Week 7 – Hansen & Yuncken – Constructing a Digital Future: MICHAEL PARKES

‘If the old don’t go, the new don’t come’ an old saying from Confucius or someone in China. This is exactly what this post is about. Technology has accompanied us through the ages in order for us to build stronger and build higher. Technology has changed the way materials are manufactured and what their capabilities are. Without technology, nearly all of the high rise buildings and many other spectacular designs we see today are just not possible to construct. So what are we still not happy about? 

Putting things into perspective, technology in building materials has progressed extensively over the past couple decades, building methods have also developed albeit not at the same pace. The only thing at a standstill, is the management side of the construction process. Even though, we have started to design and build in 3D, construction managers still manage the project using outdated methods such as excel spreadsheets and 2D drawings.

The way I see it, there’s really nothing wrong with using spreadsheets. They’re efficient at absorbing massive amounts of data and has minimal storage requirements. However, I also understand that this is no longer enough. Our managing methods needs to match the level of current construction technology in order to push the boundaries further. Companies who manage hundreds of projects are starting to feel the limitations of tradition management techniques on modern projects. It’s a bit like having the latest gadget but no idea how to use it.

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Taken on board something Borce Demiski pointed out in our very first presentation, a mountain of data no matter how accurate or reliable is useless if we cannot convert that data into formats we can analyse such as graphs, imagery, heat maps just to name a few.

Hanson & Yuncken is one of the few construction companies in the world to realise the potential of changing the workflow for construction management, ushering it into a new era. HY recognised that traditional management methods were starting to become redundant when using them to manage the latest technologies. HY developed an online system called HY-Way which integrates all facets of a project from design to handover.

Problems arising on site can be immediately documented and uploaded into the system and quickly resolved. By integrating all the data from the spreadsheets, HY was able to make the data mean something. For example, by giving meanings to data, HY has unlocked the key to managing projects as any items which require attention to can be colour-coded which directs managers exactly to the area needing attention. In an industry where time is money, this puts HY’s manpower exactly where it is needed with no wastage.

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HY now has the task of converting 800 or so employees onto the system. A management nightmare if you ask me. Simply because people are scared of change and what it means for them. The majority of the employers had used traditional methods to take HY to the place where it is today, and adopting new digital management methods frankly might make some positions redundant. Although there is potential for redundancy, this transition is a necessary one as digitalised management will surely give an edge to HY when bidding on projects. As an old dog, you’ll just have to learn a new trick or two or risk being left behind. After all, the well-being of the company is always more important than the well-being of the few.

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