Capital & Contract Management

Manage contract workflows from start to finish, from contractor/supplier selection through contract closeout including the related buyouts, pay requests and change orders. With our capital and contract management solutions, you can facilitate contracts and changes throughout the project, resulting in a 20% reduction in turnaround time.

Learn More >

Connected Analytics

Make real-time decisions as you gain visibility into metrics, KPIs and trends, driving continuity in operations.

Learn More >

Document Management

Our document management solution helps you streamline the capture, review, management and distribution of project documents. Because all your project documentation is stored in a centralized repository, you can reduce processing time by 30%.

Learn More >

Estimating & Project Cost Management

Our project cost management solutions help you create more accurate and timely project estimates, increase your forecasting accuracy, and improve the anticipated project ROI.

Learn More >

Field Execution Management

Manage work packages and daily crew plans to deliver and capture predictable results in the field, reducing project costs 10%.

Learn More >

Integrated Project Controls Platform

Only InEight provides a complete portfolio of capital project management software that supports enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Learn More >

Planning, Scheduling & Risk

Collaboratively create and risk-adjust plans to achieve more than 75% confidence in project execution.

Learn More >

Safety, Quality & Commissioning

Capture and analyze safety, compliance and quality data directly from the field, reducing rework by 10%.

Learn More >

Virtual Design & Construction

Use an aggregated 3D model as a common data environment, increasing clash resolution efficiency by more than 200%

Learn More >

THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION EXPERIENCE : Episode One

APTIM and Kane Constructions: Pre-Planning

 

11/03/2021

54 Min Watch Time

Request a Demo

Thanks for contacting us. A member of our team will follow up with you shortly.

Rick Deans:

We’re so glad you could join us. My name is Rick Deans. I’m an executive vice president here at InEight, and I’m excited to kick off this four-part episode series, where our customers and industry leaders will share their insights on their digital transformation journeys. Our guests on each episode will share their firsthand experiences and other practical solutions and learnings to help you with your digital transformation. I do hope you have the chance to catch all four episodes in November and December, as each episode will cover a different phase of the project life cycle from pre-planning all the way through to operations. If you can’t catch all the episodes, register for the series and we will send you details on how you can view them on demand via ineight.com. So now let’s kick off episode one by welcoming Kim Arrant, VP of technology and innovation at APTIM, and Joanne Farrell from the National Association of Women in Construction advisory board in APAC and also GM of Kane Construction.

Glad to have you both with us here today. Before we dig into our topic today, I’d like to have Kim and Joanne introduce themselves.

Kim Arrant:

Thanks, Rick. So my name is Kim Arrant, as Rick said, and I have the vice president role over actually what we call business transformation. And so the role of myself and our team is we are responsible for bringing technology to our service lines and projects, just simply said. But not only just as the software and the technology itself, but we’re also responsible for helping them integrate that new technology [inaudible] into how they work every day. Okay. So that’s a little bit of the difference there. APTIM as a whole specializes in a plethora of things; engineering, program management, environmental services, disaster recovery. We do some complex facility maintenance and ONM, and of course, construction services. And we serve both the government, federal, state and local, oil, gas and chem, industrial commercial clients. So you can see right off the bat, our portfolio is pretty broad and so the challenge with technology and technology implementation is quite interesting.

So my experience with construction particularly over the past few years was a focus that was brought to me, which I was in a challenge that was brought to me, I was very excited to take on, was around our implementation and push into the world of advanced work packaging. And so to do that, as we all know on the phone, it requires a certain level of automation or digitization, or you just can’t do it. And so that was my initial entry point into that world. And I have to say, I do love construction.

Rick Deans:

That’s great. Thanks, Kim. Joanne, tell us a little bit more about your role on the advisory board at NAWIC and your background in construction with Kane Construction.

Joanne Farrell:

Yeah, thanks, Rick. So I’ve literally grown up in construction so next year is my 25th year. So started out as a carpentry apprentice and have sort of worked my way through the industry over the years. And now, like you said, the general manager at a construction company in Canberra in Australia. So yeah. And then as the side hustle as everybody has one is the work done for Women in Construction, which I’m quite passionate about because I’ve always often out on construction sites been the only female, particularly the only trade based female. So the only one with a tool belt and a tool bag walking around physically doing the works. And so I’m quite passionate about seeing more women in construction and particularly in the trade area of construction. I think in Australia at the moment, it’s less than 2% of women participate in that area. And I think at the moment, we’ve actually taken a bit of a backward step here for overall participation. It’s about 12.7% for women participation in construction overall.

So that’s sort of more of a white collar area as well. So it’s pretty dismal, given that here 50% of the population are women and only that percentage are actually working in the industry. So a lot of my work that I do is around programs and different sort of implementation of different things to actually see more women be able to enter the industry on different levels and actually then stay, so they’re retained in the industry. So that’s been a large part of my work, particularly over the last decade is helping to change those statistics and certainly various organizations such as NAWIC. So the National Association of Women in Construction amongst various others are all working in that same space to actually increase that participation rate. So that’s what keeps me busy day to day.

