Connected Construction closes the gaps and creates transparency by providing an ecosystem for all stakeholders involved in the project lifecycle to access and share data, and work collaboratively toward a common end result says Trimble Solutions’ Paul Wallett
Throughout the history of modern construction, information irregularity has been behind delayed or over-budget construction projects. The causes of the problem are obvious: all significant building projects involve a complicated network of interdependent teams performing numerous procedures at the same time. Naturally, there will be gaps in the flow of precise and real-time data, resulting in mistakes or errors on the job site, necessitating rework or, in some cases, destruction and reconstruction.
Convenient and fool-proof way to address this information irregularity, that has been missing thus far, is finally changing. An attempt has been made to integrate and ‘connect’ all stakeholders, teams and individuals to a centralised software, by taking full advantage of widespread availability of high-speed mobile internet and affordable smartphones and tablets. This innovative approach to planning and execution of a project is called ‘Connected construction’.
Future of construction is connected
Connected construction is essentially the next step in the digitalisation of the construction industry. This digitalisation is not restricted to individual processes; rather, it connects and integrates them into a unified whole. Consider the following example to gain a better understanding: The structural engineering team makes some changes to the project’s 3D BIM model, and this change is immediately and automatically communicated to the fabricator, who can now update the machine to reflect the new requirements, or to the onsite supervisor’s mobile device, which now has access to the necessary adjustments for work onsite.
It is therefore safe to state that the ‘connected construction’ approach tends to eliminate the all-too-common silos in the construction industry, as it integrates and unifies people and processes involved in a project across all stages by utilising the most cutting-edge hardware, software, and services. In the end, it contributes to the creation of a single, absolute source of accurate and real-time information for everyone, allowing for data transparency and sharing. It also eliminates data duplication and rework, reduces the risk of miscommunication, and improves overall construction workflow efficiency.
Breaking the silos
The ability of a diverse group of project teams – architects, structural or civil engineers, contractors, fabricators, interior designers, and HVAC professionals – to collaborate and complete a project on time and on budget is critical for real estate or infrastructure developers. In fact, most of these teams operate in silos, completely unconnected from one another until a handover is required or an issue arises on site. In other words, any two teams participating have little to no coordination.
Data sharing between field and office when done manually, not only results in poor communication but also creates blocks that impede project efficiency and productivity. Industry experts have noted that the absence of standardised tools for data sharing is a major cause of miscommunication and rework in construction projects.
Another major issue for both project owners and teams is data visibility, in which one team does not have access to the data of another. Worse, nearly no one has complete project status information. Because many teams may require the same set of data, this circumstance frequently results in data duplication.
Also, having erroneous or obsolete data with one team – say, the contractor or fabricator – when the structural engineering team has already made changes to it can stymie project progress. These issues can be effectively addressed by using the right methodology of connected construction, which offers better data visibility and accuracy for all project stakeholders.
Embracing Connected Construction
Every transformation initiative must start with clear objectives that tie to larger company goals. This will ensure that the initiative receives the attention, support, and focus needed. The outcomes of Connected Construction become even more valuable when they align with larger strategic initiatives and economics within the company.
Connected Construction initiative needs more than a budget for technology; it needs top-down support and endorsement. Collaboration must become integral to company’s culture, focus, and execution. To ensure the transition momentum is maintained, it must be anchored in milestones and measured with clearly defined metrics. This way, you can track and communicate results, celebrate successes, and keep everyone focused for the long haul.
Data is invaluable in a Connected Construction ecosystem. Inventorying the data the company currently collects, quantifying its value and exploring new ways it can help the company make better and faster decisions is a prerequisite.
The construction industry has dealt with the same problems for decades now. Point solutions can make incremental improvements, but to make massive strides we need to address the disconnects between people, processes, and technology that exist today.
Connected Construction closes the gaps and creates transparency by providing an ecosystem for all stakeholders involved in the project lifecycle to access and share data, and work collaboratively toward a common end result.
From designers, architects, and engineers to general contractors, subcontractors, and building materials suppliers, when every stakeholder knows what decisions are being made, who is making them, and why, the results of those decisions are more positive, predictable, and profitable. Those advantages are difficult to overlook for the Middle East construction companies in the future and they must embrace the innovation called connected construction.