Traditionally, problem solving has been one of the key characteristics of construction employees. They need to take a pragmatic approach towards finding solutions because they are often faced with limited time and information, as there is no way of knowing if the information they have is up to date or correct. So, they have to do their best with the resources available. What if there is a better way?
How to digitalize a construction site
Digitalization of a construction site – or digital transformation in the construction industry – aims to answer this challenge: bringing the available information to all relevant stakeholders, so time could be better utilized executing work rather than solving issues.
In digitalization, gaining access to information directly from the source could be a chicken-or-egg situation. It is both a prerequisite for digitally transforming construction, and the goal of the process. No digitalization strategy will work unless it includes true connectivity to ensure smooth access to data and information.
In addition, work processes at any construction site can be re-engineered, and stakeholder experience can be reshaped, through digitally transforming the industry. This happens by allowing collection of data and relevant information from the source, with almost no gap in between the time when source information is updated and the time when it becomes available downstream in the work process.
This way, everyone working on a project has access to a single source of correct information, and no substantial difference exists between the perception of what is being built and the status of the project. This will free time for the workers on-site to execute their duties; as time on tools is increased, decision-making is improved, and no time is wasted redoing work or trying to locate necessary information.
Digitalizing Construction Execution: What does it really mean?
Below we list the three most common real-life use cases for digitalizing the construction site.
If a change happens during the design phase – as soon as it is approved – it will be digitally propagated to a construction team by either a change in the 3D model or a revision in the given engineering deliverables. All the design data is now recorded into databases, and the digital connectivity makes it available for the construction platform that receives the changes from engineering and design. The platform will then simultaneously provide an automatic notification of the change to all the relevant stakeholders. This way, corrective action can be taken instantaneously by the different teams affected by the change.
Let’s look at the supply chain. Let’s say an inspector visits a vendor location and realizes that the given equipment is not ready to be released for shipping as originally planned. This means that the forecasted delivery date changes, which forces a new ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) at site. In a digitalized environment, all these changes can be communicated via a mobile extension of a supply chain management system and communicated to the linked construction information platform within minutes instead of weeks. This will save time and costs, as well as make procurement information very reliable, while ensuring that the materials will arrive on-site at the right time.
The last use case deals with reviewing planning. If a change takes place on a project master schedule, construction stakeholders need to visually review the impact of the change on the current planned execution. Without a digitalized approach, this would typically take several hours, or even days! But in a digitalized construction environment, these types of changes can be immediately reflected in a 4D animation, giving real-time transparency to decision-making.
How to get started?
All the technology needed for construction site digitalization is already available and deployed by some of the leading companies in the industry. So, as it’s all there, you are ready to begin digitally transforming your construction sites. Contact us for a free demo, download our Integrated Construction Planning to Support Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) webinar, or visit our construction web page to learn how to get started.
Maurizio M. Granata, Business Development Executive for Hexagon PPM , focuses on Digital Transformation for Project Execution & Performance Management.