Rick Deans:

Well, with our panel today, I’m sure there’ll be some young women out there maybe watching this that will be inspired to join your ranks in the industry. We’re thrilled to have you both with us. From an InEight perspective, we recently released our global capital projects outlook to really pulse check and interview the industry. And we went out and talked to about 300 or so of the world’s largest capital project owners and contractors across Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Americas. No surprise, digital transformation is seen as the biggest source of opportunity for the coming year across all three regions. It used to be that our sector was really last on the list for the adoption of technology. We just rarely see it anymore. Now, capital project owners and contractors recognize they can’t operate without technology and they’re well on their way toward connected integrated solutions. This was a recurring theme within the report. The industry is ready for more advanced technology while still preserving the ease of use and ability to have an end to end set of solutions.

So, Kim, we’ll pick on you here for a minute. Knowing digital transformation is top of mind for majority of owners and general contractors, what does digital transformation mean to you and what are some of the catalysts that drove your organization’s digital transformation journey?

Kim Arrant:

Yeah, Rick. I’ll have to say, you said the right word there. You said the magic word, digital transformation for APTIM means opportunity. For us and also in our targeted service line markets and offerings, it represents differentiation and that’s very important to us, whether it is lowering the cost of project delivery, whether it’s creating something creative, adaptive, unique solution that we can provide to our customer, we as a culture are mandated to think differently so it just fits right in that line. We also have a firm belief that, like you said, everything’s going digital transformation. There’s just no question about it. And if you want to move forward in innovation and take advantage of the emerging technology that’s coming out every day, you’ve got to be digital. I mean, there’s just no way to use a big cheap pad number two pencil, write and execute your work and take advantage of machine learning or artificial intelligence or the digital twin and some of the virtual reality capture tools. You can’t do it.

So that’s what it has meant to us and so we have put it top of the list for APTIM.

Rick Deans:

Kim, you mentioned differentiation and there’s a tendency to think about differentiation in maybe the eyes of a potential client or the eyes of a potential owner. Talk about the other end of the spectrum though. New people coming into the industry, what does differentiation mean there and how does technology help APTIM achieve a level of differentiation as it relates to recruiting and retaining new talent?

Kim Arrant:

Oh, absolutely. So just looking for and finding those resources, in the work that we’ve done thus far, we have found much success in the area of retention and bringing in younger talent or new talent because love the iPad, right? Or even an engineer coming in, if you can put them directly in [inaudible] and using some of the tools themselves, it’s no longer siloed into a discipline, but people come in, they want to do their jobs and they want to be enabled to do their jobs with the technology and the solution. So, yes, I think it’s a great advantage and it gets the workforce for the most part very excited.

Rick Deans:

Well, that’s great. And Joanne, what’s your perspective on digital transformation and APAC and what does it mean to you as someone who’s been in the industry for over 25 years?

Joanne Farrell:

Yeah. Look, it’s something that I think has, like you was saying, it’s inside opportunity. So I think businesses like ours are finding more and more that we need to adapt to the current environment. So COVID has wreaked havoc on the construction industry here in Australia and we’ve only just recently been released from a hard lockdown where we couldn’t access our construction sites so we were working from home. So when does construction work from home 20 years ago, but we have the ability to do that now because of the access to technology that we have. And we could actually keep the projects going in the background whilst we weren’t physically doing work, but we could certainly still address the other deliverables that we need to do through those apps and through those other systems. From a site perspective, even as of yesterday, I had our engineers out on site FaceTiming our consultants [inaudible]. Consultants doing inspections of service trenches and sorting out design details.

And what we’re doing is actually using all of these different apps to talk in real-time and mark up drawings and have conversations. And these people are in completely different states to where we are. And I’m sure you guys are aware how big Australia is and how far apart we are, but to have these real time live conversations, to go in and actually resolve issues right there on the spot, rather than having those extended periods of delight between these conversations in different things, it just streamlines the whole process for us because as we all know, construction is always about time. It’s always about doing it more efficiently, get it done faster. From day one when you’re onsite, you’re always behind. Every job that we tender always has a ridiculously tight program that we have to achieve. So you’re always looking for those little efficiencies, those little gains day to day. And look, that’s where technology comes into play and it will continue to come into play significantly as people adapt and change and embrace it more and more.

Rick Deans:

Yeah. And that makes perfect sense. It’s so critical to keep those projects moving for a variety of reasons, right? The owners have vested interests in getting their asset up and running and being productive as soon as possible, but also just the continued employment of these essential workers, right? To be able to keep those projects moving. It’s super important. Kim, tell us about your journey and what were some of the key business challenges that APTIM has been faced with in the planning phase of construction?

