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Front Line Mobile Technology

3 January 2012

Costain’s joint venture with Laing O’Rourke to develop London Underground’s Bond Street station, in central London, has been showcased as an example of how to use mobile technology to get information to front line construction industry staff.

Costain Engineer, Beth Willoughby, gave a presentation to the annual COMIT (Construction Opportunities for Mobile IT) conference on how new technology could improve the flow of knowledge to a project site – and challenged her audience to make it happen.

COMIT is an organisation made up of construction and IT bodies whose role is to promote mobile technology in construction.  Costain is a founding member. The conference was held at University College London.

“We’ve worked for over seven years to promote mobile technology and its use in the construction industry,” said Group Innovation and Knowledge Manager, Tim Embley. “This year, Costain played a major role in structuring the agenda in line with our business strategy, which is all about improving service to our customers.”

One way of doing so was via mobile technology, which could reduce costs, improve quality and enhance safe project delivery, he said.

Beth’s talk to the COMIT audience outlined how Building Information Modelling (BIM), which seeks to maintain a flow of information through a project’s lifespan, from design through construction to maintenance of a completed asset, is being implemented at Bond Street.

“Beth’s challenge was about getting the information to the site team using iPads and being able to access information right at the coal face,” said Tim.

“In the past BIM has been a designer’s tool,” added Costain’s Systems and Technology Director, Bill Price. “This is taking it down to the front line. She produced what was almost a working mock-up to demonstrate to people what she wanted and challenged the industry to deliver that.”

Her presentation was effectively ‘A morning in the life of a site manager’ showing how an iPad could be used to deliver start-of-work briefings, with videos of the worksite and indications of vital information such as safe areas, said Bill.

Beth added: "This is what I want to see; now it’s up to the mobile technology industry to collaborate with Costain and develop the tools to make it happen.”