Beyond land surveyors, professional surveyors in the UK are either building surveyors or quantity surveyors. All face a ‘productivity puzzle’ daily whilst performing their multiple tasks and compiling their various reports. They may well ask themselves how they can easily become more productive, save time and add value, whilst saving paper.
Here Script&Go investigates their tasks and reports as well as the challenges and opportunities they face in their quest to be more productive. It then reveals how mobile digital solutions, such as BatiScript can assist them in solving their ‘productivity puzzle’.
Surveyors offer impartial and specialist advice across a wide range of surveying services. These services may relate to construction, measured and building surveys, asset management, insurance, feasibility, property and landlord and tenant issues and apply to various phases of the lifecycle of a project.
- Building surveyors are involved in design and construction management, provide advice on repair and maintenance of all building types, including historic and listed buildings, investigate building defects, provide party wall surveyor services, act as a Construction Design Management (CDM) client adviser, provide measured surveys, advise landlords and tenants on lease liabilities, prepare and negotiate schedules of damage or dilapidations on behalf of an insurance company, provide pre-acquisition surveys, approve and monitor tenants’ alterations on behalf of landlords and provide expert witness services. They are expected to provide information and report on these matters.
Professional building surveyors in the UK are usually members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) but may also be members of Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB) or the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) and have professional tasks and responsibilites defined by these bodies.
- Quantity surveyors primarily provide expert advice on construction costs. They are specifically involved in lifecycle costing, cost planning, procurement, tendering, contract administration and commercial management. They are expected to provide information report on these matters.
Fully qualified quantity surveyors in the UK can be members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and have professional tasks, duties and responsibilites defined by this body.
- Land surveyors primarily determine terrestrial or 3D positions of points and the distances and angles between them. They are expected to provide information and report on these matters;
Qualified land surveyors in the UK can be members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), The Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) has members specialised in engineering aspects of surveying, and the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying accredits surveyors who are experienced in structural surveying. They will have professional tasks, duties and responsibilites defined by these bodies.
Surveyors may use a variety of manual but also digital and increasingly mobile equipment, including total stations, robotic total stations, GPS receivers, retroreflectors, 3D scanners, radios, digital levels, subsurface locators, drones, GIS, handheld tablets, smartphones and dedicated software.
The various reports UK building and quantity surveyors may contribute to include :
- Mortgage Valuation Reports
- Home Survey Reports
- Condition Reports
- Home Buyer Reports
- Building Surveys (including as-built, structural, foundation surveys)
- Energy Performance Certificates
The various reports UK land surveyors may contribute to include those associated with:
- Geodetic / topographic surveys
- Cadastral surveys
- Hydrographic / oceanographic surveys
- Cartographic / levelling and set-out surveys
- Engineering / mining surveys
- Photographic control surveys
Traditionally these reports would have been compiled using manual processes, but today digital templates are available and used. The next step for surveyors to take to increase their productivity, is two-fold and centred upon mobility.
- Firstly, it is to enable surveyors to collect and capture data required for the compilation of these reports while mobile on site or in the field.
- Secondly, it is to enable surveyors to generate accurate data-rich reports through the use of handheld mobile devices, such as tablets or smartphones, while working remotely too if required.
The UK political context surrounding surveying
The UK government “Construction 2025” strategy highlights that the transition to a digital economy will mean fundamental changes to all of our working lives, driving “a step change in how we build and how our built environment operates.” Those involved in the surveying profession will not escape this transformation.
A 2017 research paper by the RICS, “The impact of emerging technologies on the surveying profession” identified the impact recent technological changes are expected to have on particular roles performed by surveyors. It outlines how during what is heralded the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ machines will perform tasks done by information workers too and will create a period of disruptive cross-sectorial change in the surveying profession.
The Internet of Things (IoT), 5G communications, machine-learning, robotics, building data and distributed ledger technology are cited in this paper as five key technology areas that will have a significant impact on surveying. It also indicates that surveying appears to be an industry with 88% of core tasks automation-ready to a greater or lesser degree.
Script&Go believes that by enabling the ‘step change’ and tackling it’s challenges for improving productivity head on surveyors will not only solve their ‘productivity puzzle’ but also give wider societal benefits.
3 Productivity challenges facing UK surveyors
UK surveyors face several productivity challenges. These relate in particular to changing skillset and property technology innovation needs. Ensuring they meet these challenges in an efficient way is critical to maintaining and improving their overall productivity.
The author of an independent report for the UK Construction Leadership Council in 2016 “The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model” – “Modernise or Die” – argues that surveyors need to take ownership of industry challenges to avoid becoming irrelevant.
