Spotlight on Frances “Frani” Hallett – siteoffice.mobi Lead Software Engineer

Frances Hallett is the Lead Software Engineer at siteoffice.mobi, where she manages a team in the design and backend code development for the construction project management software. Her specialisation in software design and development of web, mobile and embedded applications for small and large scale distributed systems makes her an asset to the team.

Having graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Mechanical Engineering with Honours from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Diploma in Data Science, Information Technology from Monash University and with professional experience with Sandvik Coromant in Sweden as a Development Engineer (Mechatronics) and Sandvik Mining and Construction in Australia as a Control Systems Engineer, Frances has a wealth of knowledge of both mechanical engineering and mechatronics, as well as data science and software development, with a keen interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Frances is well known for her creativity, multi-disciplinary experience, and passion for data driven decision making. We recently caught up with Frances to find out a bit more about what drives her. Here’s what she had to say:

What do you do?

I manage a team in the design and backend code development for siteoffice.mobi.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut.

Most important innovation of your lifetime thus far?

Probably writing my first working machine learning algorithm with Python. It was a simple Viterbi function based on hidden Markov models, but it was pivotal for me because it was a working model that allowed me to understand the power of technology and the intelligence it can provide.

Whose brain would you most like to pick?

It would be a three way tie between Albert Einstein, Sam Harris and Randall Carlson.

What inspires you?

A.I and machine learning. I also love reading about the advancements in quantum computing and the opportunities it’s going to bring to individuals, groups and industries.

Favourite pastimes: 

Travelling and working around the world.

Quote you live by:

“Say yes, you’ll figure it out afterward” – Tina Fey

Paperless construction projects – everyone’s a winner

The construction industry generates a significant proportion of the world’s waste. With worldwide digitisation in full swing, going paperless is not only achievable for construction projects, it’s the least we can do to join the quest for a more sustainable future.

Consider this example:

A $200m project runs for two years.

This is how much paper is generated each day of the project:

  • 8 site engineers: 80 sheets
  • 4 project engineers: 20 sheets
  • 8 supervisors: 40 sheets
  • 2 safety reps: 40 sheets
  • 2 quality reps: 40 sheets
  • 1 environmental rep: 10 sheets
  • 1 project manager: 5 sheets
  • 4 administrative/accounts personnel: 100 sheets
  • resources: 100 paper dockets

Based on these estimates, this project will amass a whopping 208,800 sheets – 1 tonne of paper – by the end of its two-year lifespan.

Time to talk about digitisation? We think so.

Going paperless: who are the losers?

No one! Literally everyone benefits from paperless construction projects. Beyond the obvious environmental wins, all stakeholders stand to gain from digitisation.

Construction teams win

Useful, real-time data. Mobile and electronic forms allow you to capture data on site and instantly make it available to everyone on the project.

No more double handling. Pen and paper are time-consuming and prone to human error, and written documentation and photographs have to be typed, scanned and collated in spreadsheets or Word documents later at the office.

No more lost documents. Pieces of paper get lost, particularly when they have to travel between locations. If documents such as permits disappear, work has to stop until they’re found or replaced. Store them digitally and this risk no longer exists.

Better storage and searchability. Filing paperwork is a headache, and scanned files take up much more storage space than electronic documents. In a digitised system, data can be stored and sorted in multiple ways (e.g. by discipline, sub-discipline, status, etc.) and documents can be found in a matter of seconds. The value of this is crystal clear if we consider these stats, published by Construction Business Owner:

  • It takes an average of 18 minutes to find a paper document.
  • 70% of businesses would fail in three weeks if they had a catastrophic loss of paper due to a fire or flood.

Clients win

At the end of a project, rather than receiving a truckload of paperwork (which then requires additional resources to sift through, scan and organise it), clients can be handed a digital record that is already organised, coherent and useful.

Future projects win

Related future projects benefit from easily searchable, high-quality historical data. This saves both clients and construction companies significant amounts of time and money.

Talk to the experts

The global imperative to reduce, reuse and recycle grows each day. At siteoffice.mobi, we’ve made it our business to improve data management and real-time communication, boosting efficiency, increasing transparency and saving you money – while working responsibly to reduce our industry’s environmental footprint. Talk to us today to find out more.

See siteoffice.mobi at Future Infrastructure Summit 2018

siteoffice.mobi is proud to be a bronze sponsor of the inaugural Future Infrastructure Summit 2018; co-presented by the Lean Construction Institute Australia and buildingSmart Australasia at The Edge, State Library of Queensland in Brisbane on Monday 22 October 2018.

In addition to sponsoring and exhibiting at the event, our Lead Software Engineer Frances Hallett will present on embracing digital transformation in the construction and infrastructure sectors from 3:40pm – 4pm at the Innovation Lab.

