my project controls system. I also want to integrate my finance systems, my occupational health and safety,” and the list goes on and on and on and on. And what you quickly find is that none of these systems were ever designed to really talk to each other effectively.

So then you end up with, how do we make them all talk so that we don’t have armies of people grabbing information from one system and manually transferring it to another system with all the errors that go along with that and all the waste in time and resources? So we’re seeing a lot of our customers focus on what’s become known as digital transformation, but is really about harnessing data they’ve got and turning it into information that’s useful. Then accompanying that, we’re seeing a movement towards greater visualization of information. So it’s not enough to just have numbers on a page, but we all want to see graphs. We want to see it presented in a way that tells us how to make better, faster decisions in the interest of our business. I have got all of these things going on at the same time. Then there’s a lot to grapple with for our customers, as I’m sure you’re seeing, Andrew, and Matt as well.

Matt Macaras: 

Yeah. I think you hit on something key there, Henry, that the industry has never had a problem with collecting data. We’ve always had more information than we know what to do with. It’s transforming that data into information, into knowledge, and then into wisdom so that we can then take that and as you said, turn it into graphs, turn it into charts that we can then make proactive decisions. Those proactive decisions are now going to enable you to work smarter and not harder and to minimize risks on projects, to be out more in front than we ever thought we could be before, all allowing you to streamline your processes, streamline the work that’s happening on site, to maximize what you can do with labor and minimize any potential issues that you may have.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. I think if you take that to its logical extension, you quickly end up in the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Because once you’ve got all that working properly, you can endure things like predictive maintenance and then you can be much more proactive in the way you are managing your assets. But to get there is a hard road. I’m often that amused by customers that say, “Well, we want to use machine learning and artificial intelligence,” and then you’ve got to go on a journey from, what data have you got? Where is it? What condition is it in? How do we get it into a usable format? How do we enable you to make better decisions? Only once you’ve done all of that can you start looking at the sexier end of things like predictive maintenance and the use of machine learning.

Matt Macaras: 

Yeah. It’s even more than just that predictive maintenance thing, to simplify it a little bit more, being able to take your past productivities on projects, the past historical cost information, and just compare that to what you’re estimating today. Are we in line with what we’ve done in the past? So we can drive confidence in our projects, drive confidence in our estimates, or taking schedules and maybe a knowledge library of schedules instead of copying and pasting one as your starting point for a new project. Use machine learning from a segment or a series of projects and use that to drive confidence or to create schedules or enable that benchmarking from a time perspective as well.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. In a way, this talk about labor shortage, data scientists, very high demand because of exactly these reasons. We’ve got a team of data scientists and I’d love to have more of them. But I think all of our industries will have to become acquainted with data science one way or another.

Andrew Harris:

Oh, absolutely, Henry. I think maybe there’s some work to be done on the cloning technology as well to try and help us fill that resource gap and information visualization. The story it tells is certainly something that is a constant topic of conversation. There’s a darling child of the Australian investment community called Canva that’s headquartered here. They recently acquired an organization, I think it was in the UK, that specialize in data visualization. I don’t think it’s unique certainly to our sector, but very much, I knew business requirement. I think that’s one of those examples of what’s possible today was probably not possible 10 years ago with the advancement in digitization and those sorts of things as well.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah, and one that InEight’s all too familiar with, cloud computing, the ability to have massive processing power almost at your fingertips, usually through a browser is completely revolutionized the way we can access information and perhaps more importantly, the cost of it has plummeted. In a world where most things are going up, the cost of computing power has absolutely plummeted over the last decade.

Andrew Harris:

Let’s hope the chip shortages that are well-renowned around the world at the moment don’t change that for us.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. I don’t think it will, because your choices when it comes to a cloud computing provider are reasonably limited. You can either go down a Microsoft Azure, or an Amazon Web Services or a Google Cloud, and then you quickly run out of options in terms of scale. Those guys have so much purchasing power. They seem to be going from strength to strength.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Macaras: 

The other option that you have is to go with some of the smaller providers where you can put your own hardware in their building, but then you start losing, exactly as you just mentioned, Henry, you lose that scale of purchasing power. You lose efficiency. Sometimes, they’re a bit not as fast. So yeah, everything is migrating to those larger clients from what we’ve seen.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, indeed. Both of you guys had the opportunity to speak to a number of organizations between owners and contractors and engineering firms in very different capacities. I’d really be open to just more of an opinion piece on how do you feel maybe owners versus contractors or the industry at large is actually handling some of these industry challenges.