These challenges relate to several key areas relating to
- Skillset Changes:
Generall speaking, the need for new skills within the surveying industry includes data analytic, cyber-security and soft skills which cannot be replicated by robotic or automated processes. “Modernise or Die” also called for improvement in transactional and data management and suggests that digital skills should be developed in these areas.
- Property Technology:
RICS conference feedback, survey results and anecdotal claims from professionals have shown that property technology, dubbed ‘PropTech,’ is a topic on which the UK construction and real estate firms seek further knowledge of the benefits of.
It was reported that the 2017 RICS Building Surveying conference gave rise to questions as to how small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) can adopt PropTech, how data be used to maximise efficiencies (thus productivity) in the industry, how PropTech is used across building surveying and other sectors and what cost-effective solutions for it are available. The 2018 conference will reveal how technological changes, through the deployment of PropTech solutions, will start to positively disrupt surveying. These solutions may include mobile digital solutions for real-estate information and data management, sharing, collaboration and analysis.
- Construction Technology :
Surveyors use of Construction Technology, dubbed ‘ConTech,’ is closely associated with the house building industry and the introduction of digital devices to enhance productivity in the sector continues to evolve, from laser-scanning equipment and measuring devices to hand-held tablet and smartphone data collection, defect/issue recording and reporting solutions.
Script&Go recognises that going forward changing skillsets (from manual to digital), PropTech as well as ConTech solutions are needed to optimise surveyors’ productivity. It believes in minimising duplication and human error through digital rather than manual processes and automation to allow all surveying professionals to make significant strides in improving their productivity.
2 Productivity Opportunities for surveyors
With the onset of the so-named ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (Industry 4.0) and the increased degree of automation it involves, there are two key productivity opportunities for UK surveyors to meet the challenges they face :
- Improved communication and collaboration
Tablet and smartphone take up, in conjunction with ever-improving telecommunications bandwidth, from 4G to 5G, is facilitating professional surveyors’ work processes, both on and off site.
Reaping the benefits of cloud-working, surveyors are able to communicate and collaborate more accurate data and information with clients and colleagues faster in many ways, sharing documents, photographs, notes and more, including in real-time.
The aim is for surveyors to capitalise on the benefits of cultural and process change, to lead to better communication by them and with them and to a more collaborative, transparent way of working.
For this they can use mobile digital solutions that harness the powers of automation to generate their reports. A 2017 University of Oxford, SAID Business School, research paper “PropTech 3.0: the future of real estate” reveals how PCs, tablets and mobile phones can even be dashboards for controlling functions of the “smart real estate” sector. Future developments in this sector look promising and productivity-enhancing collaborative mobile digital solutions statistical dashboards exist now to present real-time updates.
- Digitisation and mobilisation
Digitisation and Mobilisation
Coupled with the drive for improved communication and collaboration, to counter the productivity puzzle, is the specific need for increased digitisation and mobilisation of surveying professionals.
Using customised digital templates field and site survey data (including defects and issues) can be captured in a structured way by surveyors via tablet-based software or webapps or smartphone-based mobile apps and uploaded to a document management system (DMS). This data can then be annotated or edited, checked and through automated processes, used to generate and deliver a multitude of different survey reports.
Once captured in a DMS, data can be collated so that stakeholders can make informed decisions, plan procurement, reuse it for Building Information Modelling (BIM) or for comparison purposes. Photographs or sketches can be tagged and associated with a project site or trade, saving users from uploading images from a camera.
Through these methods and solutions across mobile digital devices surveyors can save time, improve quality, save waste and reap important productivity benefits and delivering fast return on investment.
Infographic © Script&Go : ‘Push-Pull’ of productivity rock
Script&Go agrees with these opportunities. The need for collaboration through digitisation and mobilisation across construction, including the surveying sector was outlined in it’s own whitepaper “Improving the productivity of the construction and infrastructure sector through mobile digital solutions.” This paper explains that the need to solve the ‘productivity puzzle’ is on all through a simultaneous “push-pull” approach by the UK government and industry stakeholders alike.
By understanding the main challenges facing them and the opportunities of improved collaboration and communication, digitisation and mobilisation, UK surveyors should be able to make an informed decision about how to solve their specific ‘productivity puzzle.’
Improving surveyor productivity through collaborative software
Infographic © Script&Go: Productivity transformation
The BatiScript mobile digital solution provides surveyors with a useful tool to respond to the communication and collaboration, digitisation and mobilisation opportunities by providing them with the core benefits of quality control and time savings to solve their ‘productivity puzzle.’ Using this form of collaborative defect management software leads to time-saving efficiencies, waste reduction, improved management processes, higher quality and reduced risk. Usable in full mobility, through use across operating systems on tablets and smartphones, it is also a user-friendly, collaborative, real-time solution.
The next step to solving the ‘productivity puzzle’