As we move into 2016, it is a time for many to pause and take note of what has transpired in the past year–what goals we accomplished, what growth we experienced, areas where we may have fallen short. It is also a time to start looking toward the coming year and contemplate aspirations for 2016.
What is connected collaboration?
Where did your BIM journey lead your company in 2015? Was this the year you introduced robotic layout to your organization, deployed laser scans as an everyday part of your workflow, or automated your document control? Are you a more effective company now than 12 months ago? Of course you are. If not, the long term success of your company is at risk. Each day we all place a heavy focus on deeper integration of technology into our companies to streamline our businesses and allow our people to be more effective.
You may have a more effective team, but what did you do in 2015 to help other members of the design and construction teams be more successful? How much time did you spend brainstorming ways to decrease the amount of work the architect, general contractor or other team members had to do? If you are like most, the answer would be, “little to none.” We tend to take a narrow view of productivity. It is human nature to focus internally and not externally. In many complex systems or activities, you cannot get the optimal result from the whole by optimizing the individual parts. Each part must be viewed as part of the larger system and how it interplays with the others. Sometimes improving the whole may require a disproportionate focus on a single part. I would argue that, for each of us to realize our highest potential, we need to consider the needs of others and at times even put those needs ahead of ours. I will share a few simple examples:
- Electronic Data–There is a great deal of data that is entered into software multiple times during the building process. Design engineers develop models that are not shared with specialty contractors. Specialty contractors re-develop these models and do not or cannot share data with their subcontractors. I acknowledge that a portion of this is driven by software compatibility, but more often this is driven by risk mitigation. Our industry needs to learn to work toward a common goal and share information. We must be willing to connect with others at deeper levels while maintaining an appropriate sense of protection. It is our responsibility as an industry to stop ignoring this need and define the rules of authorship, data ownership and data sharing.
- Field Tools–How often do you see one contractor leveraging robotic total station layout on a project while his counterpart is pulling chalk lines and tape measures for layout? With minimal effort the layout for all trades could be done with the robotic total station.
- Sequencing–BIM provides a set of tools that when allowed adequate time to execute and proper coordination with the construction schedules can significantly impact the overall project duration. Extending the concrete pour schedule by several hours could provide a team leveraging robotic layout the necessary time to embed conduits and hangers, set sleeves or place in-slab piping, reducing the number of people on site and man hours during the rough in phase.
Ultimately these inefficiencies and lack of cooperation cost our end users in time and money and contribute to our industry’s lack of productivity gains through the years.
How does collective collaboration help you save?
As we look forward to 2016, I challenge each of us to find ways to improve the lives of others around us as we execute our work, to incorporate evolving technologies into our workflows, and to improve the effectiveness of our design and construction partners and ultimately the value we provide the end user. Turn our heavy focus of risk mitigation and data sharing to creating value for others.
Ultimately BIM is simply a tool not unlike a pair of tin snips or hammer drill. For BIM to truly revolutionize our industry, we need to think more like partners in this process and less like individual design professionals, builders and contractors focusing only on our everyday tasks.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season and an impactful 2016.
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