Henry Okraglik:

All right. I can talk a little bit about engineering. It’s no great secret, WSP’s a very acquisitive company. I haven’t total up the number of companies, but I think we’ve done well over 50 acquisitions in the last six or seven years. We do at least a few every year and a couple of them have been pretty big, Parsons Brinckerhoff to name one and more recently, Golder. When I joined the company 12 years ago, there was 15,000 people we’ve listed on the London Stock Exchange. We’re now nudging 55,00, 56,000 enlisted on the Toronto Stock Exchange and headquartered in Montreal. This is an industry trend. We’ve seen massive consolidation in the engineering sector as we gobble up companies and expand both horizontally and vertically in different discipline areas. That’s been a huge fundamental shift. You’ve got these mega engineering companies. It’s not just us, but a lot of our competitors as well.

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. I think the other thing that we’ve seen in this space, and it probably spans both the owners and the contractors, but it’s relative to size where they’re both tackling these challenges a little bit differently. We start seeing that the smaller organizations are leveraging technology to catch up and try and leapfrog some of the larger incumbents, because they’re a bit more nimble. They can implement things faster. They can get the buy-in and roll it out faster across the business and get to some of those efficiencies. What we’re now seeing as well is that larger organizations are trying to do the exact same thing, but coming up against challenges in terms of how do I roll it out over such a broad organization or standardize such a broad organization on certain practices. We see a lot of the larger organizations struggle to do that and the ones that are doing it well are the ones that are spending the time. They’re doing really a lot of internal communication and stakeholder buy-in across all aspects of the business.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah, Matt, I think you touched on an interesting point. Part of my job is to look around at what’s going on around the industry. When I look at where the really cutting edge stuff, the stuff that’s going to drive future efficiency and digitization, a lot of it is being done by small, nimble companies sometimes, startup companies. Sometimes, they’re funded by private equity and a lot of them are doing really, really interesting stuff. In a way, that would be very difficult for large organizations like WSP to do. So one of the things I’m looking at at the moment is, how can we benefit by partnering or investing or otherwise having some association with these companies and help them by giving them the scale and reach that we bring to the table and something that’s of mutual benefit? Now, none of those are easy things to do. Small companies, usually, they go, “Oh, WSP, big company. You’ll just dominate us,” and so trying to navigate this pathway, but I’m convinced more and more that is the future is working with smaller companies and finding a way that works for us.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. I think, Henry, that maintaining agility is something that’s going to be so important, I think. We’ve seen so many industries be disrupted. There’s plenty of good ones around Blockbuster and Netflix and all of those sorts of ones. But I think our own industry, it’s almost at that point of needing to continually self-disrupt to remain agile and to keep forward-looking. How are you seeing that play out in some of those companies that you’re talking to?

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. I think there’s an irony here in that the larger the infrastructure project, the larger the legal liabilities and responsibilities, and therefore, they can really only ever be done by large contractors or large engineering firms. On the other hand, if you’re looking for innovation, you have to go right down the other end of the spectrum. I think one of the challenges for us is how we unite those two things because that’s just the reality. If you’re doing a $16 billion infrastructure project, it’s always going to be done by one of the large contractors, which, let’s face it, there’s maybe only a handful in this country that will take those on and a handful of corresponding engineering companies. But if you want innovation, you’ve got to go somewhere else, I think. Look a lot harder and work out how to reconcile those two competing forces. I don’t have a solution for you. I [crosstalk].

Andrew Harris:

[crosstalk] magic bullet.

Henry Okraglik:

I wish I did have a solution. If anyone’s got one out there, please, I’d be very keen to hear it.

Andrew Harris:

I do think we’ve seen, particularly in the transport sector, I know in Victoria, where I live, that the road side of the transport infrastructure, they’ve tried to create smaller packages of work for some of those smaller, maybe more agile contractors in the tier two and tier three space. But as you said, those larger capital projects really are the ones where it’s put to the test at scale and they’re also the hardest ones to apply it to.

