Warning: If you are easily offended or prefer to toddle along with the status quo because ‘that’s how it has always been done’ then please don’t bother reading any further… this article is for advocates of change only!
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has had a profound impact on the Construction Industry in recent years. We have learned the hard way that unless you are using BIM to drive value into a project then nobody really gives a FCK... that’s an acronym that I’m sure you are familiar with if you’ve ever set foot on a construction site.
Digital Project Management utilises what BIM and Lean Principles have to offer to generate tangible results on construction projects. Project Teams get encouraged by the power of Digital Construction when they see reductions in costs, shortening project durations and the ability to predict issues on site long before work commences.
So, what should we look to measure (i.e. KPI – Key Performance Indicator) and what sort of improvements can we expect (i.e. ROI – Return on Investment) from applying Digital Construction and Lean Principles to our construction projects?
The items listed below are some of the outcomes from our efforts on Data Centre projects over the last number of years, but similar outcomes could easily be achieved in other construction sectors including Pharmaceutical, Aviation, Health or Commercial/Residential High-Rise Developments.
Early involvement with design phase
Early Involvement is a must on all projects. An extra pair of eyes is always helpful but showing that person what needs to be reviewed at a point when they can have maximum impact is even better. If the Procurement Strategy or Contract Administration Process does not allow for early involvement, then the project will suffer. It makes complete sense, doesn’t it? Having the ability to engage the experts, the ones who build it, the ones who can provide ‘lessons learned’ early in the Project Lifecycle will ensure that best practice is applied, thereby reducing the likelihood of rework, additional costs or programme delays. Why would you do it any other way?
The number of RFIs/Variations recorded during project delivery.
Through a detailed digital review of the project information at the Design Team’s ‘Issued for Construction’ Release, over 550 potential RFIs/Variations were captured and resolved prior to proceeding to the Construction Phase.
Over the last number of years, it has been difficult to gauge who the biggest advocates for BIM have been. In recent times, Clients are becoming more educated about BIM and improving their understanding of they can best leverage Digital Construction to achieve their construction aspirations. Reviewing Access & Maintenance considerations and Plant Replacement Strategies by utilising the 3D Model through Walkthroughs and Virtual Reality applications allows Project Teams to highlight concerns long before the Drawing Approval Process begins. This enhances the chances of a drawing receiving a ‘Status A’ and avoids the dreaded ‘Negative Drawing Approval Cycle’.
The number of revisions required to receive ‘Status A’ on drawings.
By carefully coordinating the models and involving the Client in the Review Process, over 14 weeks of rejected drawings (‘Negative Drawing Approval Cycles’) were saved by identifying issues in a timely manner.
BIM Coordination Programme
The Construction Programme is a vital piece of information on any project, but we’ve found that using this information works as the basis for developing the logic for a BIM Coordination Programme. Developing a programme of deliverables (i.e. Technical Submittals, Modelled Content, Drawing Submissions etc.) while taking into account the ‘Long Lead’ items puts those in charge of Digital Construction and the wider Project Team in an extremely powerful position. If your organisation can map the required sequence of events relating to Model Coordination, Model Freeze and Drawing Approval then it increases the likelihood that the Construction Phase dominoes can fall uninterrupted! Understanding logistics and the build sequence allows you to break the model down into components that can be targeted in a timely manner. From here, the BIM Coordination Programme can be developed, and the wider Project Team will begin to realise how they can provide input making the model the focal point of project discussions.
The readiness of stakeholders and deliverables prior to construction.
A Last Planner approach to developing the BIM Coordination Programme identified key items which related to over 18 weeks of delay to the programme if they were not identified.
Data Collection and Data Analytics
Data Centre construction has become a speciality of ours, so it is a bit ironic that we collect data during project delivery which gets stored in another Data Centre! The funny thing is that not everyone involved in the project understands the importance of data at first. We have implemented the best processes and technology available with outstanding results demonstrating the power that data collection and data analysis can have on a construction project. The ability to take real-time data from the field and portray raw data through clever visuals and subsequently make decisions based on that real-time data from this is immensely beneficial. Huge time savings and reductions in waste are possible through these digital methods. Data Collection and Data Analytics inspired us to develop our first software product, PlanLoader.
