For many years now, the construction industry has been on a steady journey towards digital transformation. Even in the last year, the pace of change has accelerated and we’ve seen teams rapidly move away from siloed and analog ways of working to more connected, data driven processes.
Still, the complexity of multiple tools and point solutions has become overwhelming. Data shows that, on average, construction companies own roughly five construction applications that are often used simultaneously across multiple projects. While there’s nothing wrong with adopting new software, oftentimes the sheer amount of tools exacerbate the problems like miscommunication and inefficiency.
Not only that, the data being gathered through these point solutions often don’t make it to the closeout process. Research shows that 30% of project data captured during the build process is lost at closeout, so owners can’t take advantage of valuable project information that can be used to better run their facilities.
To solve these issues, it’s important to take a step back. Instead of adding more to your tech stack, what if you were able to integrate and utilize a single solution that connects people across teams, processes and workflows, and project phases?
As the industry continues to advance, connected construction will be more important than ever. Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of a connected construction platform — and how you can find the right one for your projects.
What is a Connected Construction Platform?
A construction platform sets the foundation for connected data, workflows, and teams. Instead of multiple point solutions, it brings all project data into one system, making it easier to analyze information, collaborate with team members, and make accurate forecasts and decisions. A connected construction platform supports both your company’s short-term project goals, as well as long-term business goals for success and growth in the future.
Additionally, a connected construction platform ensures that information flows across the entire project lifecycle so teams, processes, and information are integrated from the very earliest design stages through closeout and operations.
How Do Teams Benefit from a Construction Platform?
But a platform is only half the story — it’s truly about how the people on your team are using and benefiting from it. Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of a connected construction platform, let’s explore the benefits of adopting one.
Companies waste a tremendous amount of time and money fixing problems caused by data loss, delays, and miscommunication. Since connected construction keeps everyone on the same page, these issues are greatly reduced and construction pros can focus on getting meaningful work done.
As Zachery Hamilton, Associate Estimator at Oliver Mechanical Inc. puts it, “Connected workflows will help eliminate questions because information is easily accessible and communicated across teams. If all the stakeholders have the correct information, they are bound to be more successful as there will be less cause for rework and delays on projects.”
Michael Shurgalla, CADD Manager at Moffatt & Nichol, adds that connected construction solutions enable them to move faster and eliminate unnecessary expenses.
“Connected construction allows teams to identify and resolve issues promptly, which significantly impacts costs before they appear,” he says. “This also makes the approval process much cleaner resulting in less finger-pointing and rework since everyone has visibility into the data and knows where things are.”
Connected construction improves visibility into the many components of a construction project. It’s easy to view timelines, retrieve documents, and communicate with stakeholders.
All these benefits set up teams for success, which ultimately leads to higher quality output and favorable outcomes.
“Connected Construction means to me that everybody has their finger on the pulse. That we are all informed in real-time. That there is no disconnect between the accounting team and the project management team. It means that everybody is connected, says Amy Kozlowski, Project Manager at Herrero Builders.
“When you have everybody on the same interface there aren’t any uncertainties over what is the latest iteration; there are no missteps.”
A tightly integrated construction platform helps make jobsites safer. It enables team members to better plan and coordinate so they can orchestrate jobsite processes in a safer way. Connected construction also allows users to complete tasks faster, which means on-site labor can minimize the time spent on the jobsite.
And should any issues arise, a connected construction platform makes these things simple to track, allowing teams to learn and improve.
“Safety is the biggest priority at Barton Malow, and we want to ensure that it’s easy for our teams to contribute to improving safety by tracking issues or observations in one place. Autodesk Build is the tool that our teams need to easily contribute information to drive safer jobsites,” says Ted Jennings, Senior VDC Manager at Barton Malow.
Optimized Schedule Durations
With a connected construction platform, you have a better grip on your schedule and resources. As such, you can plan more efficiently and ensure that resources like labor and materials are allocated properly.
