A Construction Project has a lot of moving parts with a multitude of teams.
Digital construction management platforms are expected to disrupt the way construction projects are managed across the world. Though technology adoption is amongst the lowest in the construction industry - in the last 3-4 years, we have seen the adoption of BIM and other such tools by companies. COVID has further accelerated the adoption of such digital platforms.
This blog will detail how project management teams can use the 3RDi platform to simplify construction management and aid in completing projects on time and within budget.
Construction Productivity Gap
The Construction sector is one of the key economic sectors globally representing ~13 percent of global GDP & employing ~270 Mn people. However, the sector’s annual productivity growth is a meagre 1 percent for the past two decades. Time and cost overruns are the norm, and overall earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) are only around 5 percent despite the presence of significant risk in the industry. Construction productivity has been flat for decades, according to McKinsey research. In manufacturing, by contrast, productivity has nearly doubled over the same period, and continuous improvement has been the norm. s
Low productivity in construction can be attributed to a mix of internal and external challenges. External challenges include regulatory hurdles, slow approvals and issue of permits, restrictive labor rules, fragmented value chains etc. Internal challenges include issues such as large & delayed design changes, ineffective planning & scheduling, office-project site divide, low investment into technology, R&D etc. Construction
According to the FMI-Plangrid report, 35% of construction professionals time is spent on non-optimal activities. This represents close to 14 hours per week per each employee – which is spent looking for project data, conflict resolution and dealing with mistakes/reworks. These are problems that can be easily addressed by using technology – which could free up significant time of each individual which could then be spent on priority activities.
If construction-sector productivity were to catch up with that of the total economy—and it can—this would boost the sector’s value added by an estimated $1.6 trillion, adding about 2 percent to the global economy, or the equivalent of meeting about half of the world’s infrastructure need.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world will need to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to keep up with global GDP growth. This is a massive incentive for players in the construction industry to identify solutions to transform productivity and project delivery through new technologies and improved practices.
Future of Construction Management
The construction industry is ripe for disruption. The industry has not yet embraced new digital technologies that need up-front investment, even if the long-term benefits are significant. R&D spending in construction runs well behind that of other industries: less than 1 percent of revenues, versus 3.5 to 4.5 percent for the auto and aerospace sectors. This is also true for spending on information technology, which accounts for less than 1 percent of revenues for construction, even though a number of new software solutions have been developed for the industry.
Construction firms are starting to come around on tech adoption. Companies that are researching and implementing construction technology are reaping the rewards with increased productivity and higher profit margins. According to the 2019 JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report, Smartphones continue to lead the way in most used devices daily with 92.8% of construction companies using them, leading over laptops, tablets, and smartwatches. Companies are also spending more on R&D - there is a 6% increase in the number of companies that have at least one resource dedicated to research and development.
COVID-19 crisis looks set to accelerate an overdue transformation of the world’s largest ecosystem that started well before the crisis. While the construction technology industry is still filled with players offering point solutions or limited suites, it is clear that the industry is moving towards an integrated platform approach and it is predicted that a combination of multiple platforms will coexist in the space.
The construction industry has moved from first-generation construction management using excel, manual data capture, etc. to the second generation of construction management where we have seen certain/better technological adoption in the last 5-10 years.
However, they have only been able to provide piecemeal solutions whether it is in terms of moving from paper-based forms to a digital form, using BIM for design optimization - which is still at a very nascent stage across the globe barring some countries or using drones, cameras for capturing data related to construction progress which then needs to be manually processed and integrated into other systems for construction progress monitoring.
While companies are scouting technologies that would help them with the construction, they are also wary of the tsunami of solutions making big claims but delivering little substance.
On the contrary, 3RDi aims to create a unified platform that would enable construction managers and teams to access data, understand progress, and collaborate seamlessly.
Our AI-Powered digital twin platform would augment human decision making with machine-generated insights so that project managers don't waste their time on non-optimal activities and instead focus on critical tasks at hand. This along with providing an integrated platform for various teams to collaborate and access the single source of truth, will help improve the construction productivity thereby enabling teams to deliver projects on time and within budget.
