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By Jody Pellerin
May 29, 2017
Consider the difference between printed directions and the information you get from a traffic app on your mobile device. The app updates in real time, shows you where accidents or construction has blocked your route and provides other data like gas stations and restaurants to inform your drive mile by mile.
The paper map can’t do anything but show you the layout of the streets and roadways at the time it was printed.
If using a map for your commute seems outdated, the same perspective applies to construction project management.
You can spend hours in your trailer trying to update all of your Excel spreadsheets, or you could be out on the jobsite with your tablet updating, collaborating and sharing information in digital form, immediately and accurately.
Construction PM must move beyond paper. It’s time to take advantage of new technology to save time, effort and costs.
Construction software and Building Information Management (BIM) solutions provide a wide range of benefits, including:
Trevor Reed, Project Engineer for Volkert, Inc., [http://www.volkert.com] has this to say about BIM and PM solutions for the construction industry.
'[BIM] has replaced a lot of email,…server file management and file cabinets [as well as] FTP collaboration tools that were cumbersome and inefficient…We are able to capture critical data and details during design phases that are successfully transmitted to the contractor during construction.
Additionally, [project management] tools have facilitated greater collaboration, security, control and efficiency in file and data management'.
Reed finds that construction software and BIM preserve control of the overall construction design even as concurrent work on various design elements and updates are created in near real time. He also estimates that around 30 per cent of the cost of producing a design is saved because there is no need to create and label individual plan sheets. That percentage grows with the elimination of adding manual design changes, placing notes on graphics and orienting the plans into a printable format.
Most software and BIM solutions integrate or contain accounting applications. Project subcontracts, purchase orders, contracts and change order approvals update automatically in the accounting and project management system.
Users can view detailed records and send emails with attachments directly from the software solution. They also have access to other modules for information on subcontractors, suppliers, vendors, equipment, personnel and phases.
PM and BIM solutions improve exception management as well, allowing you to monitor, review and manage:
All activities are handled within the same system. All related records are automatically updated and management can be performed through any digital device from a PC on your desk to a smartphone or tablet in the field.
BIM is adopted almost universally and is often the main topic of discussion at industry trade shows. However, many contractors don’t realize they are using BIM workflows and processes. They are still using paper printouts of plans developed with data extracted from a BIM model.
Educational outreach is one answer to encouraging adoption of digital technology across the board. Trade groups and vendors can partner to exchange and distribute information and tutorials that show the promise of project management and other software solutions adapted for the construction industry.
Construction customers are also pushing the implementation of collaborative systems with central data access. When Delta Airlines modernized its terminal at JFK International airport, it required the construction company to use virtual design construction. The project controls manager for STV, the company executing the updates, states that using BIM and PM solutions reduced overall project completion time and made STV more competitive.
By standardizing BIM use for all projects, STV began winning more new projects, which could be built quicker and with less waste. The Gilbane Building Company, based out of Providence, Rhode Island, saw a 35 per cent decrease in average labor-hours that it attributes to using BIM and construction PM software.
While the paperless office still does not exist, replacing paper plans, schedules and spreadsheets with a digital solution is rapidly gaining ground in construction project management circles. The promise of increased productivity and reduced rework has been fulfilled many times over for those who adopted these solutions––a smart return on investment in a highly competitive environment.
The message is loud and clear: join in or be left behind.
A final quote from Trevor Reed perfectly sums up the need for these solutions in the construction industry.
'Construction is the final frontier for BIM and one of the driving reasons behind the promise of BIM. Our industry needs to work together with government agencies, consultants, contractors and software companies to devise a secure way to deliver and update the design components of BIM for contractor use throughout construction'.
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