3 Areas to Consider When Investing in a Digital Engineering Solution
June 03, 2021
While digital engineering adoption is still in its infancy, construction companies are coming around to its promise of markedly improved time, cost and quality efficiencies across a project’s life cycle. Before jumping into this technology and its benefits, here are three areas you will benefit from discussing with your main project team to help drill down to what digital engineering solutions make the most sense for your business. Solutions can be wide-ranging, from cloud-connected software, building information modeling (BIM) and digital twins, to augmented reality, drones and robotics.
Identify your goals upfront
While all digital engineering solutions are meant to improve they do so in different ways using different technologies. Working with your team to answer questions that include the following can help you hone-in on what is right for your construction business.
- What challenges do you hope to overcome? Think of the entire life cycle of your projects — from design through to handoff. For example, it could be that you’re losing out on the kind of bids you want, or encountering design flaws resulting in change orders, or exceeding your estimates or seeing too many safety and injury issues.
- What processes do you anticipate will most benefit from specific digital engineering solutions? Consider this from the perspective of streamlining effort, shortening time on task, or automating manual activities and calculations, for example.
- Do your projects tend to be capital or infrastructure projects involving compliance requirements and/or public funding that you have to account for very closely?
- How have you been using your project data? Are you able to collect it in one place and apply it to other areas of your project?
- Do your projects often have complex requirements that you want to better track and manage for your client and your own peace of mind?
- Do the projects you work on have certain similarities in scope, practices or end use that make certain digital engineering solutions more logical than others?
- Are there mistakes or inefficiencies from past projects driving your interest in digitalizing certain processes? Think of any budget overruns resulting from inaccurate estimates that didn’t take risk factors into account, the incidence of avoidable schedule delays, the number and frequency of change orders, the amount of necessary rework especially just before completion, or liquidated damages claims. Beyond the extra costs and delays resulting from inefficient processes, consider the amount of time and effort that has gone into managing and resolving them. An effective solution is adopting robust software — for estimating, planning, scheduling and commissioning, for example — to replace the more long-drawn-out methods traditionally used in these processes.
- Do your projects involve a considerable amount of manually intensive tasks, especially physically demanding ones that may risk fatigue or injury? It could be painting broad areas, loading heavy or oversized materials, or bricklaying — activities often found in capital projects and other substantially large builds.
- Is your project team on board with incorporating digital engineering solutions into your processes? Some of them will likely be among the “power users” so their input about what is needed and what is unnecessary will be critical. They’re going to have opinions and firsthand experience about what the real process inefficiencies or construction challenges are that digital engineering solutions can remedy. So invite them to be part of the demos for the ones that make the cut on your short list to evaluate. You’ll be more likely to wind up with the right technologies for your projects.
Subcontractors and craftspeople tend to work short term on construction projects, requiring them to learn new processes and software very quickly to do their jobs. So, whatever digital engineering options you implement, it’s a ideal if they have a short learning curve and are intuitive enough to use even for those who may have little interaction with such technologies. Anything confusing or tedious will only frustrate users and send them back to the “old” ways, making that tech investment a waste.
Opt for cloud connectivity
The cloud lets you store endless amounts of data collected from all the connected technologies you use — from software to drones — that can then be viewed and acted on at any time, from anywhere — even the most distant remote project team member. Imagine what having access to the most up-to-date information in real time would mean for collaboration and the constant decisions that impact project progress and performance.
Digital engineering isn’t about adopting new technologies; it’s about streamlining your existing processes and making your project data work for you. Through InEight’s Model software solution, you can integrate all that rich data into a common data environment, connecting it to your models to make it work for you in real time by fine-tuning resource allocation, collaborating more effectively, reducing design flaws and repairs, and improving safety. We can show you how to incorporate this digital engineering product into your business practices, and also how it integrates with other solutions. Request a demo today.