For decades, modern building and infrastructure projects have followed conventional project delivery practices. Initiated, designed, and constructed by the owner, architect, and builder respectively, the process can be elaborate, fragmented, and susceptible to inefficiencies that can cause delays, cost overruns, and insufficient knowledge transfer.
As new technologies rapidly capture architecture, engineering, and construction market share, the lines are blurring between project phases, responsibilities, disciplines, and business verticals. With so many opportunities and challenges to grapple with in such a short time, the industry is gearing up for an era of unprecedented change.
The Future of Project Delivery is Here
Innovation has transformed the industry in the form of new material explorations, manufacturing methods, digital survey solutions, 3D modeling software, construction techniques, and file-sharing apps. Technology is not only at the core of how these innovations were developed, but also has democratized access to knowledge, tools, and techniques. New techniques, tools, or processes, that would previously take years to test and successfully adopt in mainstream markets are now easily scalable and customizable.
As an architect, engineer, or contractor, you are at the helm of this era of change. Whether your projects are highly-complex, multi-year commitments or small-scale, shorter-term commissions, you’ll gain competitive advantage by harnessing these new developments.
A changing project landscape
Design-assist precasting is a contracting method developed by Gate Precast, a US-based architecture and structural precast producer, in response to calls for Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) by the AIA.
In design-assist projects, precast concrete engineers are invited to design conversations to help realize design vision. Being at the table early on in the process means they can offer insight and solutions, and even shorten coordination cycles by several weeks, rather than being included as an after-thought to troubleshoot costly post-design issues. This contracting philosophy prioritizes early collaboration between designers and engineers which in turn enables faster problem-solving and decision-making.
Gate won recognition for developing a unique use case of modular precast concrete in complex striations on the Perot Museum. In this example, an innovative project delivery method inspired a new type of contract that increased early collaboration and cooperation, enabling award-winning creative material use and realization of cost savings.
As emerging technologies and processes create their own cause-and-effect ripples of change, you’ll want to be equipped with the right tools to support a fast and flexible onramp to the right solution for your project.
Effective teams will prioritize partnerships
For design firms Corgan and Gensler, co-mingling was the best way to deliver the 1.2 million square foot Midfield Satellite Concourse at LAX. In this joint venture project, they committed to integrating their teams from the start. They used cloud collaboration tools, a common data repository, and a common worksharing plan to co-design on complex models at the same time.
Many times when multiple architectural firms associate, they look at how they will break work apart. In this case, we decided to co-mingle the team; all the way from the top management down to how we actually produce the document, we had members of each firm working side by side.”
—Brent Kelley, Aviation Principal, Corgan.
In the world-class project site of the future, collaboration will be a prerequisite for success. A changing project landscape will require the right skills, toolsets, and perspectives, which means diverse team members will be able to sit at the table no matter where they are physically located. It will be important to create a transparent and inclusive atmosphere where all stakeholders are equally interested, invested, and engaged in your project’s potential and impact.
A common data environment
A common data environment will become the foundation for successful project delivery. By removing common incompatibilities and inefficiencies caused by traditional tools like network servers, email, and VPNs, teams will be able to converge in cooperative, concurrent workflows, rather than competing or redundant ones.
Knowledge transfer and project management will become easy and intuitive because all data will live in the same project environment, with anytime access to its location in the cloud. Time and effort saved will make your projects more profitable and drive more successful outcomes.
High-fidelity data will meet high-performing teams in this dynamically collaborative workspace. Everyone will be empowered with the right tools to amplify design vision.
BIM will live in the cloud
From owner to building operations, all your project teams will have access to a centralized model in the cloud. Both team-wide and individual tasks will take place in this central model that serves as a single source of truth. It will help you maintain quality and momentum of work and ultimately eliminate disparate or disconnected drawings and model sets.
As teams come together in a common data environment, BIM collaboration will make project coordination effortless with these features:
- Team admins will have better project controls to protect against quality, intellectual property, or liability concerns.
- Any team member can view, access, and edit the central model if invited.
- Any team member can access permitted project data at any time, on a device-, file extension-, and OS-agnostic platform.
- Clashes in the model will be immediately identified and easily corrected with smart editing and collaboration tools.
- Changes can be easily detected and compared between versions to ensure uniform application across the model, significantly reducing rework.
- Construction contractors will be able to download actionable data from the central model to mobile devices on site in easy-to-view documents.
- Operations crews and occupants will continue to add to model data with their ongoing use of sensors and control APIs once the structure is in use.
- Building information will always live in the cloud, with an entire history of design intent, revisions, constructibility data, and user inputs all in one model.
Digitizing the construction site
In the future, transitioning from the design phase to construction phase will be seamless, controlled, and collaborative. Construction teams will be involved in design conversations from the start, not as an afterthought. Information will flow faster from drawing board to field, enabling your teams to do more in less time.
You won’t need to move data between apps or software, which is how information loss currently occurs. Field management, master scheduling, and production planning will build off of the central model in the common data environment, enabling real-time insights with actionable data.
You’ll be able to build an advanced digital construction management strategy that provides:
- Easy access to data in the field, via secure documentation containing the latest, most accurate updates.
- Clear outlines and responsibilities for all to see, leaving no ownership or risk ambiguities.
- Quick resolution of redline issues, which will cut costs and unnecessary timeline extensions.
- Capture of data trends, which will help predict and prepare for bottlenecks.
- Intelligent construction verification, ensuring consistent capture of construction progress to check it against the central model at all times.
Good analytics make better project insights
Common data environments and central models of the future will drive better insights, offering deep analytics on project data. The more advanced and demanding the project, the greater the need for a cohesive and discrete process.
Every action in the platform will be valuable data that can inform future steps. You’ll be able to quickly scale resources, using them only when required. As your activity in the cloud increases, insights and automation will kick in, driving efficiencies in design, construction, and maintenance decision-making.
You’ll be able to combine central model data with Internet of Things (IoT) data from sensors installed during construction for true lifecycle integration. This can help with energy consumption, environment control, waste management, retrofit and expansion projects, and other operational needs.
This vast array of hyper-digitized scanning, modeling, and construction software will remarkably alter our built environments. How structures will look, behave, and morph will be deeply influenced by the tools that produce them.
The future of project delivery is not so far away. It is already evolving to become a smart, highly collaborative, and self-learning system promising turnkey functionality to the industry. Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform for project delivery comes equipped with essential collaboration and mobile access capabilities across the project lifecycle, with key enhancements planned for the near future.