If a picture is worth a thousand words, then animated footage must be worth a whole lot more.
That’s the concept behind products offered by Systech International, a U.K.-based construction consultancy with worldwide offices including a Canadian location in Mississauga, Ont.
Among its offerings: the creation of “augmented reality” presentations designed to provide contractors with powerful evidence that can help to win legal disputes.
>Richard Morris, head of Expert Services with Systech International noted that a typical legal claim may require the support of a document hundreds of pages long, including schedules, diagrams, photographs, narratives describing what should have happened and what did happen, and the costs to the contractor.
Systech will prepare such a document, but will also augment reports with a high-level computer-animated sequence, fully narrated, showing exactly how delays affected the staging and construction of a project.
One of the company’s recent presentations was prepared on behalf of a contractor involved in mediation regarding a tramway project in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As part of the contract, the builder was promised that crews would experience no delays due to the presence of underground utility services across the proposed tram route to 1.2 metres deep.
A 3-D animated sequence prepared by Systech reveals the exact locations of what the contractor encountered — 368 utilities crossing the exclusion zone of a 700-metre section of the proposed track, colour coded to utility type.
While some of the services were abandoned, many were live, resulting in delays lasting months.
“Provided the presentation is based on existing records and existing facts, it’s very difficult for somebody to look at such a presentation and simply say ‘no, that didn’t happen,’” said Morris.
Keeping accurate site diaries is also critical to mounting an effective legal challenge or defense.
The company’s Site Diary App helps to automate the process of creating accurate construction records that can be used to support a legal case months or years later.
Installed on a smart phone, the app prompts the user to complete the daily log regimen according to a specific sequence, something paper logs can’t do.
The user answers a series of questions that might become relevant — for example, whether there are any problems with construction progress that day and who appears to be responsible.
Users speak into the phone and the reports are converted to text and date stamped.
Geo-tagged photographs can be taken to augment the record.
The reports are ultimately converted to PDF format and emailed to the construction office, while data is backed up to the cloud.
Installed on a smartphone, Systech International’s Site Diary App prompts the user to complete the daily log.
The app is also BIM-compatible, allowing records to be filed with building project plans.
“If it ain’t written down it didn’t happen,” noted Morris.
“However, records prepared at the time that the work was done onsite by staff with direct knowledge of the events carry far more weight than those produced after the event, when they may be influenced by hindsight. Time spent keeping records now is also cheaper. Certainly a lot less expensive than getting someone like me to come along and sit in a plant for months at a time, asking what happened, and getting a story out of your staff or former employees that could have easily been captured at the time of the project.”
Morris said he recalls seeing a traditional paper site diary containing some cryptic entries that could have been avoided by automated record keeping:
“For two weeks in the summer, the site was apparently on holiday because that’s all that was recorded in the site diary,” he said.