Come and see the siteoffice.mobi team: Lead Software Engineer Frani Hallett (second from left), Business Development Manager Stacey Steinberg (far right), and Marketing Manager Hannah Frankish at Future Infrastructure Summit 2018

The Future Infrastructure Summit program is designed to bring together real life practitioners from around the industry.

This one-of-a-kind Summit brings together clients, government, head contractors, subcontractors and design partners and consultants to:

  • get inspired
  • learn from each other
  • build strong peer relationships
  • expand networks and
  • foster industry collaboration.

Come and visit the siteoffice.mobi team to get a live demo of our real-time cloud-based construction management focused CPMS solution that is saving engineers and managers valuable time, money and energy, while providing superior transparency and control of their projects.

We hope to see you there!

For more information on the 2018 Future Infrastructure Summit, view the agenda, or book tickets here.

Construction’s digital future: how can we get there faster?

Technology has already facilitated vast changes in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, but there’s still a way to go.

We posted recently on where construction tech is headed next. Research is showing us how technology is affecting our industry now and how it stands to develop in future – but how do we respond to these changes and accelerate our journey to a digital future?

McKinsey & Company addresses this question in their 2018 report, Seizing opportunity in today’s construction technology ecosystem. They include some useful action points for the coming years for AEC firms and tech providers.

How to fast track digital progress

AEC firms

  • Invest in talent and skill building by:
    • hiring people with technical expertise
    • upskilling your existing employees in new technologies and earmarking funds for capability building.
  • Engage with the startup ecosystem by:
    • investing directly or indirectly in startups
    • partnering with them for piloting or co-developing solutions.
  • Establish conditions of success for piloting and scaling by:
    • setting aside funding in order to experiment with technology
    • bringing in outside startup expertise when needed.

Tech providers

  • Listen to the end user and adapt products by:
    • working out ‘real needs’ of customers versus ‘nice-to-have’ applications.
  • Plan for the journey to integration and consolidation by:
    • finding ways to evolve towards integrated solutions that cover multiple use cases (such as on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration)
    • strategising for ‘co-opetition’ (i.e. simultaneously collaborating and competing with other startups).

Looking to the future with siteoffice.mobi

At siteoffice.mobi, we’re one of only a handful of startups whose products span on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration, which puts us ahead of the majority of other construction tech providers.

Our cloud-based, real-time construction management solution includes:

  • daily operational performance tracking
  • live cost tracking and forecasting
  • document management
  • quality control applications
  • contract management
  • safety and environment monitoring.

Our software streamlines all of these elements in one integrated, easy-to-use system, so that management teams can optimise efficiency, safety and performance on construction projects.

As builders, engineers and software developers working together, we have genuine insight into needs of the AEC sector. We’re confident of our trajectory into the future as we collaborate to solve real problems in construction.

Think we can help you? Chat to us today.

siteoffice.mobi seeks to streamline infrastructure projects in mining

We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of the ten startups to take part in the “BUILD” phase of the Unearthed Accelerator program, which kicked off with a founder alignment workshop with lead mentor and acQuire and ADAPT by Design founder Bill Withers at River City Labs followed by a launch party at Fishburners Brisbane on Tuesday 1 October 2018.

The Unearthed Accelerator is a mentor-driven program, supported by Origin Energy and Advance Queensland, that connects startups to energy and resources industry customers, mentors and advisors, while helping entrepreneurs to achieve their vision. 

Co-Founders Andrew Chalker and Joel Gabauer introduce the crowd to siteoffice.mobi at the Accelerator launch party

The program is split into two phases: “BUILD” and “SCALE” with each phase lasting 12 weeks. The “BUILD” phase of the Accelerator, running from October to December 2018, is a flexible program for startups seeking access to industry to understand the customer and co-develop solutions for impact with real customers.

The siteoffice.mobi team is looking to explore how our construction management software can best help streamline infrastructure projects for critical assets on mine sites.

Congratulations to the other 9 startups in the cohort: GOJI, miiFile, Quantum Geology, Riskloop, SeePilot, SkyGrow, SnapSupport, and Universal Field Robots. We look forward to working with you, program supporters Origin Energy and Advance Queensland and the Unearthed team.

Read the full Accelerator cohort announcement article here.

Construction tech in 2018: where to next?

“Gone are the days when the construction industry can ignore the burgeoning set of technology solutions across the asset life cycle. We expect investment, competition, and consolidation to continue to accelerate as use cases and start-ups serving the industry proliferate.”

So concludes McKinsey & Company’s 2018 report on the status quo of construction technology. The report, Seizing opportunity in today’s construction technology ecosystem, offers new analysis of the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) technology landscape now, and predicts where it needs to go in future.

The report is based on extensive research of more than 2,400 tech solutions companies across the entire asset life cycle (concept and feasibility, design and engineering, preconstruction, construction, and operations and maintenance).