Benefits - How Construction Managers Derive More from 3RDi
Moving from any-quality to quality data
Project teams on construction sites are tasked with capturing the daily progress along with images for sharing or presenting to the various stakeholders. Project execution efficiency is directly linked to the quality of data collected since execution decisions are based on the data procured and provided. Data consistency and reliability is an issue that the industry has been voicing for a long time.
Poor data would not only impact decision making but is also a waste of resources and time which could be used effectively for other tasks. Almost half of the project managers, out of 500 executives and managers surveyed by TrackVia, mentioned that data is still captured manually on Jobsites. Manual data collection is not scalable and neither is it reliable - with erroneous, missing data being a norm. Further, data collected manually has to be collated and processed by the back office team. This entire manual data capture process is time-consuming which otherwise could be spent on critical activities to further construction progress.
Better data collection and analysis gives all the required insights into execution for project managers to take the required decisions. 3RDi uses Drones, helmet-mounted cameras, sensors to automate data capture. Not only is data now captured 10X faster, but the accuracy and depth of data are much higher. The platform automatically collates and processes the data and can be accessed easily on a desktop or mobile device. Data collected is also highly accurate - exterior data is accurate to a centimeter level accuracy and interior data to a sub-centimeter level (0.3-0.5 Cm).
Construction managers would have invariably spent time searching for a specific picture of a project component at a point in time, spending hours looking for it and sometimes failing to find it at all. The current form of picture sharing is mostly through mediums like WhatsApp, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. which are not built for the construction management requirement. These pictures then need to be indexed and saved into an elaborate mage of folders for retrieving later. This is hugely time-consuming and often not productive. However, even with all the manual effort to index the picture and store in a methodical fashion, it still doesn't tell you what's in that photo.
Using 3RDi, construction managers need not worry about cataloging and retrieving the images. All the captures are processed by the platform and stored on the cloud providing construction managers a 360-degree360 degree walk-through of the site which can be compared across the entire project timeline to compare a particular portion of the project across two different timelines at just a click of the mouse.
This visual documentation could also help in resolving any disputes with the vendors regarding the payments - as construction managers now have an irrefutable data across the project timeline that can clearly establish if a particular work is completed or not.
Such visual documentation would also aid in avoiding the destructive verification - when teams need to check how the previous tasks, elements were installed - they can now just go back a couple of weeks/months on the platform to see exactly how those elements are installed. Not only, would it reduce the costly destruction and rework, it also would mitigate the schedule impact of such reworks.
Get the data to work for you
A typical construction manager’s daily schedule would start with him trying to understand the reams of data and reports that are generated every day to track the project progress. Construction managers assimilate this data to paint a mental picture to visualize progress - they try to create a progress view of what would have happened on the field through these reports. Further, these reports are limited in their scope in terms of data analysis, data preparation, etc.
3RDi changes this to a more user-centric approach where the construction manager, when he accesses the project on 3RDi at the beginning of the week, would have all the progress data readily available in front of him depicted in a visual manner that allows him to understand the progress right to an individual element level. AI-engine would also show which of the elements are complete or on-schedule or lagging behind in a color coded way for easy understanding.
Construction managers now can focus on decision making and not worry about understanding or making sense of the data. All the insights that are required are generated in an easy to understand visual manner. As we like to say - Do not let the data work you, let the data work for you.
Further our product vision is to integrate other modules like material management, manpower management etc. that would help in assessing the materials consumption, manpower efficiency vis-à-vis project progress. These modules would provide additional insights and can be further integrated to give a complete oversight of the project management.
For example, using material management module, project managers can keep a track of materials on field, in-stores and when integrated with the client ERP systems would be able to analyze the indents placed for future material deliveries etc. This information can then be correlated with the current project progress and the work progress expected over the next couple of weeks / periods to identify gaps in material procurement and optimize indent placement. Similarly, it could highlight any issues with regards to manpower efficiency and help in optimizing manpower usage.
Maximize productive activities
As per the Plangrid - FMI report Construction Disconnected 2018
, about 35% of construction professionals’ time is spent on non-optimal activities. This amounts to about 14 hours lost per person each week, which could be spent on priority activities. This time is wasted on activities like searching for project information, conflict resolution and dealing with mistakes/rework.
