Sam Carigliano describes how engineers can use the cloud to support collaborative working
Birds migrate in a V formation because, as a bird flaps its wings, it parts the air and allows another bird following in its path to receive a free lift and traverse the skies more effectively.
Likewise, structural engineers must also work collaboratively to improve efficiency and productivity.
Whether it’s between structural engineers and architects or consulting engineers and clients, collaboration is an important part of structural engineering.
Despite its importance, collaborative working has faced a number of challenges in recent years, particularly in the form of remote working.
Since e-mails first allowed engineers to communicate and share files electronically and across long distances, technology has naturally progressed to better facilitate remote working.
In fact, many modern structural engineering companies offer flexible working to employees, allowing engineers to work remotely. Yet this presents a logistical issue with software and documents.
Traditional structural engineering software was not set up for collaborative working.
For example, each time a document was edited by a different person, a new version would be generated. This created confusion and was difficult to organise, particularly for structural engineering projects where important differences between two versions of a design can potentially go unnoticed.
A very simple example is when a structural engineer is designing a beam and has to make adjustments to the location of a support, it could potentially pose a health and safety risk if the wrong version of the project is used.
This would mean that the risks of remote collaborative working would outweigh the benefits, unless it was able to be implemented properly.
Fortunately, this is changing with the development of cloud software, which can be used to streamline collaborative working.
It allows engineers to access files, data and software from any computer in any location.
Multiple versions of a document no longer exist because everyone with access and the appropriate permissions can edit the same document and avoid confusion.
Unlike traditional desktop-based software, cloud software also does not require the user to perform manual maintenance or updates, saving time and money.
Another advantage of cloud software over traditional software is that it’s easier and more convenient to use. This means tasks can be performed more quickly, resulting in increased business productivity.
We’ve seen these benefits come to the fore through business services such as DropBox, but more recently cloud computing has made its way to structural engineering software.
Having recognised the growing trend for cloud computing and its benefits, SkyCiv built its engineering software with cloud functionality in mind. The software supports and promotes collaborative working in the industry.
For example, colleagues sometimes peer review one another’s work while situated overseas.
With cloud computing, it’s possible for them to do so and return the feedback in a matter of hours.
Additionally, engineers on site visits can access documents and software in the same way as they would from the office.
With today’s technology, there are no excuses for delays in data and information transfer. Therefore, engineers are often expected to meet strict deadlines.
Cloud computing enables them to work outside of conventional working hours without having to stay in the office or delay important out-of-office work.
When the weather shifts, birds demonstrate faultless collaboration as they migrate to warmer climates.
Similarly, engineers must respond to the changing technological environment.
As more structural engineers are working away from the office and teams are spread out in different locations, they must adopt cloud software to maintain collaborative working relationships.
Sam Carigliano is CEO and co-founder of cloud-based structural engineering software provider SkyCiv.