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Featured in Engineering News: “Company launches mobile app for collaborative construction platform”

Posted on July 15, 2016


Prebuild, construction phase and postbuild collaboration solutions provider Onsite Control Systems (OCS) in October launched a cross-platform mobile application (app) version of its OnSiteIMS online collaboration platform, which is now available for iOS, Android and Windows 10 devices.

The app enables those working on projects using the OnSiteIMS collaboration platform to work remotely or on site through a mobile device.

OCS MD John Haefele tells Engineering News that South Africa’s current construction and project management method is in dire need of an upgrade and that the industry requires less complex operations that increase real-time accountability and streamline key processes.

Therefore, he highlights the online platform, initially launched in 2008, as a solution that provides easily manageable and effective construction information management.

“Effective information management reduces the excuse for nonperformance and frees up limited resources and time to be better spent on aspects that create success,” Haefele says.

The OnSiteIMS solution is a cloud-based collaboration system that provides one platform for all development-related information. It re-engineers information- creation methods across all channels and from all disciplines. This enables the client, developer, professional team and contractor to distribute any information type – whether instructions, correspondence, documents, actions, drawings or requests – among themselves and on to subcontractors and suppliers, in a manageable, productive, efficient and traceable manner from mobile and online interfaces.

“Teams work ferociously against inherent problems to keep the project aligned, but, owing to the industry’s traditional methods and historically flawed tendenciesthe same issuestend to prevail and the project is not always a success,” says Haefele.

With 20 years’ experience in African construction, he notes that the industry norm is anything but acceptable. He has played a direct role at various disciplinary levels on many large-scale developments and explains that diligent project teams and well-organised project managers do their best to tackle the challenges presented in the available system using traditional methods.

“Owing to a lack of contractually efficient information-sharing platforms, the results tend to be less than desirable. However, the reasons for any project’s failure are easily recognisable and definable, and can be overcome with the appropriate system and a mind-set change among management,” Haefele adds.

The traditional management process involves many communication routes, such as two-way radios, cellphones, pigeon hole distribution, file transfer protocol and Dropbox-type platforms, hard copy delivery and email delivery and, while these do allow for flexibility, the contractual pitfalls of each results in the persistent challenges in the industry.

“The slow adaptation to change in the traditionally accepted method of information creation and flow, as well as the myriad of methods currently used to relay this information, is a significant challenge and a definite stumbling block facing the construction industry. These issues need to be addressed now if we are going to successfully move the industry forward.”

Projects in Progress 
OnSiteIMS is currently on 34 construction projects in South AfricaGhana and Namibia. “Five of these projects have development values over R1-billion each and we are seeing substantial repeat business; traditional protocols are shifting and the benefits are becoming increasingly prevalent,” Haefele comments.

Construction work on Atterbury Properties’ Accra Mall(Phase 1A and Phase B) – extensions to Ghana’s first A-grade shopping centre – started in July and project management firm GHC Africa implemented the system as the information management and collaboration platform for the project.

Project management firm Diagonal Projects Africa, also in Ghana, has implemented OnSiteIMS as the information management and collaboration platform for construction work on the $48-million Garden City Mall project, in Kumasi. Construction on the project started this year and is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

Meanwhile, besides other prospective projects, OCS is in discussions with development company Abland Property Developers about a project on Alice lane, in Sandton, Johannesburg, which was requested by corporate construction group WBHO after the system was used on the R1.3-billion Newtown Junction project for Atterbury Properties, as well as potential contracts from construction management company SIP Project Managers and property development company Amdec Property Group, which was recently introduced to the solution.

In 2005, OCS partnered with a senior solutions architect and owner of software development firm Haefele Software, in the UK, to develop and launch the OnSiteIMS system.

The system was patented in 2008 through law firm Bowman Gilfillan and upgraded in 2010 to resolve the historical challenges and tendencies in the project and contracts management arenas.