By Andrew Hanson

The latest hot topic in engineering seems to be “Digital Engineering”.  

You may be thinking digital engineering doesn’t affect me, initially this is what I thought when I started hearing terms such as COBie, Dynamo and Grasshopper being used around the office. I associated this with coding, which isn’t really my remit 

However, over the last few months I’ve become more aware of other aspects of digital engineering and the benefits it can have on projects and my own productivity. 

I first started thinking about this whilst carrying out snagging on a project. Throughout my career I had been using the same process; handwriting pages of site notes, taking hundreds of photographs, then getting back to the office and spending hours formalising my scribbled notes into a snagging schedule.  

I started to become frustrated with the inefficiency of this process and began to look at what alternatives were available to me in the context of digital engineering. 

I became familiar with tablet-based apps such as SnagR & Site Audit Pro, that allowed me to carry out snagging on site, whilst automatically scheduling / formalising the snags. This enabled me to issue the snagging schedule to the contractor before even leaving site, not only saving me time back in the office, but allowing the contractor to immediately review and action any issues raised. 

To me, digital engineering also means having the information you need when you need it. Engineering still seems to be heavily reliant on paper, with drawings and documents being printed out and thrown away without much consideration; not good for a sustainable practice such as Cundall! 

I have started to use Microsoft Office 365 to share information between my desktop and tablet using OneDrive, reducing the need to print reams of paper to take to meetings. Instead I can view and mark up drawings on my tablet, then instantly share or save to file later.  

In addition, I have used Microsoft One Note to record my meeting notes which can be instantly shared with the team, avoiding the delay between returning to the office to brief the team. 

Using Microsoft Office 365 has also allowed me to collaborate with colleagues in live documents whilst being more agile. 

You may be thinking we’ve had this technology for years, and you’d be right. But how many people can say that they have used the software available efficiently and to its full potential?  

Even something as small as having access to work emails whilst out of the office has allowed me to become more organised and spend less time deleting “cakes in the kitchen” emails and clearing emails that are not relevant to me but can be a distraction and take up space in my inbox. 

Cundall has been instrumental in promoting digital engineering within the business and encourages all staff to contribute to this rapidly accelerating revolution. 

Don’t get stuck thinking the way you’ve always done something is the best way. Try a different method of working and see where it takes you. 

To find out more about Cundall’s services, click here.

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Andrew Hanson, Building Services Engineering

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