SiteCam offers fresh view

ALFRED Cove-based Gavin Construction is a second-generation family business focused on the commercial and industrial building sector. The company employs 20 permanent staff managing contracts between $1 million and $20 million, with as many as 350 people on sites around Western Australia working through about 90 different sub contractors. The company’s most recent job was the headquarters for national shoe retailer, Betts group. The 37-year-old company, started by two brothers from Ireland, has grown to be a recognised leader in the field. In 2004, Gavin Construction was voted overall winner of the Master Builders Association Excellence in Construction Awards. Managing director Sean Gavin said that, when the company encountered an issue, it had a number of ways of dealing with them, guided by an accredited quality assurance system. “We have a reporting regime in place that captures and manages issues as they arise,” he said. “Weekly management review meetings with all department heads and key personnel are part of the company culture. “Quarterly management review meetings with the company’s leadership team are an essential part of steering the company forward by reflection of the past few months’ performance and collectively identifying refine-ments to the way we do business.” In addition, Mr Gavin said the company engaged a number of external consultants to provide advice on financial performance and systems/ personnel mana-gement. One problem the company had a few years ago was providing up-to-date information on the progress of remote and rural construction sites to assist contract managers. A solution considered at the time was for contract managers to undertake more travel, which was costly and time consuming. Instead, the company went for a technological innovation. Mr Gavin admits to being a bit of a Discovery Channel and Radio National “junkie”, and through this he picked the idea of using online surveillance cameras – SiteCam – to keep abreast of these sites located well out of reach of normal management coverage. “The technology effectively required the integration of three separate disciplines,” he said. “It was difficult to find someone to build the unit that could assimilate the digital camera with mobile phone and internet uplinks together. “At the time there were no off-the-shelf units available. The consultant who built our website was able to assist with finding the right person to make it happen.” Mr Gavin said that, once teething problems were overcome, such as camera lenses burning out when filming directly at the sun, the surprising result was that the benefit to the contract manager became secondary to that of his clients. “The feedback we received during client de-briefs on conclu-sion of the project was that being able to follow the progress of their building from the desktop of their office was refreshing,” he said. “The demographic of clients we build for regionally often isn’t located near the project. Many are city based. Remote access for them transferred to realtime savings. “We are currently working with two international companies where the SiteCam was an influencing factor in dealing with Gavin Construction. “The Centrelink call centre built in Bunbury was a big hit for the government agency. Staff from all over Australia were able to track the buildings daily progress. “We are also able to digitally collate all the static images from construction of the project into a mini movie and watch the birth of the building in less than 60 seconds. Clients love it, as does our staff. “Transparency in the way we build has many advantages to the client and therefore for Gavin Construction. Almost 50 per cent of our work is repeat and referral business. “In the overall scheme of things the benefits have been more PR rather than construction oriented. On-the-ground supervision is what counts in providing a successful product to clients. SiteCam is not a proxy to this, but instead it enhances our performance.”

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