Covid-19 has been particularly tough on construction but one big positive has been the way it has encouraged companies to experiment with new ways of working. Mastercraft is a prime example of this as it has been using site scanning software developed by technology company, Oculo.ai, at its Claridge’s Hotel project in Mayfair, London.
“We saw Oculo as a way to reduce visits and as a way to be able to look at the whole building in your own time… We used to fly over once a week and whatever was the crisis that week, is what you would go to deal with, but what you’re not seeing then are all the other small issues and the progress that is or isn’t happening elsewhere, so if you have this software you can see what needs to be the next big priority,” explained Mastercraft’s Micheál O’Kane.
Oculo uses a 360 video camera mounted on a hardhat to record site progress each week during the usual job walk. Mastercraft adopted the technology when the travel ban came into force as the project manager was based in Belfast, but with social distancing regulations also limiting the number of people allowed onsite, it has played a vital role in giving other professionals, such as the QS and design team, access to the site as well, so that inspections and valuations can be carried out remotely.
Oculo does this by creating a virtual copy of the site that is navigable, so it’s just like having a Google Streetview of your own site. Users can then move around the site via the online platform, zoom in on areas of interest and pin notes in the virtual space which allows them to log RFIs, snags and notify clients or contractors about specific issues.
With construction delays often resulting in delayed contractor payments, the Oculo system also has the potential to help improve cashflow management. It does this in two ways, firstly by allowing valuations to be carried out on the due date so they can more accurately reflect work completed up until that exact point and, secondly, by creating a permanent, visual record of onsite progress.
For Mastercraft, this is one of the key benefits that the software has over other approaches they’ve tried such as taking camera phone photos. Mastercraft does an Oculo scan once a week, so in the unfortunate event of a dispute, they have a body of evidence that would allow them to clarify what was done and when in a matter of minutes. Crucially, Oculo uses 360° video footage so this doesn’t rely on the team anticipating what might be a problem because everything on the jobwalk is captured.
Oculo is currently offering free trials to companies impacted by COVID-19. For more info see their website, oculo.ai