This saves time and increases productivity. As Clifton Cole, Virtual Design and Construction Director at the PENTA Building Group, says, “Connected construction will provide value in increased productivity across the board in every single person in every single team member from the design team, to the engineering team, to the construction team, to the owner.”
What’s more, a connected construction platform enables you to stay on track with your schedule so you can save time and reduce delays.
“Connected construction is really a one-stop shop for an entire project team. A single platform where people will be able to drop in and access whatever documentation would be required for their day-to-day tasks is just going to save everybody time,” says David Vrabel, Estimator at Herrero Builders.
Win More Business
When you use a connected construction platform to facilitate the bidding process, you centralize your data, ensure accuracy in your bids, and gain access to insights to help you pursue the right projects.
A connected construction solution also makes it easy to demonstrate an understanding of the client brief through visualization and communication tools, so clients can better see how contractors will tackle the project.
All of these benefits can help you win more business.
“The benefits associated with connected construction are having accurate information ready and available at any moment during the process for the client, the design team, and the construction team,” says Gilbert Garcia, VDC Engineer at Turner Construction. “Having the ability to adapt to unforeseen changes and have the information available in real-time helps deliver an efficient and quality project to the client.”
What Should You Look for in a Connected Construction Platform?
If you’re planning to adopt a connected construction platform, here are the top considerations to look into.
Common Data Environment
One of the most powerful elements of a connected construction platform is its common data environment (CDE) — a repository that centrally and securely houses all project data, including drawings, models, contracts, specifications, and more.
A CDE serves as a single source of truth that all stakeholders can rely on. It promotes stronger collaboration within teams and ensures that everyone is working from the same information.
A common data environment also keeps data from multiple project phases in one place, thus minimizing data loss and giving team members everything they need to operate, no matter where they are in the project.
Connected Phases and Workflows
In addition to integrating data and teams, your construction platform should also connect your project phases and workflows to minimize any data loss as the project progresses from one stage to the next. This should apply to design and construction all the way through turnover.
The quality of output and data in the early phase of the project (like design) greatly affects the work done during the construction stage. Our data scientists at Autodesk found that over 70% of RFIs could have been resolved in design review.
This is why having a connected construction platform that ties everything and everyone together is a must.
“What we are realizing is that one way to head off unexpected changes is to have a robust design review process,” says Manu Venugopal, who oversees Construction Data and Analytics for Autodesk Construction Cloud.
“Today, many GCs that I talk to have teams devoted to reviewing design documents and drawings, and identifying potential problems and solutions in a more collaborative environment.”
It’s also important to remember that project phases aren’t always linear. With numerous stakeholders involved, going back and forth often comes with the territory.
A connected construction platform can streamline this by empowering team members to effortlessly collaborate. The CDE ensures that everyone has reliable access to the data they need, and the integrations between workflows, apps, and phases pave the way for seamless and efficient processes.
Even the most powerful solution won’t yield results if the end users aren’t adopting the technology. In order for your connected construction platform to work, it needs to be simple and intuitive.
Folks on the construction site are there to do the work, and technology shouldn’t add complexity to that. Meanwhile, those at the office need a simple design for the field, because office users won’t get the data they need if no one inputs the information.
You’ll get more value out of the software when your teams are actively entering data into the system, so the tools required to do so must be simple to use.
Data is only as valuable as the insights you can derive from it. While it’s important for your platform to collect data, that’s just the first step. It should also help you extract actionable intelligence that you can use to identify, quantify, and mitigate risk.
Features like analytics and data visualization are important. It’s also ideal to have a system that uses automated machine learning and AI algorithms that can analyze data, as well as surface trends and risk factors even before they turn into major issues.
Experience the Value of a Connected Construction Platform
While the technical side of a solution is essential when choosing a connected construction platform, equally important is the relationship you have with the company behind all that shiny tech.
This is one of the things that sets Autodesk apart from other solution providers. We strive to cultivate long-lasting partnerships with construction firms and we’re constantly innovating alongside our clients.
Take a demo of Autodesk’s unified platform to discover how a truly connected construction can fuel your projects.