Building Project Teams for Operational Excellence

Is BIM Modeling a Significant Disruptive Technology?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAALQAAAAJGFlODAyYjNlLTg2ZWItNGRiOC04MDQxLTgwYmU0NGQ4YTA2OQ.pngA McKinsey Global Institute May 2013 reports that twelve disruptive technologies that will significantly impact the ability of individuals, established businesses and governments to increase productivity. See: Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy.

The AEC industry has only recently begun to investigate, understand and adopt digital technology to improve safety, quality and productivity. Digital Modeling of Buildings combined with Lean production thinking are beginning to have broad acceptance across the industry, an industry that has lagged well behind other non-farm industries in productivity. The adoption of digital tools requires process innovations that are redefining how buildings are designed, built and operated.

Building Information Models are a digital data repository for a project’s information. BIM has allowed us to all but eliminate paper documents on a construction site; minimize coordination of complex systems prior to being built in the field and most importantly, allow construction managers to collaborate and communicate with diverse workforce and supply chain, plan future work, and follow up with real time analysis of the schedule and costs on a daily basis. And perhaps most importantly and often not reported benefit the elimination Chaos resulting in lowering the stress of the managers and workers on a project.

Historically digital production planning was first applied to large manufacturing problems like cars or airplanes. These big expensive problems required expensive ERP like Oracle or SAP systems that only large organizations could afford. The auto manufactures realized benefits reducing the Concept to Production time from six years to four months. In the same thirty years the construction industry barely saw any gains in productivity compared to other non-farm manufacturing industries.

These ERP systems didn’t really work for the Building construction industry due to the fragmented nature of the supply chain and the fact that most projects are one-off customized to the uses of the building and the uniqueness of the site. But with mobile technology, cloud computing and Lean process thinking an organization can now manage complex production using these tools for little or no cost. This basically free and the formerly complex and collaboration allow project teams to operate as Clive Thompson describes in his recent book, “collaboration with a birthday party informality.” Clive Thompson – Smarter Than You Think

Is BIM Modeling a significant disruptive Technology?

Absolutely, and BIM will continue to inform project teams from the initial conceptual design and validation phases through commissioning and operation of a project. Wearable technology, the internet of Things ioT and artificial intelligence AI will all continue to have significant parts to play in adding Capacity to the future of building construction to individuals, established businesses and governments.

Here are my picks from the McKinsey list of the three categories that will continue to shape the future of BIM. These will all need access the Building Information Model and will have a significant impact on productivity gains in all AEC sectors from Design through Commissioning and Operation and Use.

Mobile Internet

In just a few years, Internet-enabled portable devices have gone from a luxury
for a few to a way of life for more than one billion people who own smartphones and tablets. In the United States, an estimated 30 percent of Web browsing and 40 percent of social media use are done on mobile devices; by 2015, wireless Web use is expected to exceed wired use. Ubiquitous connectivity and an explosive proliferation of apps are enabling users to go about their daily routines with new ways of knowing, perceiving, and even interacting with the physical world. The technology of the mobile Internet is evolving rapidly, with intuitive interfaces and new formats, including wearable devices. The mobile Internet also has applications across businesses and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity. In developing economies, the mobile Internet could bring billions of people into the connected world.

Automation of knowledge work

Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural user interfaces (e.g., voice recognition) are making it possible to automate many knowledge worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform. For instance, some computers can answer “unstructured” questions (i.e., those posed in ordinary language, rather than precisely written as software queries), so employees or customers without specialized training can get information on their own. This opens up possibilities for sweeping change in how knowledge work is organized and performed. Sophisticated analytics tools can be used to augment the talents of highly skilled employees, and as more knowledge worker tasks can be done by machine, it is also possible that some types of jobs could become fully automated.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things—embedding sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects to bring them into the connected world—is spreading rapidly. From monitoring the flow of products through a factory to measuring the moisture in a field of crops to tracking the flow of water through utility pipes, the Internetof Things allows businesses and public-sector organizations to manage assets, optimize performance, and create new business models. With remote monitoring, the Internet of Things also has great potential to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses and attack a major cause of rising health-care costs.

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