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. I think part of it, Henry, is organizations need to transition to being learning organizations, where you are… When we’ve talked about the data aspect and the technology aspect, but the way to apply those and scale them across the business, I think, is all about continuous improvement and learning, identifying those, and passing that on, and § to do that in mass, you’re right, is still the question, but transforming those organizations into a learning organization to work continually after those improvements and then propagating that is really the only way, I think, especially for those large-scale projects that you’re going to get those efficiencies and those ideas.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Potentially, where we’re seeing some of that change is maybe an appetite from the private sector to adopt some of those newer ways of working. We all know that state and federal governments are typically quite conservative in their approach. I think maybe there’s an opportunity for us to continually explore that agility in a number of the private sector projects. I think, Henry and Matt, I guess the push to net zero that’s consuming the world at the moment may give an opportunity for us to start to look at that with some of those renewable energy projects and new types of technology of hydrogen and those sorts of things. What are you seeing in that space?

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah. I know one of the projects that WSP has got going globally is how we integrate things like carbon calculator and greenhouse gas emissions into our engineering modeling. So integrating it into the tools we use like [inaudible] or geospatial tools, because it makes sense that as you are designing it to not only look at what your engineering options are, but look at the impacts of different decisions you are making on and things like embodied energy and carbon usage or waste water, whatever it might be. We’re starting to look at that now. Traditionally, what’s happened is you’ve had life cycle analysis, software vendors operating in a silo, and you’ve had engineering providers like Autodesk and Bentley operating in a silo.

Now, we’re trying to bring them all together into the same modeling type software. I think we’re getting there and I think we’ll get there fairly quickly because the imperative is so huge and contracts are requiring it now. WSP, I know, is totally committed to pursuing a net zero agenda and we want to do it from a baseline engineering. Most of the carbon consumption is built in at the design stage. By the time it’s built, it’s way, way too late, so we’ve got an enormous role and responsibility to play here, I think.

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. We’re seeing that a lot from a contractor lens too. We’re seeing more and more the need and requirements to capture carbon utilization, wastage, those types of things from subcontractors, as well as from direct work from a contractor perspective, but also starting to do that in the estimating phase. So not only bringing it from engineering during the design phase, but calculating what your carbon usage is going to be at the estimating phase so you can start to adjust even back then and make sure that you’re calculating into your price what those adjustments need to be to reduce emissions and provide an overall greener project.

Andrew Harris: 

Yeah. Great insight. I think, yeah, opportunity for the whole industry to be, I guess, taking the charge on that. Might be good opportunity just to pause a couple. We’ve got a question in the chat from [Andre]. Henry, pointed to you. Are you seeing customers willing to pay more for lower carbon intensity assets?

Henry Okraglik:

I think-

Andrew Harris:

How is that affecting price, I guess, is the question.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah. I think that varies from country to country. Australia, I think most people would agree, we’ve been laggards in adopting net zero and having climate change policy. I don’t think we’ve seen the impacts of that here, but certainly in the UK where I get a lot of visibility in the Nordic countries and certain parts of the US, that’s absolutely the case. It is one of the criteria on which you assess, judge, and award projects. Absolutely. That’ll come here and it’ll come quicker than probably a lot of us think.

Andrew Harris:

I do think we end up the recipients of those, particularly the European trends. Their governance and compliance regimes are probably a couple of years ahead of us. We’ve seen things like NEC for contracting methods that were born out of the UK start to hit certain industries. Again, goes back to the agility, things that are happening to others, all of a sudden, happen here and we’ve got to be able to move quickly.

Henry Okraglik: 

I’d like to see us leading perhaps a little bit more than following. You and I have been involved in that NEC for contract project before and yeah, it holds out a lot of promise for collaborative contracting in a way that we don’t usually see here.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Matt, how are you seeing that from all of your client engagements as well?

