Transform your engineering firm with these 5 emerging technologies

There’s a skills crisis looming that is not a product of poor training, but rather a symptom of the relentless march of technological innovation. 

Half of the business leaders who responded to the 2019 PWC Fourth Industrial Revolution survey expressed a concern about future job losses – with 55 percent of respondents saying that the biggest impact of this skills shortage on business is the “inability to innovate effectively.”

The impact of technological advancement is shortening the shelf-life of existing employee skills. While this reality can be disturbing, the emerging technologies driving these skills shortage are exciting and demand that engineering firms adopt a new mindset to embrace these changes.

These technologies also have the power to transform the current workplace into the digital offices of tomorrow that encourage levels of collaboration that we have never experienced before. This approach can also unlock new workstyles that can solve the biggest problems we face today.

These five emerging technologies are particularly beneficial in the engineering space:

  • Digital twins

Virtual models can be used to adapt or construct buildings and even whole urban infrastructures and cities to arrive at unique solutions. Digital twins are an important tool to reshape our urban spaces to drive down carbon emissions, while boosting economic efficiency.

Ernst and Young also reported digital twins can reduce carbon emissions in urban areas by between 50 to 100 percent, reduce operating costs for building asset owners by 35 percent and boost productivity by 20 percent.

Six steps to create a digital twin:

  • Equip your project/asset with IoT sensors to measure inputs and outputs
  • Connect the IoT sensors to a digital platform
  • Organise the collected data and prepare data sets for analysis 
  • Visualise the data with iterative models
  • Transfer to a 3D model or overview dashboard to inform decision making
  • Implement this data-guided decision in the physical world
  • Edge computing

Processing data close to the source and only sending the results to the cloud cuts down on storage costs and speeds up processes. Centralised cloud computing has yielded amazing products, including unlimited data storage and connected apps, but the security risks and a reliance on data connectivity has limited its use in high-security environments.

Edge computing provides shorter response times, lower bandwidth costs, and more robust data safety and privacy protection than cloud computing. 

What is edge computing? It moves compute power to the edge of where your local network meets the internet. This infrastructure is more robust and reliable and keeps data costs low by only utilising the connection when offloading the processed data to external storage.

Networking speed is also improved through local and peer-to-peer communication, which is a central component of the Internet of Things. In the future all the machine-to-machine communication that underpins autonomous driving will demonstrate the full potential of edge computing.   

 

  • Blockchain 

Cryptographic distributed ledgers create a digital log with a permanent record and can track assets. With blockchain contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision. 

With an internal blockchain every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. Individuals, organisations, machines, and algorithms can freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.

Three important advantages of an internal blockchain: 

  • Confidentiality can be incorporated in a private blockchain by encrypting the data on a chain.
  • Multichain tokenisation allows you to anchor the value of a transaction and you can link multiple chains 
  • Private blockchain can provide authenticated and notarised messaging services. 


  • Artificial Intelligence

AI can process large data sets in a short time and, through machine learning techniques, automate certain processes. The complementary nature of on-device machine learning and edge computing means that future IoT systems can operate semi-autonomously within defined parameters, freeing up human capital and compute power for other tasks. 

Applying AI to design can also speed up that phase of the work without resorting to copying and pasting templates. AI can dynamically place standard objects/features and suggest alterations in response to data from a digital twin.

 

  • Augmented Reality

The ability to overlay additional data or information on top of the real world will help visualise data in new and innovative ways. Technically digital twins can be described as augmented reality because the models you can design are tied to a real-world object. 

The metaverse may be the hot topic now but, outside of communications and entertainment applications, the concept of VR in the engineering workspace is not ideal. AR on the other hand combines all the strengths of VR, but doesn’t require you to depart from the meat space.

Ensure your firm is equipped to support innovation projects

While your firm is enhancing its solutions and gearing towards future-focused engineering solutions, it needs in-house software, including for project management, that supports this kind of innovation and forward thinking.

This workbook contains questions and prompts to help you brainstorm how you can use emerging tech to transform your processes. 

Download our innovation prompter by filling out the form below: 

 

 

All projects have their challenges and that will never change, but the sense of dread and déjà vu when a carefully executed plan goes off the rails can (and should) be avoided. If you find your team facing the same hurdles repeatedly, it might be because you have inefficiencies baked into your engineering workflow and that there’s a problem that needs to be solved.

Fortunately, with the right tools, people and processes in place, you can overcome these problems.

Here’s a look at six common project management challenges that tend to crop up in engineering firms and how you can tackle them:

  1. Complex collaboration

The engineering phase is a living, interdependent ecosystem of contractors and consultants who all need to prepare a path to success across multiple disciplines. One late drawing or overlooked amendment can cause major delays and have unexpected consequences.

