The gap between the office and the field is a major challenge on building projects. While the numbers vary from study to study, it’s fairly safe to estimate that each week the average construction professional spends about a third of their time:
- looking for project information;
- resolving conflicts;
- dealing with mistakes and delays.
Not only are these activities counterproductive to the project schedule, they cut into labor efficiency. Technology tools can help you close the office-field gap.
1. Eliminate Rework
A 2018 study found that over $500-billion was spent globally on rework that year alone.
Poor communication, inefficient coordination among teams and poor access to project information are major causes of rework costs in the US, which is estimated to be 5% of the cost of an average project. Add to this the indirect costs – delays for re-engineering, wasted materials, purchasing additional materials – and it’s obvious that it’s far better to do the job right the first time. You should be proactively searching for ways to avoid the problems that cause rework.
About half of rework is caused by:
- poor project data, including lack of timely and accurate documentation of field work;
- poor communication of instructions, including poor flow of information among all stakeholders;
- lack of coordination of ongoing work in the field, including outdated tools and workflows.
To address these challenges, you should develop best practices and discard poor workflows. That’s made easier by using automated processes, for instance a software tool to automatically track changes on drawings.
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Insights into work progress and error correction are crucial for improving efficiency and reducing delays and costs. Technology tools can automate issue detection, as-built documentation, quality and safety checklists, and digital records of job notes. Automation reduces manual processes, subjectivity and human error.
Improved site monitoring capabilities can be achieved using drone surveying, aerial imagery, onsite sensors, and IoT (the Internet of Things). Collecting the right data enables you to set clear performance standards and track progress to keep the project on schedule. Use your project data to develop key insights and drive decisions. Both Bluebeam Revu and Bluebeam Studio allow you to develop indepth data reports.
Besides assigning responsibility to achieve schedule deadlines, the same must be done immediately if work deviates from the plans. The most important thing is quickly finding the best solution to the problem and identifying who is contractually responsible to make it right (and pay for it).
There are important reasons to track errors and repairs, not the least of which are legal. But in the short-term, the bottom line is keeping the project on schedule and within budget. When an error occurs, you need to document the cause (worker or materials) and the solution. A complete description can memorialize the event for the record and for reference on future jobs, including photos for your report.
Be sure to document the action(s) taken to fix the issue. With a software solution like Bluebeam Revu, field observation photos can be captured as embedded markups.
Keeping the project on track involves getting the correct information to the field staff when they need it to eliminate confusion and misinterpretation. Everyone needs to be on the same page, especially when there’s an issue.
Be sure to communicate changes right away. This allows other teams to move ahead with the least amount of interruption. Coordinate with the contractor(s) fixing the problem. Then set a schedule and monitor it to ensure repairs are made in a timely manner. Keep responsible stakeholders accountable for fixing the issue on time.
6. Risk Assessment
Evaluate your job processes. If there are problems, ensure that every necessary step was taken to fix them properly. Also take time to provide recommendations for best practices to handle similar mistakes in the future.
You can try Bluebeam Revu for yourself with a full working version on a 30-day free trial. Take the opportunity to see firsthand how a digital process using Revu can transform your company’s workflows. When it’s time to convert that 30-day trial to a subscription or perpetual license, contact Applied Software and talk to a Bluebeam expert about your firm’s specific needs.