The construction industry is unique in lagging. All other industries optimize their work and lower their costs while increasing quality – a typical example is the electronics industry where unit costs have continuously decreased while the value and quality have constantly increased. This revelation was brought forward by the International Journal of Business and Social Science, which showed how traditional practices had crippled the construction industry.
The owners end up suffering most, as they must pay more, wait more and go through many more difficulties than necessary. The study reveals that over 50% of a construction project is lost to waste. It means owners are paying for two buildings and are receiving one.
While many have blamed material costs and labor costs, the real reason is the shortage of integrated design methods and weak cooperation between project participants. This leaves room for a lot of rework, missed schedules, budget overruns, and unsafe working environments.
For instance, you can get a great design from a structural design firm, and professional design from a MEP engineering company. But when you are about to use them, design conflicts arise “positioning errors” where building components overlap each other when the original individual designer models are merged.
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Resolving design clashes is imperative for successful project performance, especially to prevent costly rework during the construction phase. However, this issue has been grossly overlooked.
Many companies specialize in a single vertical, which makes them top-notch and the go-to point in their industry. However, this is not sufficient anymore, as the provided designs are not necessarily aligned with what other parties have developed. Design clashes are the result of this separated structure, where a single point of responsibility is lacking.
Highly experienced engineers who have been more than 20 years in the industry are required to adequately detect and resolve clashes. Also, having a single responsible entity for several designs ensures there is an actual go-to point to resolve the conflicts. Otherwise, each engineer will blame the other party for clashes, and the owner has to take the hit.
Advancements in technology, such as BIM, have helped in coordination and clash detection. However, most BIM algorithms implement simple detection algorithms that only detect cases where two building components are spatially overlapping, in contact, or within a given distance. And that is insufficient.
The way construction projects are managed must change. Not only must the industry adopt modern technology and tools, but also the practices must evolve. Those who adapt to this change sooner will not only do a favor to their clients but also to themselves, as it will be their competitive edge in pricing, quality results, and honored milestones.
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