How Digital Engineering Improves Construction Project Performance
June 01, 2021
Schedule. Cost. Quality. Far from being mere static measures of project performance, there’s so much you can actually do with these to make them work for you through the entire life cycle of your projects. Traditional methods of collecting and tracking these three vital aspects often fall short, though, which is why more and more construction companies have been turning to digital engineering. In a nutshell, it’s digitizing existing processes — pre-build planning, ongoing management, construction and post-build maintenance — so you can more efficiently and intelligently capture and act on all the data associated with a project.
This could mean many positive effects for your construction company, particularly when you’re bidding and working on projects that are more substantial and more complex, and that incorporate technology-based building systems. In fact, integrating digital engineering into your processes could make you a lot more competitive when you and your clients see project performance results like these.
Significant reduction in clashes, change orders and costly rework
With the 3D virtualization of 2D blueprints and drawings using the building information modeling (BIM) process, you can “see” not only potential structural problems before they become clashes in real life, but also how material changes or design adjustments could affect costs, timelines and the environment before they become last-minute change orders. The welcome byproducts of this are the marked decline in schedule delays and overshot budgets, as well as an increase in quality outcomes that come from seeing — and fixing — before doing.
More accurate cost estimating and procurement
BIM stands out again as a digital engineering multitasker by delivering digitized quantity takeoffs that link each element to its associated data — quantity, cost, dimensions, required labor, equipment, etc. Using these details, BIM can automate many of the calculations necessary to produce a precise cost estimate, with fine-tuned quantities that make procurement equally as accurate when obtaining the right amount of materials, labor and equipment.
Want to do a “trial run” of what different materials would cost if you substituted them out? Or how much a design modification would affect the cost? BIM enables you to see the potential financial impact so you can make design decisions based on whether they fall within the established budget. Sure, you could do these calculations manually, but why risk making an error or wasting all that time?
Faster, safer completion of repetitive work via robotic technology
Capital projects require a lot of repetitive work — laying concrete blocks, painting large areas and loading flatbeds with heavy materials. Physically demanding work like this can be slow and create safety issues for craftspeople which can increase as fatigue sets in. Despite this, there are still milestones to reach. Companies are turning to robotic technology to supplement site crews by automating these manual tasks to help keep projects on track.
This digital engineering solution overcomes the inherent challenges of human labor. That translates into consistent productivity levels and safer conditions for your crews. To be sure, robotics won’t ever replace craftspeople. Rather crews will work alongside robotics to perform the more intricate manual tasks of their trade and will even provide new jobs for tech-savvy professionals who must program, inspect and service the robotic machines.
More thorough and timelier inspections
Think of all the routine quality walkthroughs, site inspections or surveying you’ve had to do that took an inordinate amount of time to complete, or were too hard to access or involved hazardous terrain, or could pose potential harm — such as tunnels, multistory structures or other areas where a hardhat isn’t going to do much good. You can instead use drone-mounted, high-res cameras to capture video or still shots that allow you to monitor job progress or do quality checks — safely, easily and quickly. Controlled from a computer, these small, agile creations can send that data back to the office via cloud technology. Inspections and mapping can be done in a fraction of the time, and with a level of accuracy you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.
Improved post-build maintenance and operations
Remember how we suggested using BIM way back in the beginning of the project for the takeoffs and estimate? It has relevance post-build, too. How? Because project performance also continues long after the contractor has “handed over the keys” to the owner. With the vast information stored in BIM, any repairs, regular maintenance and ongoing operations can draw on the wealth of data about every component involved in building the structure. Locating parts numbers, equipment and building systems’ life expectancy, and replacement costs is easier and more efficient. It can even be used for future renovations because all the details are already there for accurate cost estimating.
If your company is currently using just a couple of point solutions or you’ve yet to test the technology waters, now is a very good time to explore how digital engineering can bring out the true value of your data. InEight Model, created especially for the construction industry by construction professionals just like you, streamlines managing your data by capturing your latest details in real time in one place — a common data environment — even from multiple models. Request an InEight demo today.