Discounting size and complexity, you would think building something would be a straightforward process. You start with a design, create a plan, choose and assemble the resources needed, build the asset, get paid, and go home. However, in the real world, nothing is simple.
What holds projects back?
Construction projects are often delayed for a variety of reasons. Supply chain problems, scope changes, design errors, communications problems, unforeseen risks, and build failures are just some of the obstacles encountered in projects. These problems are exacerbated by the industry’s continued reliance on paper or other outdated means to manage design, operational processes, supply chains, communications, and deliverables.
How can digital help?
Digital construction management, through Building Information Modeling (BIM) and a connected data environment, enables both broad and detailed views of all phases of a project, helping mitigate or avoid problems that can stall a project.
An important advantage of a complete digital construction process is its ability to be both predictive and reactive. In contrast with earlier digital forms, digital twinning through BIMs goes beyond simply speeding up analog processes to driving improvements in core project management practices, thereby reducing project delays.
The use of digital twins from the start identifies potential problems. Because twins are continuously updated during construction, problems can be captured early so they can be quickly remedied. And with the addition of time, costing, and quantities, digital twins can control every aspect of the project life cycle.
Beyond 3D: Exploring 4D and 5D BIM
Project visibility is a key factor in keeping schedules on track. However, gaining deep visibility through analog-based processes is cumbersome. 3D BIM helps speed project delivery through graphic representations of data that enable participants to walk through the construction process step-by-step during the design and planning phases, anticipating potential problems with design, building processes, workflow, safety, and other concerns.
The addition of 4D BIM incorporates the element of time to 3D models and facilitates seamless schedule planning and real time schedule adjustment. 4D information also enables optimized resource utilization and gives insight into how a project is progressing.
Moving to 5D BIM integrates costing and quantity generation to the design matrix. This aids in producing higher quality project estimates and can be used early on to explore how design and process choices will affect project costs. 5D utilization continues during actual construction, providing insight into predicted versus actual expenses, and instant understanding of the financial impact of project changes during the construction cycle.
Digital construction management also addresses a major hindrance to on-time project life delivery: communications. Because changes anywhere in a project are immediately reflected in every aspect of the project data, similar to the way a spreadsheet works, participants no longer have to rely on email, phone calls, or in-person conversations to stay abreast of occurrences that threaten forward movement on projects.
Toward a fully digital future
While firms increasingly understand the potential of digital construction management to help meet project schedules and objectives, they are often reluctant to commit to organization-wide adoption and cling to outdated processes and software tools that often do not work well with other stakeholders. The lack of a single source, connected data environment contributes to project missteps that can result in costly delays, reduced productivity, and even project failures.
Successful digital construction implementation includes:
- Ongoing Added Value – The value delivered should always exceed the investment from project to project.
- Reduced Complexity – Firms should only see improvements in their daily work routines without being aware of the technology that drives the transformation.
- Operational Efficiency – The digitization of any process must increase efficiencies without negatively impacting other areas of the operation.
Digital construction management offers, for the first time, a truly functional, single source of real-time information that can be accessed by all stakeholders in a project. These connected data environments will drive new partnerships and collaboration, improve construction workflows, shorten project life cycles, and lead to better outcomes.
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