What's your name and what position do you hold?
Simon Crowhen, Sales Manager-Geomatics, Topcon Positioning Ireland
What are your day to day responsibilities?
I am responsible for managing the Geomatics Sales team for Topcon Positioning Ireland. This requires working with the local sales team to provide solutions, support and training to our customer base for our innovative technologies.
What is your professional background?
I have been working for Topcon for 13 years in various roles offering geomatics and construction solutions for businesses to improve their productivity onsite, while managing local sales teams.
Prior to this, I had various roles as a Section and Setting out Engineer over a 4 year period. My last role included preparing 3d models for distribution for use with 3d machine control systems on the A2 Pepperhill to Cobham Widening Project in the South East of England.
How do you think the industry is coping with the Covid-19 crisis? What lasting impact do you see on the sector?
I think that the industry has been quick to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis and make sure that the workers are safe to deliver on time-sensitive contracts. The roll out of the SOP by CIF is a great example of how to return to site safely by giving a succinct “go-to guide” to keep your workforce safe during this pandemic.
I think the lasting impacts on the sector will be prioritising the essential workers onsite. Those that can work remotely will continue to do so. This will in turn result in positive time and travel cost savings, which will lead to fewer people physically on site which will have positive impacts for not just the COVID situation, but also the general health and safety of a site.
I also feel that there will be an increase in the adoption of technology that is focused on reducing the amount of people physically onsite. I do not believe that this will lead to a reduction in jobs, but more of a creation of roles that can perform their tasks remotely. Hopefully leading to a better work life balance and state of mind that has impacted the construction industry lately.
All of this will probably lead to the industry adopting some technologies quicker, such as modular offsite construction as it can be done in a more controlled manner.
How do you see tech innovation transforming this industry? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?
Automation – More automation, in line with more use of robotics and modular construction… feeding into lean construction. We have the digital data available for this. We already have automatic excavator and dozer systems saving on fuel, materials and time while increasing site safety. These also reduce interaction between the operator and the office as the cloud is utilised to transfer data, fitting in with the social distancing required for the COVID pandemic while lending itself towards remote working.
What will be the leading trends in the construction industry in coming years and how will businesses need to adapt?
Remote working from home where possible. The industry will have to provide the tools to do this. It will require the need to potentially adjust people’s job descriptions and roles slightly to allow this.
Digitisation of workflows through the use of connected office/home offices and sites – transforming skills with digital tools. This should have a positive impact on the skills gap that we currently see too.
The use of remote training and support will also aid the skills shortage.
Democratisation of some technologies in the positioning industry so that the benefits are relayed to all onsite. This also ties into the skills gap.
Modular offsite construction will require the use of digital workflows onsite. These will make sure that companies are completing construction within tolerance first time and onsite clashes are identified early in the construction phase. Saving time, materials and cost associated with reworks.
Simon will be speaking at the CIF Annual Conference on October 1st, online.
For more information visit www.cifconference.ie