As an owner who wants to stay competitive, it’s essential to continuously find ways to make your buildings more efficient and profitable. While the cost of construction represents just a fraction of the total cost of building ownership, the data gathered at this stage can help you better operate your properties, ultimately improving productivity over the long term.
This is why it’s critical to have strong visibility into the construction of your projects starting at the very earliest design stages. The higher your involvement in construction and the more data you have at handover, the sooner you can operate profitably. This benefit is compounded if you own a portfolio of buildings, such as a campus or chain of stores.
Connected Construction: Setting the Foundation for Successful Handover
A connected construction platform is one of the best ways to improve owner visibility and control. By integrating various workflows and tools, information can flow smoothly across systems and teams.
Connected construction helps ensure that all the information you need is kept in one place as the project progresses from one phase to the next. Plus, all stakeholders have a better handle on their data, which helps minimize risk, delays, and costs.
It also means that teams, processes, and information are connected throughout the entire project — from design and preconstruction to closeout — so you have everything you need to operate your facilities.
Let’s take a deeper look at how connected construction enables you to get what you want at handover.
1. Complete Data
Construction professionals have access to a lot of data. Research by FMI Corp found that the construction industry produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with extracting useful insights out of all that information. The vast majority of construction data — 95.5% according to FMI — goes unused. What’s more, research by Forrester indicates that even though 74% of companies want to be data-driven, just 29% are turning data into insights and actions.
The problem lies in the fact that construction data lives in disparate systems, so connecting the dots is an uphill battle. In addition, data inputs are often inconsistent, so owners can’t get the full picture of how their projects are doing.
Connected construction solves this by keeping all the necessary information in one place, which then helps to create handover packages that set up the building’s operations teams for success.
Glen Hines, Director of Building Information Modeling Systems at Prologis, can attest to this. Prior to adopting connected construction solutions, Glen says that Prologis struggled with getting right and most accurate information to their operations team, which made running the facilities more difficult.
“One of the challenges we face here at Prologis is that a lot of our departments request specific data points that could be very building specific,” said Glen.
So, Prologis focused on connecting their workflows and data and in doing so, the company’s visibility and operations drastically improved.
According to Glen, “With our new systems in place, we can provide that information faster such as the number of overhead doors, clear height, floor elevations and/or number of parking spaces etc. This is why we focused heavily on standardization so that information can be extracted easier and faster for those departments and because we can now get that information, it makes everything easier for all users through design, internal Prologis team members, construction, and going into operations.”
2. Better Project Insights
Forward-thinking owners are shifting from tracking lagging indicators to leading indicators as a way to gauge the performance of their projects and make more impactful decisions.
Unlike lagging indicators, which reveal information after an event or action takes place, leading indicators are predictive measures that can offer insights into future events.
A connected construction platform can surface leading indicators by providing a dashboard-level view of data and analytics. Many solutions provide data visualization tools to help you make sense out of the information and execute the necessary decisions quicker. In addition to a project-by-project basis, serial building owners want to see data about their entire campus or chain of stores on one view to identify potential risks or issues before they arise. A connected construction platform can provide owners an entire portfolio of all their capital projects in a single view.
This should also happen at the design level. Building operators are tasked with maintaining the building upon completion, so it makes sense to give them visibility into design and constructability.
That’s why it’s helpful to have a connected construction platform that has all project information in a common data environment. Building operators can use the system to conduct design reviews and point out constructability issues as well as begin building operations
In addition to design, connected construction can also give owners a better view of project financials, making it simple to manage budgets, adjust costs to align with the schedule, and leverage direct payment applications. These tedious tasks become more streamlined, so you can conduct accurate forecasts and optimize your budget schedule — which ultimately leads to a healthier bottom line.
During construction and closeout itself, data insights and dashboards can also be used to predict and track progress towards turnover — ensuring there are no missed requirements. This can help to better prepare owners to leverage final payment and retention monies during the closeout process when the time comes. Alternatively, owners have better insight to understand where teams need to focus to get the project delivered on time — or prepare liquidated damages for late delivery.
