How a New Zealand company reduced costs while improving safety with Scaffold Designer
Total Access Ltd. is one of New Zealand’s largest scaffolding suppliers, with more than 8,000 jobs completed since 2008. A workforce of more than 250 provides access machines, scaffold and industrial abseil solutions to residential and commercial customers, primarily in the country’s northern region.
Total Access was a decade old when company leaders realized they needed to change the way the firm handled scaffold design. The company’s draftsmen were relying on old-fashioned pencil and paper to sketch out designs. Operations managers were spending unnecessary time making gear lists by hand, and measurements such as weights, allocation and loadings required manually populating a spreadsheet and an element of guesswork. As a whole, the design process was needlessly costly and time-consuming.
Recent legislation in New Zealand tightened laws around health and safety in construction. Meeting stringent standards to receive approval from an engineer became even more difficult without a technical drawing. For a more complex project, workers had to put in time to build a model in the yard for an engineer to review. Other times, managers would only find out about required changes once a project was under way.
Total Access examined several scaffold design technology solutions and selected Avontus Software’s Scaffold Designer. Managers felt that the tool had the best 3D visualization, gear lists and load calculation.
Thanks to the software, Total Access no longer needs to involve an engineer until a job is accepted in most cases, and the approval process is much faster. A draftsman can now create a computer model in a fraction of the time it once took to construct a sample structure in the yard.
Instead of extensive back and forth, engineers can now look at the visual representation and simply sign off or make any changes needed. Draftsmen also have the opportunity to provide multiple options for the engineer to choose from. Engineers review designs more quickly and don’t need to make as many site visits. If Total Access does engage an engineer in advance, such as on a major job, the expense is reduced.
The math makes sense: Total Access managers estimate that the monthly cost of Scaffold Designer is equivalent to just a few hours of an engineer’s time. The software also allows operations managers to be more efficient and productive. They don’t have to spend a lot of time creating a gear list, and they always know they have the right equipment on the truck. They also have a more accurate picture of the real cost of materials and the number of trips they need to take, speeding up the building process and preventing the firm from underpricing.
Total Access’s draftsman and estimator says Scaffold Designer has also helped the company win jobs. By sending customers a detailed model of how a scaffold will look in a given location, the company can inspire confidence that it will meet regulatory standards. Customers are impressed by the 3D visualizations, and the drawings help make sales. Scaffold Viewer, an augmented reality tool for desktop and mobile, allows Total Access to give customers an even more accurate view of how a scaffold will look in the real world.
Strong support is another benefit the company sees in Scaffold Designer. “Whenever there’s a question or issue, Avontus will respond within four hours to one day — and we are on the other side of the world.”