Some sectors are better equipped than others to make the switch from physical to digital assets.
The migration of large amounts of data is itself a challenge, with many banks, for example, suffering system crashes when moving data from on-premise servers to the cloud.
For the construction sector, the switch tends to be directly from paper to cloud. In this case, the challenge is in the learning curve – changing behaviour and communicating the necessary skills for staff to get to grips with the software.
The Zutec platform meets this challenge with a user-friendly, intuitive interface. Once this has been mastered, the tangible benefits reveal themselves in the form of faster delivery, greater visibility, and essential features such as BIM integration.
For stakeholders to engage with a new digital platform, it has to behave in a way that is consistent with software and apps they are already familiar with. It also has to be accessible to those who have little or no exposure to digital technology. If users cannot quickly learn how to navigate the platform, they will be not only be slow to see its benefits, but may also come to distrust its potential.
The Zutec platform meets these criteria with a solution built on the following foundations:
The strength of a cloud-based solution is that users can be added, removed or re-assigned throughout the life cycle of the project. For example, external consultants can access documents quickly and easily through the portal, whereas in the past they would have required physical access to huge volumes of documentation.
Likewise, the owner can consult important compliance and certification reports before they take control of the building, saving time and boosting satisfaction on both sides. Bearing in mind that even a small construction project generates a large ‘paper trail’, a cloud-based digital solution eliminates bottlenecks and delays in reviewing information by presenting the right information to the relevant people in real time.
Whereas most businesses have a finite amount of space that can be allocated to physical archives, cloud storage is effectively limitless. Instead of archiving stacks of folders and rolls of design blueprints at the end of a project, the business can clear space and repurpose it for something that generates revenue.
Digital handover can also reap benefits during a project. One of the biggest challenges for the contractor is keeping track of all the information packages that are generated.
At the beginning of construction, for example, subcontractors might be brought in for piling or laying slabs. By the time the handover deadline approaches, the main contractor will not want to be chasing their documentation, not least because they will have left the site months before.
With a digital handover, the main contractor can capture information as teams come on and off site, by sending out notifications, updating status and reviewing or approving documents on a rolling basis.
Since 2016, fully collaborative 3D building information modelling (BIM) up to Level 2 is “a minimum requirement” on all centrally procured public projects in the UK. Level 2 demands the creation of a managed 3D environment with data attached, each created in separate discipline models.
The submission of separate models from clients, architects, engineers, suppliers and subcontractors does not simply lend itself to a digital handover solution – it demands one. Without the collaboration tools that a digital solution offers, it would be prohibitively complicated and expensive to bring so many models together in a single repository.
Contractors may argue that adopting BIM adds significant cost to each project, but a fully integrated digital solution can recoup much of the initial investment by eliminating delay, duplication, and the inefficiency of consolidating data.