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From the founder – Declan Vanderhor

I want to begin this blog entry by stating that this isn’t a sales pitch for TabLogs. Instead, think of this as more of a jumping off point to use in your own consultancy to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of your current engineering practices, and whether they need updating/modernising to meet the needs of today’s digital workplaces.

Having spent more than five years working as a Geotechnical Engineer, there’s one lesson that I learned that I am sure many of us in the industry are all too aware.

Engineering is ruled by tradition – and while these safeguards and practices are critical to ensure we adhere to governing standards and practices – it’s little wonder why improvements to work processes can often be an uphill battle when trying to convince upper management.

In my discussions with software developers and other stakeholders while creating TabLogs, one thing has become apparent. Outside of engineering, many are surprised when I tell them that geotechnical testing and sampling, such as borehole logging in the field, is still dominated by paper-based recording and reporting. While to us Geotech’s this may be a common practice, the drawbacks to these methods are apparent to anyone who gives it a moment’s thought.
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As with snail mail, there is a significant time-delay between on-site work and submitting the results to a project manager. It can take anywhere up to a few hours for papers to be scanned and sent through at the end of the day, which means that if an engineer or technician on-site needs immediate feedback from their project manager, they need to wait for a while. This can take significant time and effort to respond to unforeseen site conditions or test results, which can delay the construction process and ultimately add costs to the project.

In addition, other issues with paper-based reporting include mistakes in calculations, delays in submitting paperwork, errors in data entry when transferring from paper to digital format, and occasionally lost documents. Below is a quick list I have put together outlining the challenges with paper-based recording and reporting:

• Multiple opportunities for human error throughout the process
• Delayed reporting and feedback hinders responsiveness in the field
• Several steps in the process that takes significant time or has a high probability of time delays
• Minimal decision-making documentation

As with most innovations, the switch from paper to a more digital approach (such as TabLogs) will usually be triggered when clear inefficiencies in the current processes are made apparent.

Site representatives may become frustrated when spending numerous additional hours offsite with paperwork, and savvy managers will recognise these frustrations as an opportunity to change and improve their work processes.

Immediate benefits from implementing digital engineering processes
In my experience watching various geotechnical consultancies begin using our borehole logging softeware, I have witnessed how businesses have been able to significantly decrease the amount of time it takes for Geotech’s to do their on-site investigations and submit their final reports to clients. I have also seen a significant increase in collaboration and real-time responsiveness to test results.
When on-site engineers and technicians enter data onto cloud-based devices, I have also been able to see how off-site project managers can open project files, view the results as tests are completed, and give immediate feedback that includes appropriate adjustments.
In a specific example, one project manager and the person in the field discussed the results using different colours to distinguish different borehole material findings. However, by using TabLogs to record the colour at the start of the investigation, this minimised confusion further along in the analysis stage, making the decision-making process more collaborative. For technicians on their own and in remote locations, this method can reintegrate them into the team and strengthen the overall workflow.
I think it’s important that all engineering consultancies, no matter what field you’re in, are continuously looking at ways to improve the way they conduct their business. While I would obviously be thrilled if you took the time to learn how TabLogs can help enhance your business processes, there are a myriad of other software solutions out there that could also help decrease inefficient work practices and increase collaboration for your team members. At the very least, I hope this blog entry provides you with the motivation to have a discussion with your management team about ways to improve your consultancy’s engineering processes.

Thanks for reading!