Excellence and Efficiencies
A THOUGHT PIECE BY SCHALK NEETHLING
Quality assurance is essential to STRUXIT’s success. Part of this is being able to work efficiently and at speed. In this blog, Schalk Neethling shares his experience as the company’s Technical and Quality Expert.
As a structural engineer leading projects from inception to close-out, and managing the scope, cost, time and resources of numerous projects, I have a relentless drive for perfection. Working in an environment where technology progresses rapidly, and across scales globally, keeps me motivated – I enjoy the challenge of new horizons and the opportunities that exploring the unknown brings. I believe that, in life, you will never stop learning.
We do a lot of private sector work – things happen quickly and there is a lot of risk in the beginning of a project, so it’s important to optimise resources. Pushing the limits of available technologies and optimising efficient workflows is central to our goal of driving excellence and efficiencies. This approach goes hand-in-hand with employing and training up self-motivated, dynamic, responsible people. By providing our team with the most effective tools they need, we have created a supportive environment where people feel engaged, motivated, and empowered to meet their goals.
Automating processes to increase efficiency
By keeping abreast of technology, we are also able to keep abreast of our competitors and keep our clients happy. We invest a lot of time and effort into understanding how software helps us to be more efficient, and we develop automations inhouse to streamline processes. These include plugins to assist with decision making; and noting and tagging issues on site to aid us in keeping track of all issues.
To significantly reduce the time between design and documentation, we seamlessly export structural analyses and designs to Revit, our drafting tool of choice. We work in a 3D space, which is still relatively new to the industry. We tailor the software to use its capabilities for our own purposes, but also to assist smaller contractors who might not have access to these technologies.
The process works so much more efficiently if the whole professional team is on a central information platform. If the design models created by different consultants are accessible to the team, then everyone has access to the latest information at all times – so there are fewer delays.
These automations cut down our time on doing things manually, which works out to be more cost effective for our clients. A prime example is our work on SALTA, a large-scale infrastructure, residential and commercial development, which currently runs entirely on BIM360. We find that both the quality control on site and the admin are so much more seamless. There is no disconnect in the process; and all documentation is stored so that, if there are questions, there is no time lost in going back to figure out what was done.
The biggest challenge is that technology is constantly evolving – it takes time to get used to new ways of doing things and it can be difficult to pinpoint your progress. It also takes time to standardise processes and get people onto the same page. So, we try to evaluate the success of our decisions quickly so that we know whether we are meeting our goals or if we should redirect our energies.
Supporting our team
In the private sector, we are constantly faced with tight budgets and timelines, so we have to think innovatively and creatively. Our senior engineers have vast experience and transferring this knowledge is part of our ethos and approach to problem solving. We have a design hub and provide internal training to our team members. We want to work with people who are excited to join us, and keeping them up to speed is part of keeping them happy.
Efficiency is much more than working with technology and innovation – it extends to each person and the role that best fits them. Part of our drive towards efficiency and excellence is to evaluate each person’s capabilities individually – to understand how to fit people and roles rather than impose roles onto people. When people are assigned roles that that fit their personality and skills set, and that make the best use of their time, we see better results.
We treat everyone equally and try to make each person feel valued. We also have an open approach that makes it easy for people to ask questions. This helps to overcome their fear and doubt – especially when working with new technology or knowledge – and makes them feel comfortable and supported.
When people understand that these processes simplify their lives, they really appreciate it. It’s great to see the team feeling motivated and interested. This contributes enormously to the success of our projects.
If you would like to find out more about how we can increase efficiency on your project, please reach out to us here.