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Digitising processes could solve skills shortage


Via EngineeringNews

New Zealand-based engineering consultancy firm BVT Engineering Professional Services (BVT) and global technology consultancy firm Mint Management Technologies (Mint Group), have partnered to address the current shortage of engineers in New Zealand.


BVT MD Matt Bishop states that New Zealand’s construction industry desperately needs tradespeople, engineers and builders to address industry demand. News website Stuff.co.nz has reiterated Bishop’s concerns this month, saying that the construction industry will require between 50 000 and 60 000 qualified tradespeople to satisfy expected industry growth and demand for the next five years. According to the website, local training institutes for tradespeople received only 11 500 applicants last year.


BVT states that it continually aims to gain a competitive advantage using technologies, such as cloud-based workstations, and regular efforts to digitise and streamline the engineering process. The company has subsequently developed a plan to overcome the country’s skills shortage by investigating the possibility of digitising repetitive engineering processes. Bishop says, by digitising engineering processes, the company aims to address the shortage of engineers by “spreading out” existing skills and drastically increasing the speed and flexibility of engineering designs.


“Engineering at its core is a very rational formula process and is based on physics, which is perfect for digitisation.” He says BVT identified that the intimacy of the engineering process resulted in engineers solving repetitive formulas by hand, which was time-consuming.


He states that the industry could be transformed and streamlined by adopting a culture of modular engineering and developing engineering modules that can be reused and built from engineering codes.


“Through the digitisation of established engineering, BVT has the opportunity to address the engineering skills shortage in New Zealand and place existing human resources at more specialised problems.”


BVT further needed to address its disparate information systems with calculations, reports and drawings completed in separate documents. Bishop states that the manual completion of engineering tasks, accompanied by the disparity of project information, often led to longer lead times, a lack of project visibility and a continual struggle to find information.


The company was aware of there being room for improvement in-house and the industry holistically, and subsequently approached Mint Group last year with its requirements for automation, increased visibility and streamlined access to information. BVT wanted to allow for the digitisation of engineering processes and effect scalability in the company to cater for its and industry’s rapid expansion, says Bishop.


Mint Group smarter systems executive Marius Burger states that the company began consulting with BVT using its first engagement consultation package, ProActive, which entails Mint’s teams physically taking a client or prospect through the journey of implementing a specific technology solution, identifying possible pitfalls and compiling a recommendation for the client or prospective client that will ensure a successful technology implementation that will foster user adoption and success. The ProActive consultation enabled Mint Group to determine the best method through which BVT could digitise certain traditional engineeringprocesses and manage information to ensure ease of access and visibility.


Burger states, since consultations between the two companies, Mint Group has developed a Web portal for BVT, which automated the quoting process and streamlined information disparity issues. The Web portal now enables engineers to log onto the system and have standard reports automatically completed.


He says Mint Group has since also provided BVT with dashboards and automated reporting using MicrosoftPowerBI software, which enhances organisational visibility over team tasks, work allocation and billing.


Burger emphasises, since the development of a Web portalthat digitised BVT’s processes, there have been more efficient workflows, a streamlined end-to-end job delivery process, increased operational visibility, improved deadline efficiency, improved engineer time allocation and reduced lagging projects. He states, while the project has resulted in benefits, both companies look forward to the completion of the project. He predicts that, once the full project comes to a close, BVT engineers will have more time for high-level work, as repetitive reporting will be automated.


“We are jointly looking to unleash an innovation that will fully automate workflow for specific job types and digitise engineering processes for them. This essentially removes the need for an engineer to manually complete repetitive tasks. We will transform the construction process from a paper-driven to a data-driven process,” notes Burger.


Meanwhile, Mint Group has identified that South Africa is currently facing a similar escalating engineering crisis. Burger notes that the innovation brought forth by BVT will be of great benefit for the South African market as well and Mint hopes to, in future, help digitise the local engineer ingindustry.


“Digital transformation is rampant across industries in South Africa and the use of data to innovate is evident in technology projects, such as the digital disruption of census data across Africa, achieved by research and consulting firm Fernridge Consulting.”


Mint helped Fernridge Consulting address the formalisation of the African retail sector – a key trend underlying the sector’s expansion in the coming decade – and enabled the African commercial industry to build and expand based on accurate data. The group achieved this goal by building an application called Africa Eye that gathers critical data and enables users to look at the business potential across Africa.


“This is only one of many examples showcasing how technology can help industries across Africa innovate and disrupt,” Burger concludes. 


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