Royal BAM Group nv (BAM) is one of Europe’s most successful construction businesses, with over 20,000 employees working on projects around the globe, from the Antarctic to EMEA.
Digitization and better ways of working are an integral part of BAM’s corporate strategy. “Our goal is to progress from ‘Doing Things Better’ to ‘Doing Better Things’ to ‘Doing New Things’,” says Michael Murphy, Digital Construction Operations Manager, BAM Ireland.
In ‘doing new things’, BAM has turned their full attention towards enabling collaborative planning and co-creation with their customers through Artificial Intelligence (AI) in construction. Achieving this type of strategy does not happen overnight, rather, through a continued and deliberate effort of evolving the application of digital technology and data science for a lean construction environment.
BAM Ireland, an operating company of Royal BAM Group, partnered with Autodesk Construction Solutions to create and implement a technology strategy to optimize processes using data capture and analysis. In turn, BAM created safer jobsites and completed projects with higher quality and efficiency.
“Safer jobsites mean that more people go home safe to their families at the end of every work day; and while our focus is on technology, we have never lost the focus on the human element of construction,” says Simon Tritschler, Technical Deployment Specialist at BAM Ireland.
A Mindset for Harnessing the Power of Construction Technology
“We started our digital journey by creating a digital copy of our traditional paper processes. But to become fully digital is to look at our process in a different way,” says Tritschler. “The motto of ‘doing better’ is only a soundbite half committed if your technology strategy doesn’t consider how you are going to harness and use the data being produced from the technology you implement.”
In other words, it’s one thing to deploy technology and place tablets on jobsites, but BAM is now utilizing the massive amounts of data generated through technology for automated learning and benchmarking.
The team has also continued to ask themselves: how do we use technology to its fullest potential, harnessing the power of data to understand and address process gaps, and identify ways to do better for their business and clients?
“Build It Before We Build It”
One method for answering this question has been to completely reimagine the design and preconstruction phase for building, using the motto “build it before we build it.”
On projects, design clashes like a water pipe running through an HVAC duct or a concrete beam are a costly yet common problem. Using connected construction software, BAM has avoided such issues by collaborating with teams in a common environment.
By creating a single, shared view of all construction activities, dependencies, deadlines, and inquiries, teams are held accountable. The result: more transparency, increased accuracy and efficiency, and fewer change orders—all of which keep delays at bay.
“The whole principle of ‘getting it right the first time’ is the cornerstone of what we’re seeking to achieve at BAM and key to success,” says Murphy.
Controlling the Power of AI to Improve Safety and Quality on Site
BAM created a common environment powered by machine learning to manage and interpret project data for risk – quality and safety – analysis.
The process required collaboration, as site managers used mobile phones and tablets to review checklists and capture jobsite issues. Data was pulled in automatically to analyze and predict which issues carried the most risk. Priority issues were surfaced to the top of the dashboard via easy-to-understand visual alerts.
BAM standardized methods of capturing issues on the jobsite, to generate quality data. They also began to institutionalize reverse mentoring, pairing new workers with seasoned workers to exchange knowledge and help drive the adoption of new technology and processes.
“We’ve been training ourselves in digital processes,” explains Tritschler, who says tribal knowledge is an essential piece of change management. “It’s very much an agile approach; with each step, we become more mature.”
As implementation has extended across projects, the benefits have been immediate and clear, helping to drive adoption. For example, in one of BAM’s projects, several of the issues identified during quality inspections were observations of window joints that were missing waterproofing sealant. By consistent data capture, the team was able to classify these observations as water-penetration risk and highlighted them as high risk.
These types of automated insights are making it easier for team members to spend more time proactively addressing potential risks, rather than having reactive conversations and spending time shuffling information.
Efficiency Gains Through Digitization
Understanding data to interpret project risk was readily apparent to the firm. “We are not data scientists, we are builders. And like builders around the world, we want technology to be easy to use. Otherwise, we move on,” says Murphy.
Ease of use has been critical to the success of digitizing issue tracking and resolution. The company now uses the cross-project dashboard to improve management oversight across multiple complex projects, enabling communication about what is working well and where improvement is needed.
With a “30,000-foot view” of projects, BAM can flag the issues with the potential to cause the greatest pain. The improved visibility into their project data has given BAM more structured data that accurately reflects current project status and allows for greater analysis and scalability across all projects.
With its bold approach to embracing digitization and leveraging data for construction insight, BAM has dramatically improved data capture and digitized 95% of its process workflows. The return is multi-faceted:
- The company has freed up time, allowing 25% more time to focus on tasks and risk items, rather than ‘managing our traditional paper forest’.
- Enabled project teams to more clearly identify the subcontractors that are the greatest risk to the project’s success and act as required.
- Provided better data and insights to enable stronger decisions, leading to a 20% improvement in both quality and safety.
- Made for safer, happier work sites for all employees, improving productivity and morale.
“BAM has always been one of the leading contractors in Europe, but we knew that was not enough,” says Tritschler.
“If we want to be recognized as leaders, both by our peers and our clients, we need to always strive for better.”
Autodesk Construction Solutions gives BAM the visibility on risk and a higher degree of focus. With a better understanding of data, BAM can identify the problems and constraints that act as leading KPIs to identify hotspots, rather than relying on traditional construction intuition.
BAM is embracing the power of data to improve the future of construction by providing better outcomes for all.
Are you interested in learning how Autodesk Construction Solutions can help your company leverage the power of connected construction data? Learn more here.