Managing Collaborative Building Information Modeling Onsite
There are two key drivers for managing BIM processes collaboratively onsite:
Firstly, for years contractors have had difficulty in turning designs into cost effective, high quality, build solutions. The reason for this is that a large part of the construction based on traditional construction processes that are time intensive, prone to inconsistency, inaccuracy, and risk of error when actually information needs to be accurately captured from the field and then used in to create as-built documentation.
Secondly, construction information traditionally delivered to onsite teams operating in silos, via paper-based communication that does not create the necessary collaborative environment between offsite design and onsite construction teams for development which is needed more and more today. Contractor teams can be frustrated at not having the right information at the right time nor in the right place to perform their work adequately and safely on site.
Consequently, there is a definite need for adopting new collaborative onsite methods within the industry for supply chain organizations to compete.
Harnessing the benefits of new collaborative design management solutions incorporating some or all of BIM, AR, VR and other data-driven technologies and aligned with modern methods of construction and off-site fabrication as needed, will cut waste, improve safety, enhance quality, drive productivity, and ultimately increase construction clients’ return on investment.
Benefits of Collaborative BIM Solutions
Traditional processes can be replaced by digital ones, through the use of collaborative platforms, standard data environments, and visualization-based tools.
Well understood that integrated systems using collaborative processes and data analysis techniques are more efficient than traditional approaches, achieving time and cost savings as well as reducing waste.
The information from Building Information Model (BIM) can be brought to the field, supported by Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to create new ways of working on site.
The use of collaborative BIM processes and tools provides many benefits:
- Comparing virtual building with actual construction
- Issue logging and tracking
- Mobile timekeeping
- Real-time cost coding
- Worker geolocation
- Data and spatial analysis
Challenges of Engaging With Collaborative BIM
Construction projects are relatively short term operations involving multi-disciplinary and even international teams with different levels of BIM maturity, knowledge of different collaborative BIM standards, processes and tool and, varying information-handling capabilities. While the benefits of collaborative BIM are significant, engaging with it does present challenges, brought about by the increased complexity and increased volumes of data associated with it.
Collaborative BIM processes can be complicated, particularly if volumes of data are involved, and there needs to be a solution for distributing managed information in a federated way so that that information can be accessible at anytime and anywhere on the site. Clear communication, understanding of standards and collaborative behaviors are essential from the outset to achieve successful outcomes. This behavior is no less critical in the field.
Increased volumes of data
The exponential increase of data brought about by collaborative BIM presents problems for those needing to use it on site. Information management tools now exist that can help manage not only the data generated from the location but also the information that large projects can create. Without these tools, it becomes a vicious circle, and the efforts of a collaborative workforce hampered, and errors occur.
For BIM to enable increased collaboration between onsite and offsite teams and meet the challenges associated with it during the construction phase, businesses need to consider the supporting structures, systems carefully and digital tools available to maximize their potential for efficiently meeting relevant international, national, regional and local construction standards.
New Ways of Working In The Field
New ways of working in the field are now established in many parts of the world, not only through prefabrication, the use of robotics, drones, sensors, and monitoring. This is not only through the use of new hardware and software solutions associated with such innovation but also through new forms of communication, stakeholder engagement, and collaborative human behaviors.
Mobile first cloud-based BIM apps on smartphones and tablets can be used on site to preview and markup construction information in multiple 2D and 3D formats, and so it facilitates efficient and agile digital collaboration and communication between stakeholders direct from the site.
AR technology used to improve construction work stages, as digital models can blend the real with virtual environments. Sites surveyed before excavation, for example, to locate buried utilities that present a risk. Defect data can be captured, tracked and resolved across a site or simultaneously across multiple sites, while construction is in progress, and reduce the possibility of error duplication, additional delay and cost it would entail – even before construction is complete.
VR technology can provide a connection between research and development. The reality of the site and can be used as a practical tool to improve collaboration, coordinate and program future activities, so that construction site phases can be visualized before work begins, allowing for changes and error prevention without additional costs or health and safety concerns.
Digital Transformation and Diversification of Workforces and Redevelopment of Construction Standards
The majority of the construction industry now recognizes and accepts the need for important health and safety, skills and training and the adoption of best practice, sustainable processes, and procedures. This is less well known that improved performance in these areas can improve ROI, customer perception, and competitive advantage.
The question now is how can the data-driven benchmarking approaches needed to support the step-change targets be achieved to allow the industry to thrive.
There are needs to facilitate the digital transformation and diversification of workforces and redevelopment of construction standards to bring collaborative BIM processes and technologies effectively on site in tandem with construction related software advances that will lead to 5-D BIM with project cost and schedule in addition to 3-D spatial design parameters.
Digital Transformation of Construction Workforce
The fact that the global construction industry is lacking skilled labor means that organizations need to “do more with less” and increase the breadth of their skills, including digital ones.
Field users such as project managers, subcontractors, and operators collaboratively have the potential to “change the way we build” through the adoption of collaborative BIM onsite processes and real-time mobile apps. By learning to use such digital processes and apps, they will directly and positively impact work and enhance change-order management, time and material tracking, dispatching, scheduling, productivity measurement and incident reporting.
With the new tech-savvy and highly mobile generation of graduates entering the AEC industry, and the use of mobile devices becoming increasingly common and available across the sector, now is the time to ensure digital tools and systems are in place to enable collaborative BIM in the office, onsite and in between the two. It is also the time to ensure the transfer of existing digital skills, even if gained through personal use, through tablets and smartphones and other devices, to be brought into productive use in the workplaces and onsite.
Diversification of Labor Force
Despite efforts to diversify construction workforces globally in recent years, across genders, members of ethnic minority groups and other groups such as the early career or senior sections of the workforce, these remain largely underrepresented.
Diversification is a strategic direction and cultural change that many construction firms are pursuing so that they can improve the performance of their companies. This improvement achieved in a myriad of ways: be it through partnerships with schools and colleges, membership and support of ethnic minority organizations or gender-related networks or through apprenticeship and training schemes.
Development of Construction Standards
Artistry standards can be improved through adequate training, appropriate instructions and clear checklists as well as through proper onsite supervision, monitoring and an ongoing process of feedback to ensure continuous improvement.
By linking standards to core company and industry issues and even taking steps to harmonize them across countries (download white papers BIM during the Construction Phase), hoping that future standards developed that assist and contribute to improved performance throughout the global built environment sector.
IndiaCADworks provides comprehensive Building Information Modeling service relevant to all project phases, including during the construction phase when BIM needs to be managed collaboratively onsite.