In an age of cutting-edge technology, artificial intelligence and automation, it might surprise some to discover how many companies in the building industries are still hamstrung by manual processes.
The burden of compliance, inspection and certification processes prompted one frustrated building certifier to develop software to tackle the problem.
Building Compliance Systems (BCS) now has about 300 clients, ranging from “mum and dad” operations through to large national organisations.
Owned by Envoy Advanced Technologies, BCS delivers the programming component of the product, designed to allow businesses to digitise and automate their way into more efficient certification processes.
According to general manager Dean Wilson, it has been a game changer for the industry.
“It used to be you’d have building designers and architects come up with plans and that would be given to a building certifier as a set of documents that could be anywhere between 15 and 100-plus pages long,” he says.
“The whole process from reviewing the forms to issuing their approvals was manual. You’d be hand-stamping the pages, taking documents on site, ticking boxes, writing comments, then returning to the office where all the results of the inspection would be typed up and sent to the client.
“BCS has automated the lot.”
BCS is a document management system with cloud storage and the ability to generate compliant certifications ready for distribution.
The software not only reduces the volume of work but also the potential for human error. As such, its greatest benefit has been to reduce risk for building certifiers who carry incredibly high professional indemnity insurance premiums.
With interactive electronic checklists, BCS instructs them every step of the way on what needs to be done, so they can maintain consistency.
“It’s an extra layer of assurance that things don’t fall between the cracks,” Dean says.
“If, for example, they have to do a frame inspection, they have an electronic checklist that guides them in all the things they should look at in that context.
“They can pull up a set of plans while they’re onsite, check the specs – all on their tablet or phone – and if there are issues they can mark those documents up to highlight them, add comments, issue due dates for when defects must be corrected, take photos and so on.
“You can then generate an inspection report onsite or send the digital information back to the office for review before forwarding it to the client.”
All that information is stored in one place so it’s easy to refer back as needed.
“It’s a massive efficiency gain but also a win from a compliance perspective because it guarantees consistency,” Dean says.
Like most industries, regulations and compliance in the building industry can be a moving target. Not only do they change frequently, some vary between states and territories. It’s therefore challenging for companies, particularly SMEs, to stay abreast of changes and adapt their processes and forms to maintain compliance.
Working under the national construction code and building regulations in each state and territory, BCS is kept up to date and can provide geographically relevant services.
“None of the government authorities that oversee this communicate the information in one place – the onus is on industry professionals to stay informed,” Dean says.
“With BCS, as soon as you enter the address, the system knows, and only displays the forms relevant to that address.”
BCS covers certification across a wide range of sectors – from fire safety and swimming pool compliance to DDA accessibility, energy efficiency and acoustic certification.
“The majority of our clients use BCS to issue building certifications – that is, issuing the approval that allows someone to build a building. But there are a number of different tracks that sit under certification, and the concept is the same across all of them,” Dean says.
“Whether it’s strata, stormwater or hydraulic certification, the software can cater for all of them.”
While BCS can currently be integrated with other commonly used systems and cloud-based software, including Microsoft Word, Dropbox, Adobe, iCal and Google Maps, there are plans to open this up to other portals, including state-run portals.
Down the line, the software will incorporate other cutting-edge technology.
“Things like being able to go out and map a floorplan just using your tablet or phone to scan a room,” Dean says.
“There’s so much potential in this area that we’re slowly working towards. We’re thinking big picture.”
For more information visit Building Compliance Systems.