The construction industry’s lukewarm reception towards technology is a challenge that is well documented, and one that has held the market back from its full potential over the last couple of decades. According to KPMG’s Global Construction Survey, where over 200 major project owners and contractors rated themselves on technology adoption, only 8% of these companies emerged as “cutting-edge visionaries”. By B.K. Chew, Product Marketing Associate Manager, FARO Technologies.
WHILE this minority group adeptly made use of various solutions such as project management information systems (PMIS), automated digital workflows, data and analytics, and Building Information Modelling (BIM), most others have remained conservative, choosing to rely on ‘tested and proven’ methods of project management. Often, companies cite lack of certainty in reaping the full benefits of new technology, vis-à-vis the costs and risks involved. For some others, it is the mere reluctance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone that hinders innovation.
Digitisation & BIM Implementation
That said, market observers believe that a new day is dawning for the industry, as companies increasingly recognize the positive impact that digital technology has on the full life cycle of a building, beyond its construction stages. Government bodies around the world have begun promoting and mandating the use of BIM2, in hopes of transforming industry practice, improving productivity levels, as well as boosting integration and collaboration across the construction value chain.
In essence, BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a project, which forms a reliable basis for decisions during the project’s life cycle—right from the conceptual stage through preliminary and detailed design phases, to construction and as-built (or maintenance and occupancy management) stages. This information can be shared with various project member groups on demand, providing greater transparency and traceability across stages. But perhaps most attractive of all, BIM implementation offers project owners tangible benefits such as shorter project timelines, less material wastage, and increased profitability.
An Easier Approach to QA/QC in Construction
Responding to the industry’s need for a simpler and better way to harness the capabilities of BIM, software developers today offer construction professionals the ability to continuously monitor a project with real-time comparisons against CAD designs. Project owners and contractors can now confidently manage all quality assurance and quality control processes on a single platform, throughout building and facility lifecycles.
The ability to ensure buildings and structures are constructed exactly to design specifications is of paramount importance to architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals. By comparing 3D scan data with design models at each stage, project owners can detect incorrect placements or missing features (e.g. walls, columns, beams, pipes) before it is too late. This reduces prolonged hours of manual validation to mere minutes, making construction QA/AC analysis a breeze.
Keeping projects on schedule and minimizing any wastage within a project are also high priorities for AEC professionals. While cost and schedule overruns are the norm in the construction sector, companies should not be resigned to accepting them. Today, it is possible to perform accurate measurements quickly and easily on key elements of a project, as frequently as is necessary. Contractors can routinely inspect construction work for adherence to building standards, whether for floor flatness/levelness, beam camber, or wall plumbness. In the grand scheme of things, these measurement tasks can help accelerate project schedules and reduce expensive scrap and rework.
Beyond performing quality checks on building structures, project owners will find BIM useful for liability documentation, risk mitigation, and quality prefabrication. Comprehensive software solutions are now even equipped to verify shifts and movements, displaying changes over time with 4D analysis. AEC professionals can monitor adjacent buildings during construction and evaluate any site deformation (measure movement or settling over time). Additionally, companies can project design templates for prefabricated parts and assemblies with the help of a laser projector, or position structural elements and prefabricated parts in real time using laser trackers or total stations.
Shaking the Reputation
Slowly but surely, the construction industry will make headway in shedding its image as one of the least digitized sectors. As various members of the AEC profession open up to technology adoption, equipment and software providers will offer even more solutions to meet the industry’s needs, so that what seems impossible today may quickly become tomorrow’s reality.