We have found ourselves in a unique moment of time. On the one hand, we’ve never had so much data available to us. Technology has taken us to new heights in our personal and professional lives, empowering us with a world of convenience and connection. On the other hand, we face pressing health and geopolitical challenges on a global scale.
Trade sanctions, inflation and an interest rate looking likely to increase in Australia has businesses tightening their purse strings and making the most of what’s already available to them. Whether that translates to maximising current resources and digital platforms or cutting down what isn’t absolutely required in a post-COVID world, such as unused office space, stark choices lie ahead.

Organisations are increasingly placing an emphasis on data-led decisions when asking business questions addressing skills shortages, supply chain disruptions, rising project costs and operational risk. Luckily, technology and the skilled professionals who know how to bring it to life in a practical way, hold many of the answers.  

Beca’s people listen to and collaborate with clients every day on major engineering projects in Australia and New Zealand. The challenges our clients face aren’t isolated, and many are felt by Beca as a business too. Here’s how we solve some of them with data, insights and Industry 4.0 technology.

“We have a skills gap and backlog of work to fill.”

Resourcing is an issue faced by technical teams across industries in Australia, following the extended border closures. According to EY research, Australian migration typically adds 250,000 people to our population annually. Instead, we saw a net outflow of 95,000 people in 2021, with engineering and digital roles severely affected. While Australian unemployment is at an historic low at the time of writing, there is a demand for specialist services and skills which is currently unmet.

In the immediate term, this means helping your people and platforms work smarter to fill the gap through efficiency and productivity. Digital Twins have an important role to play in this space – providing a high-fidelity representation of the real-world that looks like, behaves like and is connected to the real world, to improve understanding for decision making. Incorporating data in a Digital Twin not only provides federated access to current information to a variety of stakeholder groups, but it also has the potential to support scenario planning and “what if” analysis. 

This responds to the resourcing business challenge in a two-fold way. Firstly, by providing easy access to the data needed to enable upskilling of the workforce you already have and secondly, by keeping projects moving with team-wide access to crucial data and insights when someone might be on leave or if they move on.

“When there is one source of truth and everything is online in FACILITYtwin, the entire team is empowered to perform their roles with intuitive access to easily understood data,” says Andrea Hughes, Business Director – Industrial Digital.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is becoming more widely used in building and infrastructure projects to better design and plan. BIM allows the project team to all see a digital representation of a development or building in detail. Read more in our article dedicated to how you can apply BIM and Digital Twins best practice in your business.

“How do we adapt to a hybrid office/home model, when sometimes we need to be on-site?”

The previously mentioned EY research confirms that many of the skills shortages experienced in 2021 were for occupations requiring a physical presence, which is where Beca has been reliably supporting its clients to benefit from the use of Reality Capture and Virtual Reality.

Not being able to travel or be on-site for projects is less of an issue with Reality Capture. Having scanned images of projects on a shared platform (such as a FACILITYtwin) means the team are equipped from their desks. By incorporating analytics and dashboards, problems can be identified with notifications and alerts, which prevents larger issues arising down the track.

ImmerSAFEme is a preventative safety platform that takes staff training into a new realm – almost literally – with virtual reality (VR). With just a VR headset, the trainee is immersed into a bespoke experience of safety hazards to be aware of on a worksite. Project teams can then be exposed to safety risks from a safe environment. The outcome is employees and contractors that are ready for site without stepping foot into a dangerous environment, heavily reducing your business' health and safety risks.

Which leads us nicely into another core challenge we have heard lately…

“Our risk exposure is fragmented across the organisation”

Global macro-economic issues continue to severely impact businesses exposure to risk. We are still dealing with the supply chain disruption from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and delays and material shortages increasing costs across the board. This does not look likely to ease any time soon with the latest geo-political fallout from Eastern Europe and developments in the Asia Pacific region.

All these factors affect capital projects. CAPEXinsights is a capital project and portfolio management application that builds risk management into your plans from the outset. Risk classifications, red flag questions, risk registers and at-a-glance reports are present throughout every stage of a project and portfolio, allowing critical decisions to be made with confidence. 

Mike Duell, Founder of CAPEXinsights says, “When you have a transparent view of your entire capital portfolio and individual projects in real-time, it helps teams to control the outcomes of their projects and quickly understand the strategic relevance from every angle – economic, strategic, environmental, safety and human impact.”

While this point in history has presented its fair share of challenges, it is also introducing opportunities by propelling our industry into the future. As we unpick how to build smart cities, we are designing digitally so that our projects are integrated and high performing in the long-term!

To learn more about how our digital solutions can support your projects, click here.