Top 5 Challenges in the AEC Digital Revolution

by | Jul 1, 2020 | All

The construction industry has long been behind other industries when it comes to truly embracing the digital age. While the global pandemic has certainly placed a brighter spotlight on the need for technology, the need for a digital revolution in the AEC industry was already increasing exponentially long before COVID.

Revizto recently completed a global survey with over 50 medium-to-large size firms to dive a bit more into this topic, focusing specifically on contractors. With that, we uncovered some of the biggest challenges that contractors are still facing today, as well as solutions that make their workflows more efficient and that keep their teams in sync no matter where they are. The answer to their frustrations? A need for truly integrated collaboration.

Here are our top 5 findings (specific to contractors):

Not Just Digital, but Automated Digital

While the majority of contractors feel that they are embracing the digital world, many are still stuck in the 2000’s. Yes, Excel is “digital,” but activities like entering data by hand to track and assign issues, manually sending reports for meeting minutes, and teams updating file types that are siloed off are not what we mean when we say digital.

When we say digital, we do not just mean working on a computer or tablet. We mean leveraging digital technology to support improved and more efficient workflows. Think of entering a clash into an Excel document to actually identifying the clash on the digital model, assigning it to a team member with a deadline, and auto-generating reports to drive the project forward.

Cross-Team Communication

On any project, there can be 10 or more teams that are working together on their own unique task. While these teams are all busy working on their specific job with their own timeline, it is often difficult for them to see the big picture. The plumbers are looking at one part of the model, while the concrete team is looking at another, and their files are disjointed. Major issues arise when changes are made to one model and not communicated to the other teams or reflected in their models.

Integrated collaboration (emphasis on integrated) allows for all these teams to truly work together. Team members on-site and in the office can communicate, edit, assign, and more, all from a centralized interface. No more constant emails or text messages for one team but another form of communication for another team.

One Model that Fits All

As previously mentioned, the number of different teams and stakeholders involved in a single project can be endless. On top of that, most of these teams are looking at different file types from 2D to 3D, an endless array of software files, and each trying to focus on their specific job. This gets tricky when one team needs to make a change, and that minor change needs to get reflected for all teams to see. Email, text, and voicemail are not just inefficient, but they also leave much room for error.

Within an integrated collaboration platform sit all files that communicate with one another. This single source of truth, or master document, is the key to truly integrated collaboration. This file is the key to not just identifying clashes but also making sure they are taken care of. This must take place before a team gets too far into the build process and costs the overall project time and money to undo something that should have been caught. Is a pipe hitting some duct? Identify that on a 2D sheet and let all the file types communicate so that all team members see that clash on their specific file. Additionally, that clash can be assigned to a trade partner and tracked automatically.

Better Buy-in on Tablet

Integrated collaboration across teams regarding topics like site conditions can save tens of thousands of dollars on a project. For instance, a foreman knows that you can get a 10’ spool to the roof on a man lift that could be free, but a 20’ spool needs a crane that can range up to 8-10 thousand dollars a day. But with iPad in-hand onsite, quick, real time communication can happen.

The learning curve can sometimes be very steep with software, and the list of ConTech solutions is becoming endless. By leveraging a single collaboration tool, more team members from all skill sets can leverage the same tool in a simple, user-friendly interface on an iPad. The learning curve for such software tools is much easier to pick up on an iPad. Getting more people up to speed in the digital age and gathering all relevant information in one place for everyone to collaborate can greatly improve overall project productivity.

Streamlined Accountability

In any given day, team members across trades are all working on their own project workflows. Traditionally, huge percentages of a project’s time include scheduled meetings for project updates throughout the day. One shoulder tap on a coordinator for 5 minutes could derail the entire afternoon. When done correctly, proper digital coordination can change all of that and truly bring automated real-time accountability to the project.

By having all project models in one place and having them communicate together, a Project Manager can add clashes, notes, and stamps across a project and instantly assign tasks to team members from the field to the office. Those coordinators can then complete tasks or instantly request support and not interfere with other members. Deadlines and completions are easily tracked and stored, and this type of data can be viewed to understand where bottlenecks are occurring in your productivity.

Revizto is a sponsor of MEP Force 2020, which will be held August 31 to September 2. Register today at: MEP Force Virtual Event.

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