The blog has been produced in partnership with Construction News and New Civil Engineer.
Many challenges in construction and engineering involve dealing with complex information in the field or on site. Away from the clean confines of an office, it can be difficult to ensure the right things are done in the right place at the right time.
David Pinches, chief product officer at software specialist Causeway Technologies, cites the example of concrete delivery.
Pinches says: “How do I call it off against a master purchase order? Is it the right specification? How can we record the receipt digitally and flow it directly into the relevant finance system? The answers, typically, are on bits of paper tucked into pockets. That makes it notoriously prone to error.”
A digital way to work
Causeway acquired the technology this year. Developed by a French start-up, Causeway Ermeo had proved itself with demanding customers like French railways operator SNCF and energy firm Total. It is a fully multi-lingual solution used across the global construction and energy sectors.
Conceived with onsite and field-based use in mind, it is designed to “improve data collection and make construction operators more productive”, Pinches says.
It also caters for the back-office staff who need to define forms, workflows and business rules, and the technical teams responsible for linking frontline data into back-end systems. It “is a no-code solution” to create digital workflows, Pinches says, adding: “It doesn’t require programming skills to configure it.”
Creating powerful operational workflows
Instead, a cloud-based “editing studio” interface helps users to design interactive and fully customisable mobile forms. “You drag and drop elements onto the form, creating the workflow in a diagrammatic way,” he explains.
The resulting mobile forms are intuitive to use out in the field, setting out what data needs to be captured, the order of tasks and any supporting information. The forms can help enforce business rules – ensuring data is uploaded to prove one task is complete before the next is visible, for example.
They also process logical and numerical information, pre-populate fields with accurate data, perform calculations, work with images and drawings, and do all of this in offline mode, if required.
Growing use cases with endless integrations
Pinches says typical use-cases include job management, planned maintenance, work orders, site surveys and defect tracking. “You need a mobile device to describe the job, give you the right data, record what you’re doing, and let you report when it’s done,” he says.
“The important part is creating real-time information flows with the data captured in the field or on site,” he adds. “Where firms have digitised their back office, now they can address those breaks where you still see grubby bits of paper manual processes.”
Back-end systems that feed data can vary. The Causeway Ermeo solution might talk to a database, financial package, or customer relationship management system, Pinches explains. Importantly, the back-end is not limited to Causeway platforms – Pinches explains it can slot in wherever an otherwise digital process “runs into a bit of paper, a re-key, a spreadsheet or email”.
UK early adopters, like Hanson Contracting, have already found new use-cases, applying Causeway Ermeo to gather laying records, timesheets, risk assessments, plant inspections, holiday requests, and other manual processes.
As Pinches summarises: “It digitally transforms any of the operational process you need to tackle out in the field or on site.”
Want to learn more about how this software helps construction companies like yours succeed?