Digital Project Management + More Collaboration Trends in the Building Industry

In a recent interview with Construction Dive, Sue Klawans, Senior Vice President and Director of Operational Excellence and Planning at Gilbane Building Company, reflected on the changes the AEC industry has experienced in the past decade. She recalls hand-sketching updates to projects on blueprints or scrap paper (which she’d then staple to the blueprints). When asked what her AEC peers using BIM would say about that practice today, she said: “They’d say it’s barbaric.” And she’s right.

But adopting BIM isn’t just about taking the information from blueprints (and anything that might be stapled to them) and putting them on a computer. BIM allows for cross-site and cross-team collaboration and real-time updates to ALL your project documentation. Here are 3 collaboration trends happening in the building and construction industry to keep an eye on this year.

Digital Project Management

In her interview with Construction Dive, Sue Klawans described BIM as “a tool that has removed the notion of hand-offs and wait times in construction management. It’s a tool causing us to have one coordinated conversation because we are all looking at the same thing at the same time.” With access to real-time data via mobile devices on job sites, the digital project information is no longer restricted to the office. Communication between different members of project teams (i.e. contractors, owners, architects and the construction team) can be streamlined when everyone has access to the current information.

There are a variety of apps and tools to manage different stages of projects, and even some, like Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform, that can span the entire lifecycle of any project.

Information Sharing with AR & VR

Using any one of the many AR and VR devices available today, digital information from design teams, inspection teams, or construction teams can be shared and visualized in unprecedented ways—allowing people across teams to make more informed decisions based on real-time data.

Parker Hannafin, a century-old, self-described “tech company,” has been piloting AR with Daqri Smart Helmets for inspection processes in industrial applications. With four Daqri helmets over the past two years, technicians at Parker have been able to overlay data from design teams and information collected by the machines they are inspecting.

Daqri and Autodesk partnered on a BIM360 integration with Mortenson Construction showing how the Smart Helmet, and AR in general, can transform the construction process.

Creating and Leveraging Connections with the “Competition”

At the end of last year, Construction Dive spent some time interviewing young professionals across all areas of the building and construction industry about their thoughts about the future of the industry. One major theme they found was the view of collaboration as a necessary tool. Charles Hendricks of The Gaines Group Architects said, “There’s a generation in leadership roles in the industry who don’t want to collaborate with other … firms. They see them as competition and hold their secrets tight.” Hendricks and many others in the next generation of industry leadership don’t agree with that view.

Creating tight-knit partnerships with other firms in the industry can improve each firm’s ability to work together on projects. But it’s important to look further than firms in other disciplines. Partnering with a firm that has traditionally been a direct competitor can open up the opportunity to work on larger projects and create collaborative relationships with firms you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with before.

Partnerships like these are possible now with the digital project management tools that are available today.

The goal driving these trends is clear: to have more transparent communication leading to less overall waste and more efficient projects.

Looking for more information about collaboration trends and how your team can implement them?

How is your team improving your collaboration processes to keep up with the industry? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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