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. Similar thing. Clients, they’re all focused on green nowadays. It’s, what can we do to reduce emissions? The industry, you’re right, we’re a couple years behind the EU in particular, but I also think that organizations, private organizations, venture capitals are starting to realize that there is money to be made in going green as well. So it may cost more to build these projects and get them stood up for maybe a few more hurdles today, but they’re starting to see that there’s additional money that can be made from it. Once you get a solar farm up or once you get a wind farm up, the cost of producing electricity is virtually nothing. It’s just some small maintenance cost. I think what we’ll see particularly here in Australia is that we’re going to drive towards green hydrogen, green ammonia, other ways to export this energy around the world because we have the abundance of wind and solar to be able to generate these things at a very, very low price.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. One of the interesting changes is the adoption of renewable energy that despite really not that much guidance from the Commonwealth government, the private sector is investing and households are investing in renewables, and that’s of course, causing downstream issues with the whole grid and the ability of the grid to deal with on and off again type fluctuating electricity generation. So it’s forcing the government to deal with these issues. It’s a very interesting situation we’re in. I think from a technology point of view, we are getting away from the use of the traditional technologies that we see in traditional electricity generation like SCADA and moving more into the modern web-based world. So I think from a technology point of view, renewables and technology, to me, go hand in hand.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, agree, and a massive trend that we’re seeing as well. I think it presents some of the risks that probably are particularly around cyber threat and those sorts of things as we pivot to more IP-based asset technologies and those sorts of things. But I also think it’s not just the on off power generation, but it’s the location of the generation now is spread in such a varied fashion. We’ve got, I think, passing legislation or hopefully soon, around the seabed leasing for offshore wind farm, again, creates another challenge, I think, for the energy sector and particularly the national operators of the transmission network.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah. I’m pretty sure that the latest amendments to the Critical Infrastructure Act have got either gone through the lower house or about to. They are going to be very, very far-reaching for all of us. Our requirements for security and the government’s ability to examine how much security you’re applying to critical assets may broaden the definition of critical assets hugely. So it’s going to impact pretty much every infrastructure project, I’d say. It’s been lost in the noise that surrounds politics in this country, but I think for those of us in the industry, it’s probably worth coming to grips of that. We’ve had many of our customers who have already got on the front foot and have looked at what the implications are for their business as well.

Andrew Harris: 

Yeah. I think it’s important for all of us to stay across that because there’s going to be a reliance on the technology providers to help support and address and capture the governance and compliance requirements related to that.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah.

Andrew Harris: 

What’s really interesting, that pivot to renewable and net zero is obviously driving a surge in the mining sector as well, because obviously, for all of that, you need latest rare earths and you need a bunch of iron oil for your steel and so many other things. So going back to your point at the start, Henry, around the perfect storm, all of these attributes are combining to deliver some just simply amazing assets, but creating some challenges for us all along the way.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah.

Matt Macaras: 

[crosstalk].

Henry Okraglik: 

I was reading the other day that Tesla have been very keen to ensure their supply of lithium and have actually gone into a joint venture with a company in New Caledonia to exclusively supply lithium to Tesla because they’re so worried about global shortages and the price rises that inevitably will result for the demands for batteries that they’ve gone a completely different direction. I thought that was a really innovative way of approaching. They’ve taken a 50% interest in this lithium company in New Caledonia.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s like in the old days, Ford buying a share in an iron oil company to make sure they’ve got steel to make their cars.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. That’s a really interesting shift. Lithium’s rare.

Matt Macaras: 

And it’s cyclical as well because all of those mines that we’re talking about are all starting to transition to green energy as well. There were announcements, I think it was earlier this week or late last week about FMG planning to install solar panels and turbines, those types of things to transition their minds off of diesel and national gas for power generation. So it’s going to start to become a cyclical thing. There are new regulations in place or coming in place that are going to require minors and fabricators to report on not only their emissions, but also the emissions of where their products are going. So if you’re producing iron oil, you now have to take into account the emissions that are being generated to turn that into steel in your reporting. So they’re going to be doing anything and everything possible to reduce their carbon footprint to make themselves look better and come in under any new industry regulations.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Great insight, Matt. It’s crazy that we’ve only got six minutes to go this morning. One of the things I wanted to bring maybe the conversation back to, we’ve talked a lot about process and technology, a little bit about the people side of things we touched on. Jason dropped a question in the chat around… It talks about, does InEight have training materials for our customers? We absolutely do. We run InEight University and learn.ineight for those individuals and for our customers. We do, as part of our implementation approach, we talk about train the trainer implementation strategies and those sorts of things. I guess, Henry, firstly from WSP’s perspective, how do you think we can continue to help people stay abreast of what is a constantly moving industry?