Solution: Gain visibility into these dependencies early and communicate them to all stakeholders by deploying a single system that shares regular progress reports with all parties.

 

  1. Non-standard documents

Contractors all have their own unique processes and cultures, often operating on incompatible systems. Shared administrative culture can resolve many problems, and simply creating document templates can reduce the need for rework. They can be re-used across multiple projects and will improve the consistency of reporting.

Solution: Establish a database of document templates and distribute them to all contractors or firms working on the project.

 

  1. Poor auditing

Does your firm perform a thorough delay analysis every time a project is bottlenecked? If not, this might be part of the problem. A comprehensive document history and audit trail creates a culture of accountability and transparency. These audit trails can also be reviewed to streamline the project management process in future.

Solution: Establish a consistent paper trail for every decision and progress update. Project management software allows you to capture these paper trails digitally with a detailed timeline that cannot be tampered with.

 

  1. Missed cost savings opportunities

Open communication allows for the exchange of ideas that could unlock potential cost-saving opportunities. If everyone has the same overview of the project, then they can use their experience to suggest alternative methods or materials to complete a task more efficiently. A key component of this communication is having a team that is working from the same, correct information in real time.

Solution: A central, digital project plan (with the relevant details for each stakeholder) gives everyone an up-to-date view of the latest project details and progress, making it easier to spot cost saving opportunities.

 

  1. Poor relationship management

Establishing a clear communication strategy for each stage of the project is crucial to creating an efficient working relationship with project collaborators and, importantly, with your clients. That communications strategy is in place to serve relevant information to the intended recipient when they need it.

Solution: Give your client an overview of the project status and regular updates on any possible opportunities. A system that allows you to create a custom dashboard can speed up client approvals by giving them a space to submit job requests and view the project status.

 

  1. Unproductive conflict

The occasional dose of workplace tension often proves that those involved are passionate about doing the best job possible. Having a central open communications channel where stakeholders and collaborators can share ideas and voice their grievances enables you to channel that passion into a constructive debate or discourse, having a positive effect on the project.

Solution: Establish a project-specific communications channel alongside the project management process that is hierarchy free and allows the exchange of ideas.

 

The above challenges are nearly universal across engineering projects and can even manifest within well-functioning teams. A digital project management platform like Deltek Vantagepoint is a valuable resource to help keep the project management train on the rails.

Download this free guide to see all the ways that Deltek Vantagepoint can unlock productivity in your workflow.

The engineer of the future will be someone who has global knowledge; a passion for pursuing sustainability in innovation; a pioneering mindset when it comes to technology and the ability to work remotely.

They will be someone who can revolutionise cities to make them more environmentally and population friendly; someone who is able to improve the way we travel, who has the expertise to solve biomedical and chemical-related health concerns or is able to work cohesively with new software in order to further innovate.

As the world increasingly pursues technological innovation, the engineering industry will play an exciting role in solving the problems of today and bringing the future to life. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen how businesses have needed to pivot, innovate and redefine themselves in order to keep up. And as we move out of 2021, we have seen a surge in adoption of new technologies across industries.

As an engineering firm, how do you feel about digital transformation? Are your people ready to embrace innovation? Before you feel too overwhelmed, here are three simple areas you can focus on when it comes to adopting new technologies into your firm:

1. Keep your eyes on the client

Look out for systems and digital tools that help you optimise the entire customer journey and enable your team to provide the best customer support.

2. Change up your management system

Get rid of your old processes of using siloed systems to manage your operations and invest in an integrated digital tool.

3. Embrace a variety of technologies

The most successful companies will have a full suite of technology in their back-pocket – from digital management systems, to robotics, to cutting-edge analytics.

Want to know about what to expect for engineering in the future?

Download our insightful infographic, A Glimpse into Success for Engineering Firms in 2022 and Beyond, to ensure your firm is staying ahead of the game.

 

 

Each year, Deltek conducts a survey of firms in the architecture and engineering industry to identify the key performance indicators, market conditions, and industry trends. Conducted for the last 42 years, the Study is developed in collaboration with industry organisations across the globe.

We have created an insightful infographic that gives an overview of the annual architecture and engineering industry study, highlighting important trends in EMEA and APAC.

The key takeaway from the study is around the business impact of the pandemic on architecture and engineering firms, and research suggests that “a solid digital foundation [will] enable organisations to adapt more quickly to changing business conditions”. This infographic also highlights important questions and strategies that engineering firms need to consider throughout their digital transformation journey.