PlanLoader attempts to connect the ‘non-desk’ users which account for over 80% of those involved in the Construction Industry. PlanLoader gives the entire construction network access to live data to manage the project and track progress and accountability. It provides real-time answers to the ‘Who’, the ‘What’ the ‘Where’ ‘When’ and the ‘Why’.
The administration costs per annum on the project.
By improving the way in which data is collected and shared, duplication of effort and non-value add tasks were eliminated resulting in savings of over €430,000 in administration costs per annum.
Automation is something to be embraced. Automation is your friend! Clash Tests and Progress Reports can be automated. If there are monotonous and repetitive tasks taking place that can take an hour/day/week of one of your valued employee’s time to do, then get a computer to do it. Get your employee to do value-add tasks that a computer cannot do!IFTTT (If This Then That)is a website that can learn your workflows and processes and replicate them. Why stop there... you can teach a computer to send emails, like social media posts, order online etc. You do not need a degree in computer science to learn how to do this. A lot of the automation tools are free so try them out. Many applications such asGoogle Sheets, Google Sites andMicrosoft Power BIcan save huge amounts of time by crunching the numbers and providing useful project management visuals. A few YouTube videos later and you will be on course to utilizing these tools to better your project management techniques.
The administration costs per annum on the project.
The implementation of automation could be said to have two-fold benefits as the repetitive tasks get completed but the employee that used to carry out these tasks becomes available to carry out other tasks. Savings of over €190,000 in administration costs per annum resulted from automation.
Design / Fabricate / Manufacture / Assemble (DFMA)
Speed of delivery and site constraints mean that DFMA is quickly becoming more and more common place on our project sites. We have seen some extremely innovative techniques through Off-site Fabrication and Modular Systems. Off-site preparation greatly reduces safety concerns such as working at height, vehicle movements and site congestion by over 60%. In some cases, construction programmes can be reduced by up to 50% significantly improving the speed of project delivery. These modern methods of construction are testimony to the early involvement of key project stakeholders who have the expertise to strategies these plans. However, sometimes being innovative means trying something new, something unquantifiable, and therefore to a certain extent requires an educated leap of faith. Using simple digital techniques such as QR Coding and ‘Tag & Track’ can introduce greater visibility on progress in the field. The industry is moving towards IoT and there are many technological advancements to look forward to that will leverage this increased connectivity.
The duration of the project.
Through a number of innovative workshops, the base construction programme was interrogated and the duration of a number of activities was reduced by up 53% in some cases.
Validation of Installation
On-site setting out in the Construction Industry can be poor in many cases and that is putting it mildly! The mantra of “First up, best dressed” is often applied which has a hugely negative impact on the subsequent trades. Feel free to point the finger of blame at the biggest culprits in the comment box if you wish!
The importance of validating the setting out of installation is more critical now than ever. There used to be loads of room to hide at Handover because ‘Redline Markups’ would suffice and who in their right mind ever really went back to validate them. The best you could hope for were Spot Checks. However, the stakes have changed.
A considerable number of Project Team members and a considerable portion of the project budget is dedicated to producing invaluable 3D models. A huge effort is put into ensuring that these models are coordinated so why would we allow all that effort to come undone through sloppy setting out during installation. When things go wrong, the begrudgers are quick to blame BIM and refer to it as a waste of time and money. However, by validating the installation on-site, the hard work during Coordination pays off as on-site conditions can quickly be measured against the model/drawing content. This is the quickest and most hassle-free way to resolve disputes in the latter stages of project delivery. Laser Scanning is in vogue at the minute but new options such as ‘Spot the Robot Dog’ by Boston Scientific are sure to come on stream in the not-too-distant future. Trials on live construction sites are planned for as early as Q2 2019. Check it out…
The amount of rework due to incorrect setting out.
Early use of laser scanning laid down a marker to everyone involved in on-site installation. Reductions in rework was expected but reductions 73% of rework in comparison to a previous phase was unprecedented.
As a business,GagaMuller Groupare in a unique position in that we currently work with some of the world’s leading Data Centre Clients across EMEA and soon to include the US. We simply ensure that the Design and Construction phases of these projects is optimised. The cost implications for missing deadlines on projects of this magnitude are mind boggling. A lot of the projects that we are involved in are confidential so most of the ground-breaking work that we do happens behind closed doors. Our dedication to continuous improvement enables us to work closely with our clients in an advisory capacity early days to ensure that measurable KPIs are set out and ROIs are achieved by applying the lessons learned that we have built up through years of experience.