Australia’s delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout and lockdown restrictions continue to cause disruptions to the workforce, forcing professionals to keep adapting with innovation solutions to replace physical interactions – plant and machinery valuations are no exception.

But what does this mean for a task where valuers act as the physical eyes and ears of the client?

While purists believe virtual inspections will never replace standing in front of a machine, there are plant and machinery valuers willing to venture into new and innovative ways to inspect assets.

Assured Valuations managing director Robert van Raay is one such professional.

“With Covid-19, valuer’s have had to re-assess how to inspect assets and it looks like we’re going to have to continually adapt as lockdowns and travel restrictions come and go. Virtual inspections have been necessary for valuers to be able to operate business as (un)usual and minimise any assumptions made from the desk,” he told ANZPJ.

Mr van Raay has had many challenging assignments over his 40 years in the industry, with his clients including private, public and government organisations, investors and financiers, insurers, lawyers and accountants. He is also cognisant of the accounting and taxation implications of his tangible asset valuations, having spent half his career in global accounting firms.

Despite his traditional background, Mr Van Raay believes virtual inspections can save time, save money and be more thorough than traditional methods – claiming plant and machinery valuers already adopt sampling a limited inspection of physical assets as being representative of the total inventory of assets they are valuing.

“Whilst eliminating the risk of spreading COVID-19 by not travelling to/from affected areas, virtual inspections also save time, cost and minimise other risks associated with travelling. Whilst nothing beats a physical inspection, a virtual inspection is the next best thing,” he said.

Mr van Raay said drones performing aerial photography, online satellite maps and computer network asset inventory checkers were just a few technological solutions to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Virtual inspections do not have to be complicated – they can be as simple as a facetime call with a client, or shared video/photo content,” he said.

“I have been able to complete valuations globally using these approaches, but, beware – I rejected photos/video sent to me from a client as the videos/images were five years old. I ultimately declined the engagement.”

Robert van Raay will be presenting on the virtual inspections of plant and machinery at the Australian Property Institute’s National Property Conference, which will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on from October 13 – 15. Registration are open and early bird prices are available until 17 August.

Nominations also remain open for the “Innovation” category at the Excellence in Property Awards.