Capturing project data on-the-go can bring real-time efficiency benefits to a construction project – but what do you do with the information when you’re in one of the most remote and hostile places on Earth?
Location: Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica
Client: British Antarctic Survey
When it comes to working in remote environments, it doesn’t come much more challenging then Antarctica.
Earth’s southernmost continent is almost entirely covered by a thick layer of ice and remains one of the most isolated places on the planet, with temperatures that can plunge to the minus 60s.
Nevertheless, between 1,000 and 5,000 hardy souls make Antarctica their home throughout the year, working at research stations dotted across the continent.
At one such station, the Rothera camp used by the British Antarctic Survey Expedition, construction and civil engineering specialist BAM Nuttall is developing a new wharf as part of a £100m upgrade.
Rothera, on Adelaide Island to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, is the largest British facility on Antarctica. It is a centre for biological research by UK university and international science programmes, as well as being a hub for supporting deep-field and air operations. The site includes the Bonner research laboratory, a crushed rock runway, hanger and wharf.
As part of the upgrade, a 50-strong team will spend two Antarctic summers dismantling the old, 60m wharf a building a new, 74m one to house a new vessel, the RSS Sir David Attenborough, one of the most advanced polar research ships in the world.
BAM Nuttall is using mobile data collection in order to improve efficiency and productivity, with field engineers able to conduct tasks such as completing digital forms, taking photos and videos, and capturing signatures in real-time while out on site using the WorkMobile tool.
However, due to the site’s remote location, basic services such as internet connectivity and mobile phone signals will not be available, making transmitting the data extremely difficult.
The team will therefore use a localised WorkMobile server to collect and store information in the cloud for the duration of the project. When they return to the UK, they will be able to download this data and automatically generate the necessary reports and compliance documents needed for the work.
BAM Nuttall chose Manchester based WorkMobile’s application because it allows users to create mobile forms relevant to specific jobs, including site inspections, health and safety forms, site surveys and site diaries. Using digital forms to capture the information for these vital documents reduces the risk of data being lost or collected incorrectly, meeting compliance requirements.
Rob Youster, director of ICT at BAM Nuttall, believes the project was the most challenging and exciting he has experienced in his 30-year career with the firm.
“With the lack of internet connection at this location and site personnel being on-site for six to 10 months, the team had to produce something unique,” he said.
“My team worked on various designs but eventually created a robust, secure mobile data centre that would work in this potentially hostile environment.
“Once the designs were approved, we then needed a preferred supplier that was willing to be flexible in its approach, including its engagement with the client and its data capture solution. WorkMobile was that supplier and ensured the project had what was needed; they well worked well with our project teams and met our stringent security requirements.
“Both BAM Nuttall and WorkMobile have produced a unique and one-off solution that may as well have been on the planet Mars.”
Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, said: “Site inspections and reports are crucial to ensuring projects are completed in line with contractual obligations. But when operating in parts of the world like Antarctica, it makes the job of collecting this information troublesome and can present problems when providing evidence of the work that has been delivered.
“It’s great to see that our solution has been adopted by BAM Nuttall as part of their special project. The field team now has a flexible toolkit that can help meet the needs of the contract quickly and effectively, so they can clearly demonstrate the service they have provided.”
Chief Support Officer
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