Black & Veatch is an industry-leading engineering and construction company, with over 10,000 employees worldwide. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has largely immobilized their team and made site visits difficult. Employee health and safety are top priority for Black & Veatch, so as an alternative to travel, they’re using Avatour across their operations. In this case study, we examine the application of Avatour for site risk assessment and process reviews.

Who is Black & Veatch?

Headquartered in Kansas City, Black & Veatch is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company specializing in infrastructure development in the energy, water, telecommunications, management consulting, federal and environmental markets. Their services include conceptual and preliminary engineering services, engineering design, procurement, construction, financial management, and asset management.

COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessments with Avatour

We spoke with Robert Warren, Senior Environmental Scientist at Black & Veatch, to learn about his experience with Avatour.

What is your position and what are you responsible for at Black & Veatch?

“I’m the Senior Environmental Scientist in the Environmental Group. We deal with a wide range of regulatory and permitting tasks, including due diligence, environmental, ecology, disease control, industrial hygiene, safety, and air permitting.”

How are you using Avatour?

“I’m currently using Avatour for workplace risk assessments in regards to COVID-19. We’re looking at reducing the risk of infection in the workplace in all industries we work with, from the office, to manufacturing, warehousing, outdoor spaces, and construction sites.

“With Avatour, we’re going to any location to improve administrative and engineering controls to reduce the risk of COVID-19. We’re able to observe employee behaviors, traffic flows, PPE use, and workplace design all while maintaining social distancing. One of the great things about Avatour is it’s not obtrusive, and it’s easy for them to leave it somewhere and for me to do long term sporadic observations of traffic or worker habits. I can check in on a regular basis, whereas if I go to a site, I’d have to stand there and have someone walk me around.

“Additionally, we’re using it for travel. We’re sending it to places where it’s cheaper to use than to have people fly. Sometimes it’s for meetings but mostly it’s for tours of facilities if we’re designing or inspecting a system.

“We have a construction division in Black and Veatch and we’ve been doing site visits to our construction sites. It really reduces our travel costs and the risk to our employees. We don’t have to congregate, we don’t have to travel, we don’t have to get on a plane… and it’s cheaper! We’ve been using it for site visits for power and water applications, as well as telecommunications applications, putting up cell towers and building pump houses.”

“Also, the fact that we can record our site visits is really great. When we’re doing environmental site assessments, I can ‘return’ to the site any time and see what I saw again. That’s really handy, especially when you’re doing research on the site and find out there’s a concern that you hadn’t considered initially and now you wondered did I see that or didn’t I see that when I was on the site.

“The previous solution for that was to take a whole bunch of photos or videos. The fact that this has the 360° capability is really handy – I can turn my head in a different direction when I’m on an Avatour session.”

What were you using before Avatour?

“I was flying there and walking around the place myself. Something that would appeal to us in the future is Avatour with a drone or segway so I can move around so I’m in a location and observe workers.”

Do you know how much Avatour has saved you in terms of cost?

“I’m not sure of an exact number but it’s safe to say it’s saved us a few thousand dollars every time we’ve used it.”

Will you use Avatour after COVID-19?

“I’m sure. Just because of the economy of travel. It just makes sense. Whether it’s me or others. Our travel budget is hundreds of thousands a day and It not only has safety but the financial benefit.”

Would you recommend Avatour? 

“Yes, I have!”