Eamon Costello is a construction services company based in Tralee, Ireland. For over 45 years, the family-owned business has worked across a wide range of disciplines, from healthcare and education to residential and conservation projects.
The team at Eamon Costello is focused on delivering the highest quality projects at the best value for clients. The company’s longevity is testament to the experience and commitment in the business. However, some of the company processes had become outdated – and the organisation was keen to innovate.
Overcoming inconsistency and onerous forms
Director Paul Lynch explains, “The construction industry is virtually unrecognisable from where it was even in 2000. In Ireland, we’ve seen the introduction of BCAR, and technology has progressed leaps and bounds. We had systems that were fit for purpose when they were initiated, but were laboursome and time-consuming.”
Processes at Eamon Costello were largely paper-based, with staff taking large amounts of time to compare drawings manually and fill in onerous forms. Inconsistency was a major challenge. “Younger people especially had no interest in filling out forms because they took so long, and the standard of information we were getting back could be diabolical.”
In 2019, the company leadership team had a “Eureka moment” and decided to re-evaluate the processes in place across the whole business. It was clear that a modern technology platform was needed to support data management for the long-term. Given Autodesk’s commitment to continuing product innovation, Eamon Costello chose Autodesk Build, a unified construction management software platform for connecting teams, workflows and data.
Future-proofing problematic processes
Eamon Costello introduced Autodesk Build on a pilot project, an €11 million social housing project running across multiple disciplines. “We were keen to find a good meaty project with lots of trade involvement to assess the system against,” Paul explained.
The implementation involved a reassessment of the company’s overall processes, which created some difficulties. “We hadn’t fully anticipated the number of internal challenges that would come to light during the process. It was nothing to do with the Autodesk system, but there were residual challenges that we wanted to solve.”
The pilot project was a learning experience. For example, initially the team planned to convert the existing Word and Excel forms into Smart PDFs, when actually switching straight to the Autodesk format brought more benefits. Now, Eamon Costello has a new folder structure and forms in place and is using the team’s feedback to finalise the system. “Everything will be much more streamlined for the future.”
An intuitive solution for managing information
Eamon Costello is using a wide range of functions on Autodesk Build to share information. The issues management system is already proving very beneficial. “Previously our safety audits were completely paper-based. Now, we can capture live issues on the site and assign them to specific people; that’s a huge benefit for us,” Paul explains.
The team is finding Autodesk Build very intuitive. “We’re working with many people who come from a very low base in terms of their IT capability. However, anyone who has taken the time to follow the tutorials and immerse themselves in the system is completely fine with it. It’s a real endorsement of the platform.”
Experienced members of the team are using Autodesk Build to make their working lives easier. “We have foremen who are in their mid-sixties and aren’t very high tech themselves, but are finding the platform really helpful,” Paul notes. “They can see and tag sheets at the touch of a button. Rather than being locked in an office looking at racks of drawings, they can take their phones out on-site and bring up anything they want. It’s a big achievement.”
Improving efficiency and traceability
Autodesk Build has now been rolled out across Eamon Costello, with five live projects and three more to come shortly. With around thirty users to date, Paul believes that the time-saving has been the biggest benefit so far. Sheet comparisons, for example, had been completed manually, with site managers and engineers taking what were originally hardcopy drawings and comparing them line by line.
“With Autodesk Build, you can take two versions of a drawing and see the changes that have been made instantaneously – without the risk of missing anything, like previous revisions,” Paul explains. “In fifteen minutes, I had trained our office administrator to complete sheet comparisons; it’s invaluable from a site management perspective.”
Traceability across the business has also improved. “Previously it was a huge chore for people to complete checklists and take photos back into the office. Now, documentation and quality checks can be completed digitally, providing us with information in a standardised format. It’s much easier for the team, and we’re benefitting from a higher quality of information and traceability.”
Using digital plans on-site is also beneficial for sustainability. Prior to the introduction of Autodesk Build, Eamon Costello printed 52,473 sheets and 1795m2 of plotted paper over a two-year period. Now, that printing has been completely eliminated on the projects where Autodesk Build is in place, saving paper and energy and creating more environmentally-friendly builds.
Ways of working ready for the future
Introducing Autodesk Build has already helped Eamon Costello to deal with the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as using the platform to host remote site meetings. Having a centralised source of information has also made the business more resilient to unexpected events, such as staff absences.
“There was one project where we lost an engineer, and the site manager was on his own for a week and a half. He said that he probably wouldn’t have coped without Autodesk, but with the platform in place he had the information he needed and could still cover the ground even in the engineer’s absence,” Paul recalls.
As well as supporting the current team, Paul believes that having modern construction software in place will help to attract younger people to the business. “We’re constantly recruiting for all kinds of roles. As soon as we tell them that we use Autodesk, you can see them getting engaged and interested.”
In the year ahead, Paul and the team will focus on making use of even more features on Autodesk Build, including progress tracking, scheduling and assets. The next stage will be to get collaborators, including designers and subcontractors, onto the platform to further improve project processes. “The Autodesk product development team has been hugely responsive to our needs. With a few minor developments, it will be a fantastic solution that will grow with us and help us to keep up with the future of the industry.”
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