Kim Arrant:

Well, I think one of the first ones that we should talk about, because I would imagine this is a lot of commonality with a lot of other companies and they share this challenge is, today our technology implementation has been very project focused. So we will go into a project. If they allow for technology in their budget or if they want to include that in their execution strategy and for that project is where we focus. And really to be effective and to do this in an effective way, we have to do it more at a service line, default enterprise level to drive standards and drive common practices. And more importantly, and I think you mentioned it earlier, about taking down those silos of data because as we all know in the planning process and a big key into the whole advantage and success of AWP is to bring everyone to the table, right? And so the key way of doing that and what we found was through digitization.

So the key challenge there for us was changing that mindset as a company of going from project focus to that enterprise focus. And a big part of that was around creating that strategy. And then honestly, it was also about how we’re paying for technology and reducing our costs of technology. There was a lot of advantages. I know we’ll talk about that some here in a little bit, but there were a lot of advantages we realized to that as well. I mean, another challenge that we all know about and we all face is around change management and I mean, we could have a whole session on that, right? But one of the things I wanted to share with you, which it was interesting to me because it was not expected and to those that I’ve spoken with about it, it was kind of interesting to them too. When I came into this, as you know, I just told you, I don’t have Joe’s 25 years. I have come in, I’m a quick learner.

I come in, I listen and I learn, and I heard a lot in the implementation and through the process. Ms. Kim, we appreciate what you’re saying, but you’ve never stuffed [inaudible]. However, what I did find in this as I learned is they kept telling me that these guys are coming in and we’re training the foreman to use the tools and digitizing their processes and capturing their data and pushing digital drawings and all of these things back out to them. And Kim, you’re never going to get them to do this. You’re never going to get them to like a grade to this. They do good to show up. They’re not going to bring that iPad. Guys, that was absolutely not the case. Absolutely not the case. What I found was as long as I assured them in the process, you can do this, that they’re part of that decision and that what we’re doing and what we’re asking them to do is for their success and enabling them, they were on board.

But I will tell you, I had many look at me and say, yeah, Kim, you’re asking me to do this because it’s helping somebody back in the office. I’m like, no, no, no, wrong. Let me tell you why. So I think it’s very important to focus on the field aspect of that. But the unique place that I found that was a challenge was actually in the middle, right? It wasn’t senior leadership. Senior leadership understood the value. They were saying, go, do it, get it done. The guys in the field were embracing it, but it was in that middle. And you’ve heard it in history called and we’ve labeled it that too, that it’s the frozen middle. It’s the ones that on a project side are actually in the leadership positions and they manage up and saying, yeah, we’re going to go. But then they manage down saying, whoa guys, this is how we know to do this. And so what we’re asking them to do almost became in addition to, and that’s failure. That’s not going to work.

So those were some really interesting challenges for us along with the types of data you get from an owner and the variation in that especially upfront with regard to planning, having time to plan, huge factor, right? You go into a job and it’s like, let’s get in the field, let’s go. Resources to plan and even justifying the cost of putting planning into that. I know that’s a lot of challenges, but believe me, as we talk through this, you can see how you can address them all.

Rick Deans:

And you mentioned too involving the field and having this be part of their solution and I think that’s so important, right? That you get that buy in and you get that ownership. Excellent points. Joanne, with your experience, would you say there are signs of a right time to transform digitally and what should companies look at when they’re evaluating the right technology for their business?

Joanne Farrell:

The right times was probably yesterday. But yeah, look, everybody walks around with iPhones and iPads and all this tech at their fingertips. And then we walk onto a construction site and all of a sudden this fear sets in and we think, oh, we can’t use this or we can’t do that because we’ve never done it that way. And it comes back to what Kim was saying around that frozen middle. It’s often in construction, the old, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Whatever the analogy is that we’ve done it the same way for so long, why would we change? And that whole, like Kim was saying, well, why are you making me do more work, but it’s the efficiency that you need to drive that point home is we’re making life easier. We’re trying to simplify it. We’re not giving you more work to do. We’re actually trying to make it less. And that’s the real opportunity and the real key to understanding how will this help out business?

What is going to be the effect, positive and negative? Negative is you’re going to have to train people, you’re going to have to change the mindset, and that is probably the hardest part of it. The positive is we become more efficient, we become more aware. We’re talking about systems where knowledge sharing and we’re talking about data is accessible straightaway. So that knowledge can be shared amongst multiple people, instead of just a couple of people having the keys to that, which is just crucial for any business in terms of growth and particularly for breaking down that frozen middle contingent of your business. When you’re trying to get maybe generationally some other people in business to step up, maybe drive some of these processes and systems that you want to use. All of that is part and parcel of that positivity. So we’re talking about an industry that is undergoing monumental change at the moment. We have to start changing our practices in terms of how we work, the materials that were used.