Lastly, higher visibility into leading indicators, design, and financials allows you to better track the progress of your projects. When all the data and documents you need are in one place (and that information is easy to find) tracking progress is much simpler and decision-making becomes faster and less contentious.
3. Enhanced Operational Insights
Most building costs occur during operations, and part of improving profitability lies in optimizing the efficiency of building management. As such, owners must equip operations teams with connected assets, real-time operating insights, and model data that shows the health of the building immediately upon handover.
Aside from helping operators manage and maintain the facilities, this data can also be used to identify opportunities for improvement that can be applied to ongoing capital programs and future projects.
Jeff Shaw, Principle Construction Lead at Chick-fil-A Corporate, talks about how he and his team use data and connected construction to maintain existing properties and improve future projects.
“When we build a store, we want it to last for 50 years; that’s the goal. So when we finish construction, we hand it over to a team that will maintain the facility over its lifetime,” explains Jeff.
According to him, the team tracks and uses data in a number of ways. One is by monitoring warranty items. “In the spirit of continuous improvement, we monitor how many warranty items are reported and what kind of warranty items they are seeing during normal operation,” he says.
Doing this is simple with the right construction platform. Connected construction software provides asset tracking features that can collect and store information like equipment serial numbers and warranty dates. And thanks to cloud-based technology, this step can be completed directly on the job site using a tablet or smartphone.
Aside from making asset tracking easier, all that data can help you determine how to further improve your construction projects.
At Chick-fil-A, for instance, Jeff says that they aggregate the warranty data they collected and take it back to the construction team.
“We then go back upstream all the way to the design source of truth and relay the data to make meaningful improvements so that we can serve our clients better and better over time,” he says.
“So for an example, let’s say in 2020, 12% of hypothetical warranty items reported in the first year are electrical in nature, and they have to do with breakers. Well, that’s pretty important data. How can we share that data with the design team so that they can look at it and figure out what the root issue is? That way, they can determine meaningful solutions to the root issue and continuously improve the design for the next wave of construction projects.”
“This feedback loop enables us to keep getting better each and every time we build something and to show care for the Superintendents that do such amazing work.”
The bottom line: operational data isn’t just helpful during just operations. It can also shed light on insights that can help owners improve their capital projects in the future.
4. Documentation On Demand
During project handover, one of the most important deliverables from your general contractor or construction manager is the turnover package. These are the compiled documents that are essential to operating and maintaining your building over the course of its lifetime.
Historically, these have been volumes of printed pages bound together or compiled in a binder. When delivered like this, turnover packages have a tendency to be lost, damaged easily, or incomplete. When issues arise and equipment breaks down, time spent searching for documentation is additional time lost, especially if that document wasn’t turned over from the builder to begin with.
Connected construction solutions offer a digital alternative to these traditional packages. Software can store documents as they are collected by the contractor against each requirement, thus allowing progress to be easily tracked and omissions to be identified far ahead of time.
Once all required documents are collected, digital compilation makes submitting draft turnover packages nearly instantaneous. Your operations teams can provide feedback on the packages, whether it be reorganization or requiring additional documents, before the building opens.
When your operations teams do finally receive their completed package, storage is as simple as uploading to the cloud, making it much easier to find in the event of emergency. And, as a digital PDF document, the table of contents can be internally hyperlinked to each page of the file. This means that your package won’t rely on an internet connection or an external folder structure to retrieve documents.
When something goes wrong in your building, every minute counts towards saving revenue. Digital turnover packages can save your operations teams precious time when they need it the most.
Start Finding Ways to Improve the Handover Process
Streamlining the handover process sets up your operations teams for success. Fortunately, this task doesn’t have to be difficult. By adopting connected construction software, you can improve handover for all of your stakeholders and ensure that your buildings are operated in the most efficient and profitable way possible.