The way digital technologies are utilised can explain a great deal of the success of a building project. When applied comprehensively, digitalisation provides significant increase in efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. For instance, it has been studied that building information modelling (BIM) can boost processes allowing up to 15-25 percent cut in building costs. At HEAL, we scanned the most typical challenges where current technologies could be of great help to streamline building projects.
Seamless communication allows savings in time and costs
According to McKinsey, large building projects take typically 20 percent longer to complete than planned and may end up being even 80 percent over budget. Time and costs run hand in hand, and they are often influenced by the lack in communication transparency and efficiency. Poor communication is not only a challenge between external building industry players, but information sharing remains uncoordinated inside firm boundaries. Typical internal challenge is poorly organised communication between field and the office that easily results in misunderstandings or messages being cut off.
One reason for the building industry’s inefficiency is that management still heavily relies on paper documenting such as blueprints, drawings, supply-chain orders and reports. Obscure messages and mismanaged paperwork boost mistrust and cause disagreements between partners on matters such as progress and orders. Resolving the disputes is a waste of time and money, and in the worst-case scenario, may lead to expensive judicial proceedings.
Digital tools provide possibilities to seamlessly communicate about progress in real time both inside and outside the company. They allow automatic tracking and more transparent reviewing of project flows and schedules. For example, notifications that tell workers when previous phase is completed and the next can begin may be helpful for decreasing idle time and overcome problems caused by poor communication on changed schedules or delayed projects. Simple tracking of equipment may also offer significant reduction of idle time because searching for tools is one of the major reasons for loss of effective working time in building sites.
Automation to enhance quality control
Automated real-time tracking and control enabled by IoT allow detecting maintenance when needed and can prevent minor flaws escalating into costly issues. Digital tools have great potential to ease workers job by guiding them to make better decisions. The quality of work increases as tasks are done at the right time and mistakes are corrected early on or even fully eliminated. For instance, structure damage during construction can be diminished by smart scheduling that guides workers to give the surfaces enough time to dry before the following steps begin.
In the near future, investing in comprehensive, real-time guidance rather than just troubleshooting will most likely be ever more popular. Modern technologies already enable multi-sensory guides, such as augmented or virtual reality tools that help carrying out tasks in the right manner. When looking further ahead, it will surely be possible to provide virtual assistants that allow two-way communication and whose expertise can be utilised regardless of place and time.
Are you interested in learning more? Listen to this Stora Enso’s podcast to hear timber construction experts’ thoughts on digitalisation and building sustainability.
Aalto University, Solving the construction productivity puzzle with digital situation awareness, 2019
McKinsey, Imagining construction’s digital future, 2016
McKinsey, Navigating the digital future: The disruption of capital projects, 2017
Technia, How digitalization will change the construction industry, cited May 12th, 2020