Our big conversation here right now is around, we don’t have the availability of the materials we traditionally use in construction. So from that level, we’re now trying to look at sustainable materials and source other things. So why don’t we actually take that same mindset and have that with digital transformation? There seems to be a reluctance there that’s sort of, until the problem gets big enough that it’s really causing an issue, we don’t want to address it. And that’s what I’ve seen sort of over the two plus decades of the industries, we’re very light to that. And I think that having these conversations and talking about this is actually going to drive and implement that in a lot quicker way, which means that we actually start to just see the results out on the site. And ultimately it’s the bottom line, right? Any efficiencies that we gain, any time that we can pick up, any way that we can train our people better to use these systems all reflects on our bottom line.

It saves us the time. We therefore are not expending so much money on these projects. We have a better outcome and it’s a better outcome for the client as well because we’re out of their way, much, much quicker.

Rick Deans:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I guess in a perfect world, the world would stand still while we were embarking on one of these grand initiatives like digital transformation. But if we’ve seen anything over the last couple of years, the world has continued to throw curve balls at us, hasn’t it? With, you mentioned material shortages, labor shortages. You look at the global supply chain right now and some of the things that are happening with all of these cargo ships waiting to get into ports to be offloaded. Kim, how has this impacted your organization and have you seen technology be an enabler to sort of navigate through some of these economic impacts?

Kim Arrant:

Well, I was just going to say, Rick, I mean, sometimes I know those forced issues are sometimes very, very painful, but I think oftentimes when we have time, we tend to procrastinate. So sometimes these forced issues are a blessing for change because it does force an issue. And what I’ve realized is things that tend to sit and spin, you’re sitting on [inaudible] or it’s real easy to kick the can down the road and we’ll do that when we have some time or a little bit later, you’re left with on time. And so if you can get it somewhere to a majority of 50, 60, 70% go and then drive the rest. And so actually I think some of these conditions have been very helpful in driving success into digital transformation, like the COVID situation, because what it did enable us to do from a digital perspective and from a planning and construction perspective is it allowed us to be more prepared. So it didn’t change the conditions. It didn’t help us get to materials any faster necessarily, but what it helped us to do was to have good informed plan Bs, right?

Because we had the data in front of us, we had the planning data in front of us, and we could see immediately based on the decision that we made one way or the other, what the consequences were going to be and we could easily see our next best choice. So I think from that perspective, it was very helpful. And then it also gave us more like Joe mentioned, the transparency between field and office was very key and knowing things very quickly and also that between us and our supplier from a supply chain perspective. In the digital world, time is just a minute and we can know things very quickly, and thus we can respond quickly. So while it certainly didn’t solve it all for us, I would never for a moment tell you that it did. I think it definitely positioned us better and it enabled us. Yeah.

Rick Deans:

The great accelerator, right? They say that the whole working from home model has really been compressed over the last 18 months and under normal circumstances, that could have taken a dozen years, right? But the whole remote workforce and the ability to find efficiencies where you can, I think, is really helped the industry as well.

Kim Arrant:

Let’s take the simple thing like using Teams and using the video. Before this all happened, people would have resisted that, like I don’t need that. I don’t want to do that.

Rick Deans:

Well, let’s just wait until next week when I’m in the office, right? And then you lose that momentum.

Kim Arrant:

So the simple things have really [inaudible]. Yeah. The great accelerator, I like that.

Rick Deans:

Kim, how did you handle change management and training that was required? Clearly, this stuff is not just drop it on a server somewhere and everybody’s up and productive the next day. What were some of the steps you took internally to do that digital transformation?

Kim Arrant:

Well, I can tell you, we have some lessons learned on training that I’m happy to share with you. So in training, and some of this was even more so pre-COVID, but one of the mistakes that we made, and I hope I can keep you guys from making, is don’t train too early. So when you’re trying to get systems up and going and you’re trying to get a project up and going and the tendency is to get to the field, let’s go, it’s [inaudible]. We’ve got people they’re sitting here. Kim, go ahead and train them. And we would purchase services from our solution and our technology solutions. We would come in and we’d have workshops. We would map the processes. Well, quite frankly, it was a little early and there was a lot of guessing going on. And I realized that there’s still value in that because you’re taking a step forward, but then oftentimes, weeks or even months can go by before you get to the field.

And I even had one project where resources even switched out by the time we got to the field. So the person I trained was no longer the person in the field that was championing the software. So don’t go too early. Make sure your timing is good and when you show somebody something, make sure it’s something that they’re going to use relatively soon or else they’re going to lose the value of that training. The other thing that we did was because of the iPad, we took advantage of a lot of video recording. We did a lot of recordings on Team and so we did a lot more on demand type training. We also did, and it was very effective on the front lines and in the field was around the buddy system. You’ve got to train the trainer. So we found that when you’re sitting in a training session, they’re a lot less likely to ask a question, right? Because they don’t want to look silly or they don’t want this or that.

And so what we did was we would find the people that seemed to have a propensity for it and were good with the technology. We’d bring them in, give them a sticker for their helmet or something. They love stickers, right? The helmet and say, this person is a champion or an AWP champion or something like that. And then they would be the person that somebody could stop and say, hey, can you answer this question for me? That was very helpful and had a very positive impact.

