Construction asset tracking is critical to mitigating risk, minimizing loss, and managing timelines. Any disruption in asset shipments, failures of delivery, or theft can lead to significant delays and cost overruns.
Traditionally, asset tracking throughout design and construction has been handled in spreadsheets and based on trusting the goodwill of vendors and partners. This approach can create gaps between what’s expected in the office and what happens in the field. Construction asset data is often lost, duplicated, or corrupted, and disputes can arise when records don’t match reality.
For leading construction firm EBC, Inc., this approach is unacceptable. EBC is a Canadian-based general contractor that focuses on creating value on large-scale, ambitious projects through collaboration and innovation across the building, mining, and infrastructure sectors. With a culture steeped in safety, expertise, teamwork, and integrity, their quest for continual improvement and growth through technology speaks to their success.
EBC uses BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud™ for construction data management to create a collaborative virtual environment where every member of a project team can access the right information at the right time.
Through BIM 360, EBC has successfully deployed a centralized construction assets management process that reduces project risk and improves project outcomes by connecting asset tracking and management from end to end throughout the project lifecycle. “With BIM 360, we can support the entire lifecycle,” says Philippe De Guise, Manager, BIM Corporate Services at EBC. “By continually tracking and managing assets and equipment in the platform, we can anticipate any issues that will arise during the project so we are successful in collaborating and supporting the information that will be transitioned or shared between the various stakeholders on a project.”
For example, on the University of Montreal – MIL Campus project, EBC used BIM 360 to track room delivery status. Depending on if a room was under construction, ready for inspection, inspected or delivered, rooms were color-coded on a floor layout, which made it simple for the project management team to track the evolution of the jobsite and adequately dispatch the right resources when needed.
Here are eight ways that asset and equipment tracking in BIM 360 delivers value for EBC and its customers.
1. Improves Planning
“Knowing when parts and equipment will be delivered leads to better planning,” says De Guise. “That’s a no-brainer. The minute that you have access to a tool that helps you do that, your logistics team wants to get their hands on it.”
With BIM 360, workflows are directly linked to better forecast and manage workers on the jobsite. Because it’s all integrated, it’s easy to see when specific equipment is planned for installation, so EBC can schedule the right amount of people to be on the jobsite to manage deliveries safely.
2. Decreases Risk
For De Guise, the concept of assets includes workforce, as well as equipment, supplies, materials, and components. EBC owns and manages a large inventory of equipment and employs substantial manpower, in addition to that often provided by partners and vendors.
BIM 360 enables EBC to plan the use of their owned and managed assets across multiple simultaneous projects to ensure the equipment is available on each job site when it is needed. This insight into materials reduces project risk and decreases the loss of equipment.
3. Respond Better to Delays
Disruption and delays are almost inevitable, especially on large, complex, and ambitious construction projects. BIM 360 Assets enables EBC to pivot quickly around delays caused by vendors, global disruptions, and partners.
The visibility and transparency provided by asset tracking in BIM 360 means that all project stakeholders can be involved in real-time decision-making in response to delayed materials and shipments, leading to more trust, collaboration, and better outcomes.
“When we’ve got a vendor or a subcontractor that’s not showing up at the jobsite on the expected date,” says De Guise, “We can just turn around and look at other vendors and other assets and get them onsite asap.”
4. Reduces Disputes
The fact that all asset and equipment tracking takes place digitally and in a transparent and collaborative environment means that there is a clean, clear documentation trail that anyone can access and understand.
As a result, fewer disputes arise, and those that do rarely go to court. For rare cases that may make it to litigation, the documentation makes a favorable outcome more likely.
5. Manage Vendor and Subcontractor Performance
Managing assets in BIM 360 helps EBC keep track of vendor and subcontractor performance. If a vendor frequently delays shipments or a subcontractor fails to show up with proper resources regularly, that becomes clear in the data and aids in making better decisions around who to hire in the future.
6. Builds Trust with Customers
“When customers can see how much things cost, that creates a huge level of trust,” says De Guise. Asset tracking with BIM 360 provides transparency and enables clear discussions around the cost of materials, labor, and the reasons for any timeline disruptions. This transparency leads to better relations and better outcomes.
7. Enables QR Codes for Equipment Tracking
“We’re starting to use QR codes to keep track of the movement of people, equipment, and materials around the jobsite and beyond,” says De Guise. “So if you’ve got a dump truck that’s coming to a jobsite and taking a full load of contaminated earth to another site to be decontaminated, we can easily keep track of them and where they are going, and have confirmation that they get there. BIM 360 becomes the single source for that.”
QR codes or barcodes can also reduce risk and improve safety by helping safety officers keep track of people’s movement around the site in relation to the presence of machinery and other equipment.
8. Increases Flexibility to Respond to Change Requests, RFIs, and Issues
By managing construction assets in BIM 360, it becomes easier to quickly and flexibly respond to owner change requests, RFIs, and issues. Knowing where materials are and what else would be needed in the event of a change enables faster quoting and response to change requests. The same is true for responding to RFIs and addressing issues as they arise.
The ability to track and manage assets and equipment from design through construction primes EBC for project handover. With a platform that simplifies information, owners can easily access project data for the long term management of an asset. This new method of reporting not only creates greater trust between EBC and owners, but with their subcontractors and vendors as well, leading to more business.