For example, there are five questions industry leaders should ask themselves to identify where they need to lay the groundwork for their transformation;

  1. What was the impact of the pandemic on our operations and revenue?
  2. What are some of the technologies that we need to help us differentiate?
  3. How were our projects impacted by the pandemic?
  4. What are our biggest concerns with developing new business, and how can technology help?
  5. How are our finance leaders measuring success and enabling our businesses to move forward?

Get your copy below;

 

 

Each year, Deltek conducts a survey of firms in the architecture and engineering industry to identify the key performance indicators, market conditions, and industry trends. Conducted for the last 41 years, the Study is developed in collaboration with industry organisations in the United States and Canada.

The Study collected responses on emerging technology trends, financial statements, business development, project management, and human capital management. The survey was developed in partnership with CMG Consulting and was fielded from January 21, 202 through March 23, 2020. Responses were collected from more than 415 companies in the architecture and engineering industry.

Get your copy by completing the form below:

 

 

Global research conducted by IDC, found that 21.3% of productivity loss in the workplace can be attributed to document management issues. Whether it’s employees being unable to find the right document, or being unable to access the document, according to Interact Source, almost 20% of business time, as much as one day per working week, is spent by employees trying to locate information in order to successfully complete their work.

In engineering firms alone, as much as 70% of the firm’s project information will not even be located within their document management systems, and might be found in desktop files or email servers. The result of this is scattered bits of information and unproductive workflows.

Migrating to a digital document management system is the wisest move, especially in an age when it’s best to go paperless, but the biggest driving factor would be the ability to access them anywhere (imagine you’re working remotely and realise the documents you need are locked away
in a filing cabinet at the office).

Get your free e-guide providing you with a step-by-step process of how to go about searching and implementing a document and email management system for your firm.

 

 

A Quick Guide for Keeping Your Firm Healthy in 2021

2020 was a big learning curve for businesses all around the world. Many engineering firms had to learn to adjust to remote working, while still maintaining a positive and motivational workplace culture, and implementing systems and processes to navigate the “new normal” way of working.

All of this change can have an impact on a firm’s organisational health, and so we decided to create a practical guide for your firm that can be a resource to;

  • Highlight the four key learnings that indicate a healthy engineering firm
  • Provide guidelines for maintaining optimal organisational health in the four areas
  • Share practical tools you can implement to improve your processes today
  • Help to equip your firm for any future unexpected challenges

Download the full guide by completing the form below.

Want to ensure your engineering firm is staying successful in a competitive SA market?

Silversoft is offering Engineering Consulting firms a free health check to determine how they compare to others in the industry in terms of the 4 key learnings from 2020.

This involves your completing a simple 10-minute survey, followed by a call with one of our experienced Account Managers. You will be provided with a concise report highlighting your firm’s strengths and areas of improvement in our new working environment as well as a mini-guide on how to implement improvements in the 4 key areas.

Take the health check survey

“86% of organizations see failure to digitize and automate business inputs as a key transformation bottleneck.” 

There is no denying that 2020 has been a year for the books. Within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry, project managers, engineers, surveyors and more have shifted their processes to accompany a more diverse, remote way of working. Creating and processing information may have been a struggle prior to 2020, and now with a workforce that can be partially or even fully remote, inefficiencies with project information management can certainly come to the forefront.

In this whitepaper, you’ll discover solutions to some of the AEC industry’s most common challenges with managing project information, particularly when managing information remotely.

How to tackle project information management:

    • Identify process holes within your organisation
    • Review your data management approach
    • Take stock of on-site practices
    • Have the hard conversations

76% of companies experience significant business risks and/or compliance incidents due to broken document management processes. 

Silversoft conducted a survey to engineering and consulting industry players with the aim of bringing you key trends and insights from the South African industry.

Get your free copy of the survey results to benchmark your firm against others in the industry when it comes to your document and email management processes.

Some key trends the survey highlights:

    • 62% of respondents said that their firm stores emails and files in the cloud
    • 36% of respondents said that they spend 1-2 hours per week searching for important project information
    • 94% of respondents said that their firm stored project information in a central location

Finance has the important task of supporting the organisation in delivering profitable projects to clients.

Architecture, Engineering and Consulting companies are undergoing rapid transformation and businesses are moving at an accelerated pace in order to keep up. The recent need for mobility coupled with increased competition and demand from clients puts pressure on margins. This has made it it increasingly important to deliver projects on time and budget whilst ensuring efficient finance processes.

This report will provide you with best practice recommendations to consider applying to your business.

Consider these four areas as the foundation for sound financial management:

    • Manage Working Capital
    • Control Costs
    • Accelerate Month End
    • Provide Accurate Reports for Decision-Making