Rick Deans:

Well, that’s great. That’s great and I appreciate you sharing that with us. Joanne, have you seen similar challenges from your end and what implementation approach did you take at Kane Construction?

Joanne Farrell:

Yeah. Look, it’s very much the same thing. It’s that tiered approach and that filtering system where you really want to identify people pretty early on that are embracing what you’re trying to because they’re the ones who are going to drive it day to day out on sites. So like Kim was saying, if you’re sitting in a room full of people and pointing to things on a PowerPoint presentation, sure, they’re going to sit there and they’ll listen to you, but are you going to get that cold face action that you really need day to day. So is it going to be implemented? Is it going to be implemented correctly? And is that going to filter down to the people that really are the ones who you want to? So that tiered approach for us is very important. We establish similar sort of things and yes, we do love a hardhat sticker, Kim. Love them. So that’s super important, but sort of having that senior leadership group or that group of people.

And when you say senior leadership, you usually think about maybe it’s the people who are a bit older or it’s a generational thing, but really you’re talking about the people who are actually embracing that. So it might be generationally some younger people in your company who are very tech savvy. I mean, how many people now who work in construction actually are gamers and different people who actually in their spare time have access to all of this other technology and absolutely love it? They’re the ones that you actually want to get on board. They’re the ones who are actually going to show the old guy who’s been in the field for sort of 30 years and no, this is the way I’ve always done it, and they go, no, but just check this out. This is how easy it is. That’s the change. And they’re, like I said, those little efficiencies that you get. Great, great example for us is, and you guys probably know this, when you pour a slab on concrete, particularly a high rise construction, you want to get off as quickly as you can.

You want minimum week turnarounds between your floors, which means that your concrete strength and all the testing and everything that has to be done and all the QA documentation that has to be done has to be so fast. And it’s basically done or has been done traditionally in a paper format. Your structural engineers come out and they fill out their little notebook and they give you an inspection checklist and that has to be taken and uploaded somewhere else. And then you have your tests that are done when the concrete is poured and that goes to a lab and they crack cylinders. So there’s all this stuff. None of that is happening anymore. We have probes that we can put an app on our phone and put a probe in the concrete when we pour that concrete. And it is telling us a lot of time, as soon as you go in, how strong that concrete is at any given time. I mean, where was this years ago?

It didn’t exist, but we had this really clunky kind of system that involved all these processes, which now is just down to you picking up your phone and going, hey, I’ve reached my strength. We’re ready to go. We’re going again. That’s just one example of many examples of things now that we’re doing. And you can see some of the guys on site who concrete, have been pouring decks their entire life, who are just mind blown, absolutely mind blown by this sort of stuff, and basically saying where was this 20 years ago when we needed it. So I think that change is happening. I think it doesn’t have to be driven necessarily by the people who’ve been in your business the longest. It’s driven by the people who are savvy enough to understand the importance of it.

Rick Deans:

That’s such an important part, Joanne. I appreciate you bringing that up. And thus far, we’ve sort of discussed identifying business challenges, going out and looking for solutions for those challenges, but you’re absolutely right. None of that stuff and implementing those solutions, none of that stuff gets us anywhere unless we see those results, right? And that’s huge. Kim, what are some of the biggest benefits that your business has reaped because of the implementation of technology and specifically with your position to drive innovation within the organization?

Kim Arrant:

I mean, okay. So just generally, it’s just the value of data. I mean, I think the centralization, standardization, connecting and integrating those data, we’ve talked about it already, the transparency of data to field and in real time. Some of the examples that Joe was sharing are absolutely, we’ve realized that too. And especially even being able to do things remotely, but collaborate even visually using technology. Standardization of practice. So look, we got the value of data and all the things that we can know now and know how quickly we can know them and how accurately we can know them, but it drives consistency in how we work and there’s a huge efficiency and value in that as well. Well, the big thing too, the planning and then the way we’ve digitized, again, it’s that cross-functional view. It’s taken the walls down between our disciplines and they understand how now through that and the use of our great Six Sigma tool, the [inaudible], we now understand how our actions affect another group’s actions and vice versa, right?

We have suppliers and we have customers even internally, and our systems reflect that and will feed that and then that digitization makes it all visible to all. And a great example I think of the value of data as I always tell people is, focus on collecting the data, good data, rich data, accurate data as it’s being generated. So at the point of work, it may not be in the field, even in the office, but as the work is being done. And then the value of it on the back end just becomes a by-product of it all, right? So how we can look at it, we can integrate it. We can look at it in different ways. So don’t shortchange yourself to the purpose that it was collected to start with. And a great example of that to me is time. So we’ve always put time on a time sheet. A foreman puts time on a time sheet for his crew for what? For payroll, to get paid. So let’s take that for a minute and let’s say, okay, let’s take the time and let’s add [inaudible].