Henry Okraglik:

Well, I think webinars like this are an obvious answer. I think from WSP, we see it as an opportunity for enhanced client engagement, having a conversation. As engineers, we’re always looking for opportunities to talk to our customers quite aside from responding to tenders or the usual process by which we procure work, but talking to them about exactly these type of issues is, I think, a really useful thing to do. Then we get a good feel for both the industry and the specific customers and what they’re looking for and where they see things heading so that we can respond to that. I think it’s really good topics for engagement, all the things we’re covering, the sort of things we talk to our customers about.

Andrew Harris:

And Matt, any thoughts on that one from your perspective?

Matt Macaras:

No, it’s the same thing from my perspective as well. It’s opening up the conversation and having the dialogue to get the industry insights to pass the knowledge on from one organization to the next. What we’ll find is as we’re expanding the conversation, we’ll get more and more ideas and it will then start to snowball. A lot of these solutions will start to come to solutions for a lot of these industry problems around labor shortages, skills shortages, those types of things.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Great.

Henry Okraglik: 

Yeah. It always interests me that when do these things reach some turning point that it occurs to you that it is an industry trend. You often think of things like BIM or digital twin. When did they become and why did they become so topical that everywhere you go, people are talking about them? It’s always interesting to me about how these things occur and then having discussions with customers and explaining to them about what is a digital twin. To me, that needs to be contextualize with the customer’s business, the customer’s situation, understanding the problem they’re trying to solve, which digital twin may or may not be an answer. But these things become very fashionable and very topical and worth talking about.

Matt Macaras: 

And also, when does it become an industry trend in terms of the conversation? But there’s a difference between the conversation and actually implementation.

Henry Okraglik:

Absolutely.

Matt Macaras: 

So when does the conversation turn into an actual action and become industry standard and propagate from there?

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, I think that’s a great point, Matt. We’re seeing customers and around that digital transformation. Probably a closing question for the two of you, I know we’ve got one more question in the chat, but we will get back to… I can’t actually see who asked that about InEight Estimate, but we’ll get back to that person after the session. But the role of digital transformation and digital transformation leadership in the industry, what are the benefits that you guys think that’s really going to bring to us as a closing thought? Maybe Henry, we’ll start with you.

Henry Okraglik:

Yeah. I think it really touches on some of the things we talked about earlier about increased efficiency, ability to make better decisions, increased agility. But I’m also mindful that when we talk to customers about digital transformation, to me, it’s about understanding, what are the problems you’re trying to solve? What are the issues that are most concerning to you? The digital transformation then becomes a banner to solve those problems. It’s not an answer in itself. It’s usually more about an understanding and a methodology and approach rather than a solution all by itself. I think, again, it’s another one of those terms. It’s very popular that you can use to start a decent conversation to understand it at a really deep level. What are the issues that customers is grappling with?

Andrew Harris: 

Yeah. Great, Henry. And Matt?

Matt Macaras:

Yeah. I think Henry summed it up perfectly there. It’s an enabling technology to have those conversations and solve those industry problems. Right now, it’s going to be helping out with the skill shortages, the labor shortages, finding efficiencies in what we can do for constructing assets, managing assets, those types of things. That was a perfect summary from my perspective.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah. Great. Just simply great conversations to be getting in with our customers. I think it’s a really nice way to tie off today’s session. I can’t believe we’ve just blown through 45 minutes. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. First of all, Henry, a huge thanks to you for spending time with us in your role. I know you’ve got plenty on your plate, so really appreciate you spending the time with us today.

Henry Okraglik: 

My pleasure. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew Harris:

Matt, thank you very much as always. It’s always great to be on sessions like these with you. For the audience, thank you very much for staying with us this morning and for joining us. There’s some great questions in there and those we haven’t got to, we will definitely get back to. A quick reminder that a lot of information that we’ve covered today and a lot of information in the chat can be found at ineight.com. We have those two learning assets of learn.ineight and InEight University.

A quick reminder that there’s a really exciting webinar coming up in March for us, which is Women in Construction and hearing how women are building the future of construction herein APAC. We’re going to welcome [Renee Plats] as well as… Who else have we got coming up? We’re going to have Renee Plats from Arcadis, Vivienne Norton from Delivering 4 Customers on the Sydney Water program, Kajal from Sydney Water itself as well, and some team members from InEight. I’m sure that’s going to be a fantastic session, so make sure you sign in to that. No doubt, everyone will be able to get access to the recording of this session. Thanks very much to everyone and have a great rest of the day.

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