Poor information-sharing is an under-reported issue, a construction worker spends on an average 4.9 hours a week looking for the information they need. Construction designs and requirements keep changing as the project advances, and teams on-site teams have to wait to get the data in hand before they initiate any work or start work without having the right specifications. Productivity suffers in both scenarios - resulting in idle time or reworks.
3RDi provides a unified platform for data sharing and all the teams - in the office and on site can access data, documents from the platform itself. You can now upload all your technical, contracts, manuals, plans and design documents. Further, document sharing and access control ensures that only relevant stakeholders can access the required information.
Construction management necessitates managing various tasks across the project, coordinating on the connected and follow-on tasks. It is a challenge for contractors to share the latest information across multiple subcontractors/vendors. Teams are not notified of task delays/completion - which might lead to other teams arriving before the earlier tasks are completed or not start on time when the earlier tasks are completed. Challenges with collaboration can lead to stressful working conditions, conflict on-site, and ultimately damage relationships between contractors, vendors and clients.
This is an easy to solve problem in this digital age and particularly with mobiles permeating to almost everyone, information can be shared instantaneously and the task management module built into the platform helps teams to align on the go. 3RDi also improves construction execution by updating construction sequences, and task management while keeping all stakeholders always informed. Information can also be shared through a slack-like communication module built into the platform so that teams are now informed in real-time.
Further, 3RDi provides context-based collaboration so that teams have a complete understanding of the issues/tasks before the necessary measures are initiated. Work initiation now need not wait for the concerned person to visit the site/location to assess the issues - clicking on the task takes you directly to the context on the digital twin. Data sharing, task collaboration is much easier and work completion is faster with 3RDi.
Reduces rework costs
Reworks are a major issue for construction managers that result in project cost escalations and schedule delays. Considering that the construction companies work on small margins, rework costs - which average ~10% of the project cost with direct costs of ~5% & the rest in indirect costs, could significantly eat into the profitability of the project/companies.
Apart from the costs, reworks can negatively impact productivity significantly (up to 300% as per a study by ECMweb) with a possibility that as much as 30% of all the work performed by construction companies could be reworks. This, in turn, can lead to project delays and cost overruns — and in almost all cases, this comes at the contractor’s expense.
Globally, rework costs are estimated to be about $538 Bn and are frequently understated. With projects getting increasingly complex - the challenge to reduce rework costs also increases. One of the major factors for rework is that the decision cycles in construction are quite long. From our interactions with various construction companies, it typically takes about a month for them to identify any defects that would result in rework. This delay in identifying often means that additional work would have progressed on top of the defects which would further increase the rework cost.
Identifying reworks early would significantly reduce the rework cost and also give project managers the scope to keep project execution on track. Defect identified early would not only save costs by preventing further work on top of the defect, it would also save the teams time which otherwise would need to be redone later. This reduction of defect & rework cycle to a week instead of a month or more could mean that the course corrections are not major and could be managed without throwing the schedules awry.
This was at the core of our product philosophy - that defect identification should be faster and automated so that the teams are alerted at the earliest. Reality capture data is used to create the digital twin of the asset which is then compared to the BIM model to identify errors/deviations that have crept into construction from the actual plan. These deviations are highlighted on the platform against the BIM and imagery for easy visualization. This automatic identification of errors provides an opportunity for construction managers to react and initiate corrective measures at an early stage, which would avoid the need for costly reworks at a later stage.
We have been able to reduce reworks costs by 50% with our customers because of the early defect identification. Construction companies now have greater control over project costs and schedules.
The Way Forward
We, at 3RDi, have seen construction businesses gain tremendous advantage after deployment of 3RDi on their construction sites. Moreover, this is just the beginning. Thanks to the SaaS / cloud powered approach of 3RDi, we are able to initiate projects at construction site within a few days, upgrade to new releases automatically, and initiate updates on a regular basis.
If you are interested in evaluating construction progress monitoring technology for your project, 3RDi offers a free demo of the platform and may also initiate a pilot on your project site based on your requirements. Please signup here
to initiate a demo request.