Well, suddenly through that connection and that integration now I know productivity. I don’t only know how long that person worked, but I know how much they got done. So then let’s take that productivity data and let’s connect it and integrate it back with the original estimate. What does that give me? That gives me a historical data that then I can benchmark against next time I’m bidding the next job. So the value just continues to grow. Let me take that time and let’s marry it up with incident safety data, and suddenly I get my metrics and my TRIR reporting and all of that for safety. So you see what I mean? It gives the connectivity and the integration and the digitization of that, making those data available in multiple functions and across the board, I could just go on and on. But the value, it’s immense.

Rick Deans:

I used to always position our tools that way, right? Is you’re going to get immediate value out of the tools because it is going to save you time and it is going to be more accurate than doing stuff maybe manually or in a spreadsheet, but you hit it right on the head. I always used to think that the real value of our solutions is that over time, you’re going to organically create this library of data that you’ll be able to leverage, make better business decisions, more timely business decisions, and you can really evolve to be more of a data-driven organization. Joanne, how about Kane Construction, having technology drives so much benefit and value. Maybe talk a little bit about some of the benefit you’re getting from the data, as Kim brought up. And then maybe just another question on that is, if it’s so great, why isn’t everyone doing this? What might be holding folks back from spearheading their own digital transformation journeys?

Joanne Farrell:

I think the collection of that information is critical because it’s the lessons learned part for us that is most critical. If we don’t learn about the things that we did wrong on one job and we carry that over, we start creating a bit of a legacy that becomes unworkable, and you’re only as good as the last job you built. So it’s the safety and quality aspects from collecting all that information from the site. And as exactly what Kim was saying, transferring between the field and the office is critical. So if we don’t have that information from the field about the things that we did wrong or the things that went wrong, or those lessons that have been learned, if they don’t transfer back into the office when we’re bidding a new job and we just approach it in exactly the same way, we’re not going to last too long. So it’s critical that that downstream upstream information is happening constantly and it’s got to happen really quickly. We’re bidding projects all the time.

So we’re constructing huge amounts of projects and from a Kane perspective, being as big as we are, that knowledge share. And it’s critical because we are across the Eastern Seaboard. We have officers in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. We’re doing the same types of projects and generally construction is all the same stuff, but we all know that there’s always this talk everywhere, and I’m sure you have it as much as we have here too, about the same issues in construction. The issues are the projects run late, the projects were unsafe and people were injured, the projects weren’t delivered with the quality expectation that a client sees fit. They’re the three main things. It’s rare that you would hear anything else. People talk about things blowing over budget, but they’re actually derived from those three key things. So metrics around safety. We have to report specifically on federally funded jobs.

The information and the data collection you have to have of your safety records is extensive and it’s becoming more and more, I think, detailed in terms of now the analysis that’s going on, on why people are still injuring themselves on construction sites. We have all these processes and systems in place to keep people safe. Why is it still one of the most dangerous industries to work in and why do we see so many things happen each day? So that is being analyzed to the nth degree to try and find out. And that all comes about from the data that we collect out on the site and the investigations that we do in terms of incidences. We had a guy hurt his back the other day, an excavator operator who was lifting up the bonnet to change the oil. The guy is in his fifties, he’s been doing it his whole life. He did one thing wrong on that particular day. He’s now injured his back. We did an entire investigation into it to understand how this event happens so we can prevent it happening again. So it’s critical that we understand that.

So if we see someone doing a similar sort of thing in the future, we know, hey, hang on a second. We know why we can’t do it that way. We know the process that has to be in place. And likewise for us, the focus really is around quality of construction. It’s the biggest thing that hits us after a job is complete and we’re in our defects liability period and we’re sort of doing our maintenance and doing things, and poor quality construction will come back and bite you years and years and years later and you will constantly be going back to a project and you never allow money. No one, and I know for a fact from having spoken to so many other companies. No one allows in the company to go back to a project three or four years after the fact to fix waterproofing issues or all of these other things that come about from poor construction, poor systems being in place to make sure that these things were done correctly in the first instance.

So that starts to really impact your bottom line on your future revenue and your future margin on all the things that you sort of didn’t foresee and expect. So if you’re not learning from that, if you’re not collecting all the information at the source at the time and feeding that back through your company, that’s going to happen time and time again. And there was no profitability in that. There’s no moving forward. There’s no innovation. You’re just going to be fixing these same old mistakes and never learning from it. So for us, the focus is on really gathering that information and dissecting that information and making sure that it’s disseminated out across the board, no matter which state you’re in, so we can actually understand, hey, we need to make sure that we don’t repeat these mistakes because actually it costs huge amounts of money and time for us, which is catastrophic for the business.

