Scaffolding leaders turn to technology to prepare for the post-COVID world

As we adjust to a post-COVID world, a lot of uncertainties are emerging around safety, productivity, supply chain management and labour availability. In this Opinion piece, Andrew Smith from Avontus discusses the way forward.

Around the world, industry growth has been hampered by restricted site operations, disruptions in supply chains, and on-going labour shortages. Yet, even in these challenging times, the industry is moving forward, taking fresh steps on the path towards digitalisation. The digitalisation trend across the scaffolding industry dovetails with the UK’s construction recovery plan. In which, digitalisation is emerging as the key to business resilience and growth.

What does the future hold?

Technology implementation is expected to help companies adapt to the new way of working and support development of new capabilities for the upcoming wave of projects. Changes that are being implemented today will substantially transform the industry in the long term.

In particular, our recent Scaffolding Digital Outlook report found that businesses are increasingly investing in scaffolding software. Contractors are deploying digital solutions to drive down costs, maximise resources, and increase productivity and safety. According to the report, a whopping 90% of surveyed scaffolding businesses have rolled out at least one digital scaffolding solution. Other key areas that leaders are focusing on include:

  • Digitising scaffold drawings and automating material calculation to save time and increase tender accuracy.
  • Facilitating remote collaboration by enabling offsite production methods (e.g, visualisation of 3D scaffold modelling in a controlled environment).
  • Streamlining workflows, increasing on-site productivity, and removing silos with an integrated scaffold management platform.

Scaffolding technology investment priorities

With more stringent social distancing policies, construction automation has become a priority for industry leaders. Even prior to the crisis, the industry had already taken important steps towards improving on-site execution by moving from manual paperwork to digital collaboration.

To cope with supply chain disruptions, many contractors have also rolled out robust inventory management systems that allow them to track and monitor critical materials and long-lead items.

For example, engineers can now remotely walk through scaffold modifications with the foreman using scaffold design software. Meanwhile, scaffolders are able to access the project scope and request materials according to the change order. No need to rely on back-office communication to get things done.

Beyond that, as a software vendor, our vision for the industry is moving towards an ecosystem of scaffolding applications. So you can expect your design application to work seamlessly with an inventory management software, or even accounting platforms.

This brings complete transparency to workflows and improves overall productivity. Construction data consolidation also enables field mobility – making it easier to coordinate work without having everyone on the site. Think virtual scaffolding tags for inspection, PPE tracking and inventory monitoring – all these processes can now be handled virtually, from anywhere. The scaffolding industry is ripe for digital transformation. From building new strengths in scaffolding management to long-term improvements in workflow, take advantage of modern technologies to increase operational efficiencies and profits.

Andrew Smith, Vice President Operations; Avontus