Report highlights

We’ve summarised some of the report’s key findings for you here.

Investment in construction technology is growing – fast

In 2017, McKinsey & Company reported that construction technology companies had attracted $10 billion in investment between 2011 and early 2017. Their updated figures show that investments are accelerating. In fact, they’ve doubled in the past decade:

“Between 2008 and 2012, construction technology received $9 billion in cumulative investment. Between 2013 and February 2018, that number doubled to $18 billion, largely driven by mergers and acquisitions.”

The construction phase is attracting the most investment

While preconstruction and construction back-office phases of the asset life cycle are garnering large investments, the construction phase leads the ecosystem with “both the highest number of use cases and the highest number of transactions”. Virtual learning, 3D printing, design simulation, machine learning and deep learning technologies are also gaining momentum: “the number of companies founded in this space over the past five years exceeds any other category”.

Fragmentation remains a problem

Fragmented approaches to tech solutions is still a problem. Most companies are engaging solutions that address “a very specific, narrow application, rather than more integrated solutions”.

This fragmentation is one of the biggest challenges we’ve heard from companies that want to engage with technology solutions. Many are older, venerable companies using legacy systems and various information-collection methods.

“For these companies, integration may sound more like it’s yet another solution to layer in on the top of all the other processes and solutions on hand—when in fact, technology can be used to cut down on the number of solutions and methods being used.”

The report goes on to note that tech providers should find ways to evolve towards integrated solutions that cover multiple use cases (such as on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration).

Tech providers need to listen to user needs

Another pertinent point is that tech start-ups should be listening carefully to the needs of AEC firms and adapting their products accordingly – especially if start-up teams aren’t native to the AEC industry. Rather than thinking up a novel idea and searching for an application in industry, solutions should always be developed in response to real problems. Focus on “validated customer needs” because “in this fragmented landscape, it is imperative to validate the real need (versus a ‘nice-to-have’ application)”.

Where does siteoffice.mobi fit in?

As a tech company that’s created a tailored solution for the construction phase, siteoffice.mobi is part of the fastest-growing and most heavily invested area of today’s construction technology ecosystem. We are also one of a very small number of start-ups whose products address on-site execution, digital collaboration and back-office integration simultaneously.

Our cloud-based, real-time construction management solution includes:

  • daily operational performance tracking
  • live cost tracking and forecasting
  • document management
  • quality control applications
  • contract management
  • safety and environment monitoring.

Siteoffice.mobi’s software streamlines all of these elements in one comprehensive system, giving management teams the oversight they need to increase efficiency, optimise safety and improve their bottom line.

Our products have been developed by a team of builders, engineers and software developers who have genuine insight into the most pressing problems facing AEC today. We understand the importance of offering an integrated solution that’s simple, efficient and sustainable, and our experienced construction engineers have helped implement our software with Australian construction companies on major civil engineering and building projects.

Get in touch with us to find out more.

Shaping Queensland’s Infrastructure Future – siteoffice.mobi at IAQ Infrastructure Summit 2018

On Friday 14 September 2018, the siteoffice.mobi team will attend and exhibit at the 4th Annual Queensland Infrastructure Summit, hosted by The Infrastructure Association of Queensland at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Come and see the siteoffice.mobi team (Co-Founder and Construction Manager Kalil Zeitoun (far left), Software Engineer Frani Hallett (second from left), and Business Development Manager Stacey Steinberg (far right)) at IAQ Infrastructure Summit 2018

Queensland requires significant infrastructure investment to meet the demands of its growing population and expanding regional markets.

Through the core theme of building consensus, the Summit will address pertinent issues on achieving an economic vision for Queensland. For instance:

  • How should the state fund its most important projects?
  • How can a pipeline of investable projects be grown and attract the private sector?
  • What do changes in Federal priorities mean for Queensland?

This year’s future-focused Summit also features the interactive IAQ Infrastructure Innovation Challenge, which siteoffice.mobi Software Engineer Frances Hallett will compete in.

Infrastructure contractors, planners, policy makers and advisers are all invited to attend, contribute to the conversation, share big ideas and witness the possibilities that targeted, determined action can achieve in one big day at what is Queensland’s premier knowledge and networking event for infrastructure.

Come and visit the siteoffice.mobi team to get a live demo of our real-time cloud-based construction management focused CPMS solution that is saving infrastructure engineers and managers valuable time, money and energy, while providing superior transparency and control of their projects.

We hope to see you there!

For more information on the IAQ Queensland Infrastructure Summit, download the agenda.

Book tickets here.

Silos aren’t the problem, systems are: tech to better connect construction teams

In the construction industry, projects typically involve multiple teams from different disciplines carrying out complex pieces of work. Success relies on these teams integrating and communicating with each other to get the job done.