Kim Arrant:

So, Rick, let me share a metric with you around the benefit [inaudible] the planning. We talked about the benefit of digital transformation in general and access to data and all that. So I have a metric for you around the digitization of the process for just planning. So as we implemented, for us, we weren’t in a full EPC situation. We were just doing construction. So reality says, this is like WorkFace Planning on steroids, right? So we started planning and we were doing it with printed ISO, isometrics and by hand and putting things in Excel and by hand, and we were doing, let’s say pipe packages first. And we planned 80 plus some-odd packages in about a two week period with our team of planners. Once we got everything digital and we got systems up, so we had a model, we conditioned the model. We turned data into the model around time and materials and that kind of thing. And then the planners then we’re able to plan digitally within the model. We planned the remaining packages for pipe or mechanical, which was an excess of 450 packages in five working days.

Rick Deans:

So six times the volume in half the time.

Kim Arrant:

Yes. And then we had something that we could actually export. At that point, we had everything digital tied to the model. So we could actually at that point tie a takeoff to each work package, which allowed us then to take that and sequence the order in which we needed materials, which then we fed into our fabricators and et cetera. So yeah, we had efficiency and found efficiency there, but just the value in the digital planning and having it digitally in the way we could package it, it drove then how we worked, how the foremen were assigned work, how we calculated productivity, everything from there.

Rick Deans:

Yeah. And those metrics that you mentioned, I think the important piece is that was before anyone went out to the site and picked up a tool, right? That was just [crosstalk].

Kim Arrant:

Oh, absolutely. It was actually about four months before we ever went out and picked up a tool.

Rick Deans:

No, that’s great. And Kim, maybe you can comment on this as well. Joanne mentioned the availability of the data across the organization. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having customers in construction and visiting construction sites and being around construction, it’s a highly competitive field. How has the data availability tapped into that competitiveness? And have you seen where, hey, if X, Y, Z team is able to do it in 10 days, I’m going to do it in nine days. Have you seen that sort of-

Kim Arrant:

Oh, definitely. The other thing I think, which is really interesting is some of the things that we’ve done and some of our clients come back and they find interest in it. So can I do that? Can I get access to that? And so there’s an immediate interest and an immediate awareness of the value and the value proposition. Absolutely.

Rick Deans:

That’s amazing. And Joanne also mentioned quality, how quality is so important because things that we would normally associate with, bad things happening on a project, right? Schedule overruns, cost overruns, a lot of that can be traced back to quality, right? Are we doing a ton of rework and the ability to use technology to get it right the first time can certainly save a lot of heartache and money downstream as well. So as we look into the future, and maybe Joanne, we’ll start with you, what emerging technologies over the next few years do you think will be critical for companies to remain competitive and how will it differentiate them from the rest of the pack?

Joanne Farrell:

Look, I think having the ability to do away with paper and all the other things we have in our site offices and being fully mobile and digitized out in the field. So I don’t see the need in the future for having all of our plan racks and things hanging there when, like we said, you bring up an iPad or you have your screen and you can Zoom in, Zoom out and you can have the conversations around the issues that we have from day-to-day that can be addressed in that real-time scenario. I think anything that just shackles people from sitting behind a desk, writing out things in that manual stuff that needs to be done, if all of that can be transferred onto digital platforms, the efficiency you would get through your teams and through the onsite works is going to result automatically in positive change. You’re going to have more ability to be out on site viewing and supervising and managing the actual works.

You’re going to have people who are using app systems and feeding you information. So you know when to go and inspect a wall closing before they shade it for the services because they’re notifying you on an app to say, we’re ready. Here’s the photos. You upload the photos, you do a digital signature, you move on the wall shaded, away we go. There’s so many examples of those types of things that can happen, instead of that last time that we say from doing those manual tasks backwards and forwards and having, I guess, that segregation between the field and the office and what that means. So I think that any company that’s not really looking at all of these systems that are available and these processes that we can implement, they’re just going to be left behind because like Kim just said, clients are super impressed when you can show them something that has… They love the techie stuff, essentially, just because it’s so different in construction.

So any time you’re out there doing something on an app and say, hey, check this out. This is your concrete slab ticking away over here, getting stronger and stronger, and they’re just blown away by that sort of stuff. So it’s going to make you stand out. It’s going to make you look like you’re doing that. That you’re looking at ways to make it efficient for them. You’re looking at the quality. You’re looking at all the issues that they would historically have with other contractors on site and you’re addressing those issues and you can demonstrate addressing those issues. Yeah. I mean, what client wouldn’t want the contractor who’s embracing that sort of level in technology?

Rick Deans:

Yeah. That’s excellent. And Kim, any thoughts from you on some exciting emerging technologies coming down the pipe?

Kim Arrant:

I have many, and I’m very excited about them. So my thing is this. So what I see coming and in the next three years, oh, that’s already a huge focus, but I think it’s going to catch on more and more, is here, we’ve been focusing on the digitization of our procedures, getting that data flowing. So I do see it that way, guys. It’s like the blood pumping, it’s the data flowing. We’re capturing that. We’re getting that good blood flowing. So the next thing to me is to ring the value of the third dimension. I think it’s visualization. So I think it’s in the power of, and for the owner and the advantage of the owner, taking the investment that they make in that 3D, that model. Some folks are either doing the scanning or doing the laser scanning, they’re getting even immersive imagery at this point with some of the SLAM technology and everything. But they’re getting to the place where you can see, but now we have the data.

