As the year winds down, I’ve started distilling lessons learned while simultaneously looking forward to what is just over the horizon in 2016. I’ve spent a good part of the last year and a half traveling throughout the US and abroad, talking to project leaders who look for specific technologies to improve business processes. Something that has emerged as a reoccurring theme is the need for tech to be both robust and simple. Coming from a tech perspective myself, I can say that this is the holy grail of product development…creating something that is powerfully configurable, yet easy to use.
If you’ve been following my blog for the last year, you’ll notice that I keep hitting on a particular theme: People, Process and Technology. The more conversations I’ve had, the more I see there is no silver bullet approach to solving the challenges within this complex industry. And part of this is because it is made up of three distinctive parts – design, build, operate. With specific needs and distinctly different business drivers, creating understanding between these three disciplines and pathways for information-sharing between them is a major challenge.
I recently sat down with two Architects-Turned-VDC-Process-Managers to discuss the ways in which they are leveraging technology to bring the value of BIM downstream. Ryan Lawrence and Jason Chappell presented Communicating Site Logistics & Phasing to the audience at BIMForum in San Diego. Their approach was interesting, not only because of the creative ways they leveraged multiple technologies to evolve work processes for Balfour Beatty, but also because of their backgrounds.
Coming from a design perspective, their aim is to aid the evolution of process workflow. According to Chappell, “Half of our education in architecture is really about layout, formatting, presenting work. Communication is all about presentation, right? How can I develop something that at a glance someone can pick up the information that I’m intending for them to pull out of it and take that out to the jobsite and use it? [...] How can they see that information very quickly and process it and leverage it that day on the jobsite?”
Lawrence adds, “You’re seeing a lot more people coming out of architectural schools and going to work for general contractors. [...] We’re actually going and presenting at universities, showing them alternatives of what they can do with an architectural degree. Even as a general contractor, [they’re] looking back to architectural schools seeing value in the things that they are learning and the skills that they can bring to the construction side.”
Lawrence and Chappell sat down with me to discuss what they’ve done to bring real change to site logistic planning. They identified the need for lightweight, easy-to-use plans that can easily be updated. Integrating images into live logistic plans for weekly updates, slip-sheeting new aerial images, and even overlaying info for safety, logistic, equipment placement are used as communication tools in day to day conversations.
As Chappell states, projects are all about communication. Providing accurate and clear information to those who need it, when they need it, is the goal. To ensure their success, they focus on leveraging technology to transform communication at each phase to make accurate information accessible to everyone.