ISSUE #61 – Interview with Sanjay Kewlani, Product Director, Novade Group
What are the main challenges in the building and construction industry in Singapore?
The building and construction industry in Singapore has major potential for productivity improvement. Precise metrics are difficult to capture – do you measure the output per worker, or should you focus on site operations productivity? – but the general consensus is that productivity in the construction industry in Singapore is 30% lower than in Japan and 50% lower than in Europe.
The Singapore government has ambitions to close the gap with developed nations in the coming decade. Measures have been put in place to reduce the reliance on foreign workers. In parallel, agencies are promoting the adoption of new methodologies such as design-build and prefabrication, as well as the adoption of IT capabilities, from mobile applications to cloud storage, to make building processes synchronised, standardised, efficient.
There is increasing adoption of new methodologies and IT capabilities to make building processes more efficient.
Can you give us a brief overview of Novade Group?
We are a Singapore-based technology start-up and, in very short period of time, we have become the market leader for digital solutions that improve productivity on building and construction sites in Singapore. Novade helps real estate developers, general contractors and engineering service providers manage field operations with easy-to-use and process-driven mobile applications. Applications automate and simplify tasks conducted on site such as quality inspections, safety checklists, and site equipment management and maintenance.
Novade was founded in 2013 by Denis Branthonne, a French native and the former Vice President of APAC Autodesk, and Eugene Low, a Singaporean entrepreneur with an impressive track record of providing software and services to the building and construction industry. At its inception, the founders decided to focus first on quality management on building sites, which generates tonnes of paper work during inspections. Traditionally, teams spend a lot of time collecting information on paper forms and checklists, and then inputting this data into Excel spreadsheets to generate the reports that management needs. There is very little visibility on the overall progress of a project due to this manual paper process and, as a result, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong on site and there is virtually no way to quantify and learn from mistakes.
Could you share with us how Novade’s applications help improve productivity in building and construction?
Novade Quality was designed to digitise the process of recording issues on site, and to make report generation painless and fast. Teams have real-time access to information from the field, and data can be analysed to improve performance on future projects. Since launching the application, the results have been impressive: a million quality observations have been conducted with mobile phones on construction sites in Singapore. Many large residential projects in Singapore now use Novade Quality. The services are now even extended to property owners.
We’ve since developed more applications that extend the digitisation of processes to areas like safety, logistics and facility maintenance.
Is Novade currently working on new projects?
Novade has leveraged the ubiquity of internet-connected mobile devices and cloud storage to bring affordable and focused applications to the field. With an eye on the future, the Internet of things is another area where Novade sees an opportunity. Smart sensors pushing data to the cloud can be used in a number of ways to provide a continuous flow of relevant data and make the maintenance of buildings and equipment more efficient and cost-effective.
The business is expanding rapidly to other markets and Novade is now used in six countries across the globe, namely Singapore, France, UK, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Interview with Sanjay Kewlani, Product Director, Novade Group
Interview published in the FOCUS Magazine “Principles of Productivity” – Issue #3 2016