Opinion

Traditional vs Digital Construction: the battle for digitalisation

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The construction industry is going through an unprecedented cultural shift, transforming to adopt more digital ways of working. Many companies have begun to implement digital tools and processes that align to Building Information Modelling (BIM) principles. A recent 2017 National BIM Report suggested there had been a 12% increase in BIM adoption within their respondents since the previous year, with most companies convinced of the benefits and 70% saying that BIM will help reduce costs and save time.

However, when so much is talked about the ‘potential’ of BIM we sometimes lose sight of the fact that digital construction can deliver huge benefits today throughout the supply chain, from increased profitability by working more efficiently, to making the workplace safer for everyone.

In my time visiting construction sites around Europe and the Middle East, 'traditional' working practices are the most common sight. Many companies still rely on the use of paper plans and tape measures, which are subject to individual interpretation and can often result in costly errors. While switching from decades-old and established manual practices may seem daunting, the benefits are clear - the shift is happening.

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For many it is seen as a risky juggling act to bring in new technology and workflows that bring benefit once established without compromising the delivery of projects today, but delaying the decision to change can be just as costly. By adopting a more digital mind-set we begin to connect people and processes; everyone will use up-to-date information, instead of falling into the trap of outdated instructions, plans and drawings.

In previous articles I have discussed the dangers posed by underground assets during construction, but by using digital detection tools projects are able to significantly minimise the risk and cost of damaging buried pipes and cables with the knowledge of their accurate location. These digital ways of working are helping companies to bring projects in on time and on budget today by making everyone involved more productive and eliminating mistakes.

The adoption of digital practices and tools is vastly improving project performance. Companies, particularly those involved in larger projects are becoming less reliant on out-dated, analogue practices. The industry now needs adoption to spread, everyone should strive to use and deliver digital data. This will ensure trace-ability, allowing for more informed planning and decisions on future projects. Ultimately, it improves client and contractor relations and raises the bar of what and will be achieved in construction.

'By aligning to BIM principles, the right information can be provided to the right people at the right time, enabling better and faster decision making.'

Increased efficiency, reduced costs and tighter schedules have long been challenging targets for the construction industry; however, by adopting some of these tools and processes businesses can start to become digital by default, bringing construction in line with more developed industries and fundamentally improving the way we build the world around us.

To find out how the adoption of digital practices and tools can improve project performance and win you more contracts, click here to download your free e-book

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Mark King

Mark King is BIM solutions manager for Leica Geosystems. Mark joined Leica Geosystems in 2014 and is focused on Leica's BIM Field Trip solutions that link the office and construction site through 3D data.

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