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New Computer Technology For Costain

28 November 2011

Customers are now receiving a faster, more efficient service from Costain’s Geotechnical Services Division (GSD) following the acquisition of an inexpensive technical ‘fix’.

GSD engineers working on remote sites with no network connection have always found themselves fighting tight deadlines to file their logs with clients, who usually require reports within 48 hours. Until recently, this has required the engineers to fill in hard copy forms, but they then faced the problem of getting them to their destination within the time limit.

The problem has been solved with a new type of ‘ruggedised’ tablet computer that can stand up to outdoor conditions.

“All our clients want 48-hour log turnaround,” explains Geotechnical Engineer, Desmond Owens. “If I’m on site with a piece of paper I can’t get it to the office in time, so I’ve had to find a fax machine every morning or evening and fax the report across to our office, where we double up on the work as somebody would then have to transcribe it.” That is not always a straightforward process as even a small trace of mud on the paper form appears as a black smear when faxed.

“The ruggedised tablet PC has a touch-screen facility. I just go into Excel, fill in the details and e-mail it to the office. We can now get reports or worksheets across to clients within 24 hours. It’s definitely faster and a lot more convenient for me.” Photographs can be sent to clients to illustrate the reports or to GSD colleagues if seeking advice.

An added benefit is that engineers now have access to Costain's intranet, iCosNet, while out on site.

The idea was suggested by fellow Geotechnical Engineer, Alexandros Simantirakis, who used the first of the PCs on several London sites, while Owens is working with one on the A556 road project in Cheshire.

The machines and their peripherals cost less than £2,000 apiece, plus the monthly cost of a 3G communications card and Owens believes they will quickly pay for themselves in terms of much-reduced time spent transcribing reports. There is also a considerable carbon saving through much-reduced paperwork.