Case study: SoilBuild Smart Inspection
Founded in 1976, Soilbuild Construction Group Ltd. (the “Group” or “Soilbuild”) is a leading builder with a long and successful track record of constructing a sterling award-winning portfolio of residential and business space properties. Since its inception, Soilbuild charts over 40 years of success in offering a full spectrum of real estate services which includes Civil Engineering, Design and Build, Construction, Turnkey Construction, Project Management Consultancy, Procurement and Mechanical & Electrical Installation, Precast and Prefabrication.
Soil-Build (Pte.) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Group, is A1-graded under CW01 (General Building) and A2-graded under CW02 (Civil engineering) by the Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA). The A1 grading under CW01 allows the company to tender for public sector projects in Singapore of unlimited contract value. Since 2018, the Group has also expanded into precast and prefabrication business & extended its business to local civil works market and was awarded the tender for the Integrated Construction and Precast Hub (“ICPH”) which was completed & commission in year 2018. Soilbuild was also the winner of Heritage Brands category from the Singapore Prestige Brand Award 15.
With the challenges facing build industry in the covid and post covid era, the Soilbuild team is looking to further along their digital transformation journey with productivity improvement through automation by implementing a 3D digital site inspection and defect management system which can enable collaboration between their onsite stakeholders (across their Singapore and Malaysia plants), to improve the overall reliability of defects identification and drive remote based stakeholder’s engagements.
The pain points which Soilbuild have faced are consistent with what most construction companies are facing in the Singapore build industry as part of the ongoing efforts to improve the overall productivity of the industry. They typically fall into a few categories.
1. Dependence on manpower
Dependence on the tight labour manpower situation, especially in Singapore. The skillset of the labour pool can be inconsistent over time and with the increased regulatory framework, the cost of labour is expected to remain escalated for some time. Thus, leveraging technology to reduce the amount of time needed and manpower to complete ongoing tasks at the production lines will significantly improve the overall productivity of their workers.
2. Maintaining consistent quality
Improving the consistency of the quality of the work at their precast production lines. As the construction industry continues the transition from traditional construction method and processes to newer more advanced production processes such as Design for Manufacture & Assembly (DfMA), it is crucial that the industry is able to use tools to automate the quality assurance and quality control process as well. Any form of quality issues or rework needed are unforeseen additional costs to the operations and should be minimized or removed altogether
3. Lack of transparency & coordination
Enabling better transparency and better coordination between their production team onsite with the Resident Engineers (RE) or Resident Technical Officers (RTO). While the role of RE/RTO remains crucial to the industry, the need to move the related data to the cloud for quicker access and having the right tools to foster better transparency and communication among the various stakeholders is important, especially in the industry where cross team implementation is significant.
National Innovation Challenge
In July 2020, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched the National Innovation Challenge (NIC) on the Open Innovation Platform (OIP). The OIP matches businesses’ innovation needs with global pool of technology solvers through a structured innovation process. By bringing together enterprises, sector leads and tech industry partners to co-create and deploy innovative solutions, complex business challenges, such as SoilBuild’s SafeInspection, is prototype and deployed quickly. Through OIP, Soilbuild was matched with VooX to develop and deploy a cloud-based smart inspection system for their ICPH factory across their production lines for precast components. The challenge was supported by the sector lead, Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA).
Why VooX Smart Inspection System?
With the implementation of the VooX Smart Inspection System, Soilbuild’s team has been able to achieve the following:
By utilising hand-held device with machine vision capabilities to automatically detect visual and dimension defects and log them into the defects management system.
Remote support to overcome Covid-19 travel restrictions
Real-time video conferencing enhanced with augmented reality and cloud anchors for their Singapore based subject matter experts to correspond with their Malaysia’s counterparts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Effective & efficient collaboration
The use of VooX multiplayer canvases to visualise spatial information of data (defects, tasks and more) to enable seamless async. and sync. collaboration.
Upskilling of front line workers
Using a combination of standardised workflow, checklists and accountability tools to provide just-in-time training and knowledge transfer.
On the infrastructure level, the VooX system was built by leveraging the efficient foundational services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for object storage that VooX requires for transferring data and AWS Lambda and Fargate to process the incoming data without provisioning or managing servers. These solutions helped VooX to significantly reduced the infrastructure and deployment costs while providing peace of mind to the Soilbuild team.
AWS Fargate has also enabled machine learning and machine vision algorithms to be used in the cloud to inspect multiple components in parallel, vastly improving turn-around times and eliminating the use of expensive on-prem processing units. Given the easy set up of CI/CD processes on AWS, updating and monitoring these algorithms is a breeze. With Serverless technologies, AWS has helped us adhere to the “tightly aligned, loosely coupled” engineering principle, to ensure our algorithms are scalable.
VooX also deployed its application using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a secure, reliable, scalable, and fully managed container orchestration service. This allowed VooX to easily package the entire application and move it to the cloud without making code changes.
Business processes Improvement
With the VooX tools, the teams were able to eliminate the various potential delays in the current production cycle due to the limitations of the current tools & thus, were able to significantly improve & streamline the QA/QC process which also helped reduce the dependency on human intervention
What you see is what you get
One other benefit in the new set of tools is the introduction of 3D spatial capture with the use of AR based video collaboration features which greatly enhance the accuracy and the speed by which the experts are able to guide the front line teams in solving the defects and issues identified.
Overall, between the improved workflow and the improved time needed to identify and solve defects and issues, the team was able to achieve a 23% decrease in turn-around time between inspections and rectification, which resulted in significantly less delays across the board.
Consistent quality assurance
With the deployment of regular point cloud scan in the QA/QC process of the production cycle, the system is able to automatically pick up an increasing array of systemic potential issues to avoid quality defects and with the use of AI, the system is able to both speed up the detection time needed, as well as the quality of the defects identified. Overall, the team sees an projected 56% Increase in quality assurance competency across the various production lines
Reduced travel expenses and time spent on travelling
With the availability of the remote Subject Matter Expert support system, the team is expecting to reduce at least 20-30% of their previous travels to all locations for the necessary inspection by the Resident Technical Officers & Resident Engineers.
VooX is a spatial based solution company & was founded in year 2016 by a couple of technology & industrial veterans with the headquarter in Singapore & with office in China (Shanghai). Leveraging the fast-growing Asia Pacific market & the world leading Fortune 500 companies, the team seeks to deliver productivity solution for front line teams leveraging the latest technology in AI, Spatial computing, Human to Machine Interactivity & IoT across the petrochemical, energy, railway transit, intelligent manufacturing, architecture, construction and engineering, training and education industries