The idea of the “siloed workplace” is commonly blamed for woes including:

  • poor productivity
  • ineffective coordination
  • wasted resources
  • frustrated teams.

To an extent, siloed work practices deserve their reputation as project saboteurs, but leaders need to be realistic in diagnosing the true source of workplace inefficiencies.

Are inefficient systems contributing to poor productivity?

Silos can make sense

Silos make sense in that they’re teams of skilled specialists who work closely together on a common goal. They’re a reality for most large operations. The point is not to try and destroy silos (and thereby nullify their benefits) but to connect them better.

Systems are the problem

The real cause of silo-related difficulties is the fact that teams are poorly connected. Teams that fail to synergise with the wider project have their work devalued and compromised.

The secret to connecting teams better lies in integrating the systems they use to carry out and track their work. Excel spreadsheets are commonly used as a tool to pull information from disparate systems and communicate it across project teams. There are obvious inefficiencies in this approach, including the time it takes for teams to meet, talk through and hand over spreadsheets, which are liable to change as the project progresses.

Solving the problem

Doing away with the downsides of multiple disconnected systems involves moving to a single system that accommodates everyone’s needs.

Mobile and cloud-based technology, such as siteoffice.mobi, is helping drive improvements in productivity across the construction industry. The siteoffice.mobi software and app covers all aspects of the construction phase of a project, giving managers and engineers access to:

  • real-time cost capturing
  • cost forecasting
  • a fully integrated program
  • document management (Safety, Quality, Design etc.)
  • intuitive dashboards
  • data-driven reports.

Benefits of a single system

Key benefits of this technology include:

  • Real-time project tracking. Far better than spreadsheets and paper-based systems, real-time tracking enables managers to predict and avoid major cost blowouts before they happen, and to improve production rates.
  • Everyone already has a mobile or tablet and knows how to operate it. All teams can have up-to-date project information, including documentation like sketches and plans, in their pockets wherever they go.
  • An integrated digital system captures and analyses data in ways that have not been possible before now. Using this data to make future decisions builds unprecedented value into construction projects.

Want to increase efficiency, accuracy and sustainability on your construction projects?

Cloud-based software and mobile apps enable construction professionals to swiftly and accurately capture data in real-time on site, saving valuable time, money and effort, while drastically reducing or eliminating paper usage, and ensuring superior quality data and documentation for client handover at the end of the project.

Do these construction project problems sound familiar?

Double handling data

  • On site data capture = pen and paper + mobile phone photos
  • Data is typed and collated into an electronic format later at the office
  • Data is not real time – only becomes visible & useful hours later

Lost documentation

  • Documents are manually transported between office and site
  • Some documentation is required on site to continue operation. If lost – work stops until the document has returned

What a waste!

  • Construction projects generate a massive amount of paper (around 435 sheets per day on average)
  • Becomes a nightmare to organise and store – scanned paperwork takes up much more storage room than digital documents

Client handover

  • At the end of the project, clients literally receive a truck load of paper work
  • Clients often commit substantial resources to organise, scan & arrange documentation
  • When an adjoining or extension project comes along, investigation into what previously happened means spending money, time and effort

There is a better way!

Mobile and cloud-based technology, such as siteoffice.mobi offers an environmentally sustainable option that saves construction teams time, money and effort, while providing clients with good quality data and documentation at project handover.

Keep track to stay ahead: why cost tracking apps are giving construction companies the edge

Construction projects rely on accurate cost and quantity forecasts using up-to-date financial data. Get this part right and you can take control of your commercial position.

Each day, paper-based financial documentation such as dockets and invoices accumulate on site. What’s the best way to wrestle this information into a system in order to track costs and enable useful forecasting for a construction project?

Spreadsheet

Typically, paper documentation is collected, taken to an office, and then the data is typed into spreadsheets. There are downsides to this type of system:

  • It’s cumbersome and time-consuming.
  • Useful information only becomes available to managers hours later.
  • It’s easy for spreadsheets to become unwieldy and difficult to interpret.
  • Double-handling from site to office can lead to errors and incomplete data.

Mobile app

Spreadsheets begin to look feeble and inefficient when compared with the benefits of recording and processing financial data via a mobile app.

Our siteoffice.mobi app does the work of cost tracking and forecasting for you:

  • Daily costs and production quantities can be captured instantly on site using mobile devices.
  • Data entry takes minutes rather than hours, and doesn’t have to happen in an office.
  • Managers can see activity costs in real time, with live information being captured from the field.
  • Costs and quantity forecasts are updated automatically in real time.
  • The cost register can be filtered by date, resource type, business, docket number or keywords. The full approval history can be viewed for each cost item.
  • Forecasts can be updated daily or weekly, rather than monthly, allowing for more control and proactive management.
  • Cost tracking and forecasting happens on the same integrated platform.