If you could pump the data into it and create that digital twin so it’s not just a visual, but it is alive with current data and current information that informs the status of that. So the model exists beyond design, the model exists beyond construction and as built, but then it can go on and still have purpose throughout facility management and ONM. I think that’s huge and I think that’s where you’re going to see a lot of the push in the next couple of years. And it just goes back to what I said earlier about, but you’ve got to be digital. You’ve got to have sources for that data and you’ve got to have good data and you’ve got to have current data to make all that work. So, yeah, I think that’s super exciting. The technology in the [inaudible] field right now is really amazing.

Rick Deans:

Yeah. And you both mentioned it, what client wouldn’t get excited about having a digital twin as part of the handover package, right? So instead of having to go look through hard files or search a drive to get some information, I can just click on an element in the model and find out when that piece is due for it’s next maintenance, who installed it, how long it’s been operable. I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right? So I think you’re going to see the owners driving a lot of this going forward as well. Great discussion. If you had a friend or a business associate, or perhaps somebody that’s watching this webinar that was considering embarking on a digital transformation journey, Joanne, what are some of the tips or pointers you would pass along to them based on what you’ve learned in your experience?

Joanne Farrell:

Look, just understand how positive it will be, the business, and what the change will mean. And maybe step outside your comfort zone a little bit to have the conversations with the people such as yourselves in terms of asking all the questions about how can this help my business. I think that’s the starting point, right? Is that there’s lots of people who are curious about it, but they’re reluctant to have that initial conversation. It’s just too daunting when really there’s just so much opportunity for improvement and efficiency and therefore better for the business all around. But I think that when we’re moving towards it anyway, it’s not like this isn’t going to happen. It’s just that our industry in particular is always just slower to embrace change. Across the board and related back to the participation of women in construction, it hasn’t changed in two decades.

So I worry that we just are slow to adapt and to pivot and to do the things that we need to. I think as much as COVID has been a curse, it’s almost been a blessing in disguise. We spoke earlier about working from home and different things. It just wasn’t something that would be considered [inaudible] ago. So why wouldn’t digital transformation sit in the same bucket to go? Things aren’t working well, the way that we’ve done it particularly over the past two decades. Like I said, we make the same mistakes. We have the same issues. So is this not an opportunity to change that and to fully embrace and change that and actually do things in a better way. So I can’t see how you can not be involved and not be curious about it, but I think it certainly warrants the conversations around how can you help my business and what does this journey look like for us and what do we need to do? And I think once you start having that conversation, you really start to see the benefit of it. So for me, it’s really a no brainer.

Rick Deans:

No, that’s great. Excellent, excellent points, Joanne. Kim, what would be your advice to somebody that’s maybe sitting on the fence or waiting for that perfect day to go out and begin their digital transformation journey?

Kim Arrant:

First of all, there’s no perfect day for it. But my advice would be this, to sit down with a team and blue sky. Sit down with the intent of blue skying to where you need to be, where you feel that you need to be. Break it down into manageable tasks and objectives, and then make a plan. And in that plan though, do a survey to your teams or find out what you’re going to get the most value, but break it down into bites and manageable bites and plan yourself some quick wins because gaining those quick wins, it gains you momentum and they will maintain your momentum. And it’ll get you through those hard slogging tasks that are just rough, right? So be strategic about it, but you cannot eat this elephant in one bite. Do not do it. Do not try. Do it one bite at a time and do that very strategically. That is my best advice.

And then the other thing is to always remember, it’s not just about purchasing technology. It’s not just about just buying it and putting it on an iPad and putting it out in the field. You’ve got to have that change agent through training, through process optimization. You’ve got to work it in to how they work and translate it to them that way, and then let them allow them to embrace it. So your technology spend is one thing, but then you’ve got to bring it in because it does represent a change of work and culture. Don’t underestimate that.

Rick Deans:

No, and that’s an excellent point. So go after some of the low-hanging fruit, celebrate the victory [crosstalk].

Kim Arrant:

Definitely. And promote them. Jump up and down. Don’t hide it under a bush.

Rick Deans:

No, that’s great. And I’ve learned a bunch just sitting here talking to the two of you today. I think you’re great representatives of our industry and I wish you both continued success. And I’d like to thank our audience for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed our conversation half as much as I did. Before you leave, don’t forget to download our global projects outlook report by clicking on the session in the agenda and scrolling down to the attachments section. We’ll also send you a free copy after the series is complete. This session will be available on demand. Please check our website at ineight.com/webinars to watch the on-demand recording. Ladies, thanks again for joining us.

Kim Arrant:

Thank you.

Joanne Farrell:

Thank you very much.