Whether you’re a contractor, consultant or asset owner, global or local, digital information management offers proven benefits to projects and business, although many in the industry are still reluctant to embrace it. Here GroupBC looks at some of the challenges going digital can resolve including communication, construction information, data security and compliance
You are probably reading this article on your laptop, or tablet, or even mobile phone, so it might be difficult to comprehend that it’s still common practice for construction information to be handed over to the client on paper, usually in the form of a bundle of documents, or for those with large portfolios, shipping containers full of files. The client has to find room and safe storage for these valuable documents and be confident they contain all the required information to manage their asset.
If the construction information they require after handover hasn’t been clearly specified from the start, it can create complications later on that are usually time-consuming and expensive to rectify. Often, the facility manager will have to waste time tracking down vital historical information or, worst case scenario, carry out a new survey of the asset.
This, when technology is available now that would allow for instant handover of a fully commissioned digital asset.
Provided the right data needs have been communicated – and this is where involving those in facilities and operations at the earliest stage is vital – asset owners could wave goodbye to the days when a service engineer would turn up without the right parts or discover upon arrival that a ladder is required for access.
When clients are not involved at the earliest stages, it can affect relationships across the design and construction teams. According to the UK Construction KPIs Annual Report for 2018, many contractors expressed a fall in overall satisfaction rating of the construction information provided for the project by their client, with satisfaction levels decreasing by nearly 20% on larger projects.
The lack of interest from clients for more digital ways of working such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) are often cited in industry surveys as one of the reasons for the slow take-up, despite the majority of the savings widely recognised as being across the operation and maintenance phase of an asset.
While BIM is often used by designers to manage the models and is being pushed as business as usual by some of the more digitally ambitious T1 contractors and consultants, the many business benefits of BIM are often overlooked.
For instance, BIM improves collaboration across teams and can ensure consistency of information standards with document naming conventions and workflow management helping reduce the confusion and dissatisfaction later.
Many of our IT systems are designed for yesteryear, not for the amount of information we receive on a daily basis, be it point clouds, GIS data or large model files. Information is often exchanged informally, using file sharing providers such as DropBox, to get the job done, without thinking of future ramifications, be they litigation or data security.
The Golden Thread
In light of recommendations in the Hackitt report, which recognised that the complex compliance processes involved in construction usually fail due to poor record keeping, there is a greater focus on governance to ensure a “Golden Thread” of construction information. Systems need to be improved and processes enforced across all construction projects to ensure changes and key decisions are recorded across the whole lifecycle of an asset.
A common data environment (CDE) can provide the required “single source of truth” – a platform to collect, control and share the information, data and model. The majority of information generated on a project is internal production documentation relating to the design and construction phase – work in progress files, drawing renditions, RFIs, cost plans, emails, notes, etc, with only a small percentage being formal Information Deliverables that the client is interested in or exposed to.
It’s the uncontrolled internal documentation that often slows down a project, causing delays while people wait for information, or need to find the latest, approved version.
The CDE supports BIM level 2 workflows with information classified as Work In Progress, Shared, Published and Archived, controlling the information flow and ensuring it is available to the right people at the right time.
In this era when data breaches are common and even whole buildings are pirated, ensuring information is securely stored and managed within a private cloud CDE can provide an extra level of assurance for your clients, as well as the IT Department!
Progressing with the programme
GroupBC’s BC Enterprise CDE can also incorporate programme management and quality assurance modules, enabling you to track milestones via clear, visual dashboards and ensuring project deliverables meet industry or organisation standards by providing access to templates for every key step.
With increasing regulatory legislation, a CDE with such functionality can help you not only demonstrate compliance but also allow those managing programmes of work or multiple projects across an enterprise to make decisions quickly. Information and knowledge can be reused, creating best practice resources and saving time across similar projects
BIM provides the springboard to modern methods of construction and more. From standardisation of data vital for offsite manufacturing, harnessing data from drones and point clouds to enhanced planning and decision making through Augmented and Virtual Reality, as well as providing the basis for digital twins.
Ours is a competitive industry with tight margins and companies going into administration every week. Change is coming, so will you adapt to survive or stagnate and fail?
If you’re looking to move to digital information management contact GroupBC to discuss how we can help.
Tel: +44 (0)118 9028543
Please note: this is a commercial profile.