What’s the key to succeeding in construction (or any field for that matter)? Two words: constant progress.
When you’re always learning and growing, you’re able to perform better and stay ahead of the curve. This is crucial, particularly in such a dynamic field like construction. Kim Arrant, the Vice President of Business of Transformation at APTIM, fully understands this, which is why the notion of continuous improvement is at the core of her role.
“My job is to change how we work. I look for opportunities to change and improve how we work.”
In our latest Behind the Build, we’re putting the spotlight on Kim and the journey that led her to APTIM. We also discuss what excites her about capital construction and her passion for transforming the industry through innovation.
Have a look at what she has to say.
What does APTIM specialize in?
APTIM is a full service organization that provides consulting, design, and implementation services for engineering & construction, asset management and remediation projects in both private and public sectors.
We specialize in engineering, program management, environmental services, disaster recovery, complex facility maintenance and construction services. We primarily serve Government, Oil, Gas, Chemical, Industrial, Commercial, and Power clients.
As for our approach, thinking differently and challenging the norm is our mandate. We are our customer’s advocate, no matter what the challenge may be, until resolution.
Can you describe your role as the VP of Business Transformation and what you spend your time on?
I work as a change agent. To put it another way, I look for opportunities to improve how we work at APTIM. With technology enabling our business lines, we have a lot of ground to cover.
Technology is a differentiator for our company. On our team, we have individuals that represent different kinds of technology — whether it’s reality capture, project data analytics, or engineering systems, these representatives help to package together the right solutions to best support our service offering.
Our goal is to provide a technology toolbox that supports our procedures, drives best practices, and is a source of differentiation for how we execute the work that we’re selling.
And so that’s what our team does; it’s continuous improvement enabled through technology deployment.
Tell us more about your career. What was your journey towards APTIM like?
I love learning. I have a deep passion for understanding how things work, and I’m what people would call a lifelong learner.
I have a pre med degree and I came into the environmental industry as a chemist. I was running and analyzing samples but I was always curious to learn more and why. Soon, I started working as a chemist on projects with engineers who were trying to define the extent of contamination on a site.
This was the time when databases and technology started taking off. You can put data in a book on a shelf, and it’s of very little value to you other than the specific reason it was collected, but you can take 20 years worth of data into a database and add spatial context and it actually turns into data capital.
I got more involved and intrigued with technology and data. I then had the opportunity to apply that knowledge to a disaster recovery project after Katrina. This sparked my interest in construction, and I’ve worked on a variety of construction projects for the last 12 years.
My first significant construction job was a civil job, the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal in New Orleans. It was a very innovative project for both its time and today. From a technology perspective, we looked at opportunities for mobile data collection, and the use of RFID tagging to capture data needed for long term O&M. We also worked toward an intelligent BIM model concept. There was so much technology beginning to emerge.
Once I did that job, I was hooked.
How has technology changed the construction industry in the last few years?
The keyword here is enablement. It’s amazing what technology can enable and the power that it brings.
I think the real shift that we’ve seen is that over the past several years, technology has gone from trying to capture information to better manage a job, to capturing information to better plan and implement the job.
That’s what’s exciting right now, and that’s where APTIM is pushing in from a differentiation perspective. Our focus is on the people in the field, turning the wrench, and making the money. What do they need? How can we best support them for their success?
This is a major focus because their success equals our success.
What are some of the challenges APTIM faces during the construction of manufacturing plants?
With the manufacturing plant projects, there are two primary things you need to focus on. There’s planning and having a keen awareness of where you are in the path of construction. You need to sequence how you build based on constructability. But there’s also that focus on mitigating constraints. You need to mitigate your work and ensure that you’ve got the materials, scaffolding, and permits at the right time.
It’s a very well-choreographed execution, and you need technology to accomplish it. Tools like BIM 360, Assemble, PlanGrid, and SiteSense — which is a partner of Autodesk — all make that possible.
Technology helps bring all stakeholders and data to the table. And this is critical because there has to be complete transparency of information in order to plan and choreograph to that level of detail.
Sure, you could do it with pencil and paper, but it’s much, much more difficult.
What’s your advice for those at the beginning of their technology implementation journey?
Recognize that implementing technology isn’t simply about buying hardware and software. That’s just the easy part. The hard part is sitting down, mapping your procedures, understanding how you work, understanding where you need to improve and how you improve, then folding that technology into your operations so that it advances your business.
One other thing is to hire the right people. The best people to find when implementing software are the ones who understand both technology and the business.
If you find people like that, hold on to them like gold.