Exploiting digital technologies to drive profitability

Topics: highways maintenance
 

Over the past 25 years, the construction industry has evolved significantly and today the pace of change has accelerated with a primary focus on digital transformation. Modern technology provides highways maintenance companies with data-driven insights that can be used to improve operational efficiency.

According to The Construction Index, between 2018 and 2019 turnover for the top 20 roads contractors increased by 3.5% reaching more than £90m. However, total pre-tax profit fell by £12.1m in the same group. This means that more work is being done for less money which puts highways maintenance contractors in a risky position. In order to reverse this trend, highways maintenance contractors need to improve efficiency. Highways England have set targets of achieving savings of £2.3bn through its RIS2 programme and £400bn savings by 2040 through digitalisation. To deliver savings of that scale, we need to find new ways of working which will require significant changes.

The Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES), a collaborative approach driven by Highways England, HS2, the Department of Transport, Transport for London, Network Rail, and Crossrail. This strategy outlines seven challenges to infrastructure efficiency highlighting three themes to drive growth and profitability and realise better outcomes for transport users:

  1. Exploiting digital technology
  2. Improving our understanding of costs and performance
  3. Enabling delivery

Causeway commissioned a research report in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CHIT) that looks at the current state of digitalisation in the highways industry. The report revealed that 80% of companies plan to take greater leaps to improve their business through digital transformation in the next 12 months. One quarter (25%) of respondents have a well-defined plan and are already seeing benefits.

  • 58% have better, faster flows of information and data
  • 55% have seen improvements in workforce productivity
  • 47% have realised cost efficiencies from cloud computing
  • 28% already benefit from a common data environment

Of the remaining three quarters (75%), 55% say they have ‘some’ digital capabilities already in place and 20% define themselves as ‘digital beginners’.

Skanska Case Study

Skanska’s long-term highways maintenance contracts historically ran on different systems resulting in differences in operations and reporting and managing and maintaining multiple systems was time and resource heavy. With each contract managed in a different way business decisions were being made on instinct rather than data.

Unable to compare and contrast efficiency of each contract and therefore, they were unable to maximise commercial performance or productivity. Having recognised the need to move to a single system that provided project accounting, works order management and scheduling, and a mobile workforce solution. Skanska chose to work with Causeway because of their ability to provide the technical solutions as well as the expertise to support and guide the business through this transformation.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruption, we are midway through our programme to replace all legacy systems and on track to deliver within our planned time frame. Causeway has worked hand in hand with our in-house teams to ensure that the system is built to our specifications and that it can interact seamlessly with our clients’ systems. Even at this midway point we have already seen demonstrable improvements in efficiency and productivity. Our operatives are using Causeway’s mobile solutions on-site everyday and reporting on progress in real-time, which enables us to have a clear view of any issues with budgets or timelines. Ultimately, by undergoing this digital transformation with Causeway, we’re able to offer our clients better service and become more attractive to potential new customers.”
Alex Winchester, Strategic Improvement Director Infrastructure Services, Skanska UK. 

How Causeway can help highways maintenance contractors improve operational efficiency

Causeway’s infrastructure maintenance solution enables back office staff to perform key functions of job management, workforce management, vehicle tracking, and route planning.

Job allocation and scheduling

Causeway’s IMM automatically imports jobs and associated requirements (e.g. workforce skills and restrictions). Using IMM, back office staff are able to allocate and schedule jobs in a single dashboard with total visibility into all upcoming and in-progress jobs.

Job management

Causeway’s IMM enables back office staff to perform key functions of job management, workforce management, vehicle tracking, and route planning.

A mobile app used by workforces automatically sends real-time progress and activity status information to the same dashboard that is used for scheduling and notifies workforce managers if there is a risk of project overrun and any permit updates that are required. This real-time synchronisation from the mobile app to the back office system allows schedulers to adapt quickly to any changes and divert or deploy additional workforces if required.

Risk assessment

Workforces can take and mark up photos in the mobile app onsite which are automatically sent to the back office system. By combining this information with interactive mapping including satellite, terrain and street views from Google Maps users of Causeway’s IMM can carry out risk assessments without the need to be on-site.

Digital technology is at the heart of driving change by providing a granular understanding of contract performance. This provides highways maintenance contractors with the clarity and vision required to drive down costs and increase profitability which are essential to maintaining and scaling construction businesses. Furthermore, this digital transformation enables companies to not only offer excellent services but to continually improve maximising customer satisfaction and retention.

Click here to watch the on demand webinar in association with Skanska.

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