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Digitising the Physical: a collaborative approach to connect, enable and improve our industry


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As digital innovation continues to change the face of infrastructure, successful collaboration is the key to delivering effective solutions in an increasingly digitised society. Together with Balfour Beatty, we explored the challenges and opportunities these changes bring to the sector, at the Future of Infrastructure event.

The event brought together over 300 policy leaders and senior decision makers across transport, construction, energy, investment and government organisations to discuss and debate the future of the sector in Britain. Watch the full presentation below.

Driving innovation for a smooth digital experience

Andrew Dodsworth, Programme Director, Balfour Beatty

At Balfour Beatty, we are continually looking for innovative ways to collaborate with our partners and clients. By bringing together our team’s skills and expertise, we are able to help our clients achieve the results that they want in an ever-increasing digitised society.

Our industry is innovating and becoming progressively digitised, but in a world of contactless payment, augmented reality and folding smart phones, our clients expect and deserve a paradigm shift. We recognise the need to provide the best service which is why, together with SCAPE, we are developing our shared vision for SCAPE’s Civil Engineering frameworks.

Our approach is to innovate with purpose and align our delivery approach with the priorities of our clients, while adopting industry leading technologies and approaches to digitisation. We are confident this will help us to solve the construction and productivity problems of today and lay the foundation for our digital future through the combined benefits of collaboration, data, automation and technology.

To increase productivity and place our clients at the centre of what we do, it is essential to have one place for everything project-specific, where collaboration between the team and site workers is made simple and digital processes are easily accessed. By utilising automated site to office data flow tools, such as cloud technology with interactive reporting and predictive analytics, we will enhance accuracy and speed.

It is important that this advanced digital technology, which has traditionally only been available for major infrastructure projects, should be made available to every project being procured for any client via the Civil Engineering framework.

Five core principles of our partnership

Chris Clarke, Head of ICT and Transformation, SCAPE

Our partnership will focus on five core principles: co-production, communicating the value of data, capturing high-quality data, sharing data, and automation.

A commitment to co-production means recognising that a seamless and efficient digital project experience can only be achieved when all parties collaborate and take responsibility for their contributions.

For this to be effective, each party must communicate the value of the data they need and use during the project to each other. This means understanding not only the value of data and information within my own organisation, but also its value in creating efficiency in the project process for the client, the contractor, the decision makers, the supply chain and many other interested parties. Within the BIM universe, a great example of this effective use is of the capture of Employers Information Requirements to ensure the digital assets created during a project are meaningful and useful in the management of a bridge or a road after its construction.

Great digital processes work best when the party best placed to collect data does so for all users, which means being mutually responsible to each other and to our clients. With our clients, supply chain partners and regulators, we recognise that the value of data is also critical for transparency. We must collate and produce high-quality data where and when it is easiest and in a useful format; ignoring the organisational boundaries that have historically been a barrier to productivity and innovation.

By sharing data quickly, safely and in raw electronic form, this allows efficiencies to increase exponentially; we call this democratisation of data and we must have systems that allow data to be absorbed by all the stakeholders of the project at the same time. It is not just robotics and Artificial Intelligence that enhances efficiency for clients, it is by making data processing rules simple so that you can automate them, ensuring Building Information Modelling (BIM) data is available as quickly and easily as possible.

How can we guarantee better transparency for the future of infrastructure? Through our collaborative partnership, we will raise the bar in achieving increasing productivity and insight across all our projects nation-wide for our clients.

If you would like to explore the use of these principles and technology on your project, then please get in touch here.