Digital technology is revolutionising many industries and construction is no different.
Construction management software is changing the industry for the better in a number of ways. It’s driving the changeover from cumbersome paper-based document management to cloud-based. It facilitates better planning to ensure fewer problems occur onsite and a smoother construction process for all stakeholders.
It’s also behind greater collaboration and transparency between stakeholders – between peers onsite and also up the chain of command. Construction software saves valuable time as it speeds up multiple aspects of a project, from inspections to snag lists to handovers. And once the final handover is complete, it helps make the successful operation of the building more efficient throughout its lifespan.
Firms who adopt construction management software quickly find that it helps solve a whole range of problems.
Construction management software has completely changed the way people interact on a building project. Now all stakeholders can be connected on the platform via their mobile devices.
This means important information can be instantly shared among all, in a secure and accountable fashion – which means there’ll be no more sharing work instructions or documents on insecure WhatsApp groups, or sending out emails that people may not be able to access onsite, or even printing out multiple sheets of paper.
“As projects get bigger, you end up with a massive paper burden, which a digital solution will remove,” says Zutec project manager Gemma Hawes. “The thing is for companies to remove themselves from using a paper-based system, to share information more easily, so there’s greater transparency in updating for all the players.”
This greater transparency can also have a motivating effect on teams and improve the quality and efficiency of the work – teams and individuals know they are accountable for every step of the work they do, and there is no longer the possibility of cutting corners or doing a sub-standard job and getting away with it.
With greater communication, transparency and accountability in the inspection process, the result is inspections are done better and faster, which in turn leads to safer and more efficient building sites.
Zutec Vice President of Solution Sales, Daniel Da Silva explains: “Traceability and transparency is a big problem in construction at the moment. On some sites, we see WhatsApp being used as one of the biggest forms of communication, which is going to be a disaster in construction. People are telling colleagues what to do, where to put things, how to finish things, by WhatsApp. That’s uncontrolled information.
“What we do is bring that communication around work and inspections into our ecosystem and make that transparent. We give ownership of all of that data to the people who are running the project. So that makes it a lot safer.
“You know that the work has been hired out, everything is signed off, everything is accounted for, and that there’s full traceability on a construction site.”
Using software such as business information modelling (BIM) in conjunction with mobile apps for inspections helps with better planning and sequentially on sites – meaning everything can be done in the sequence that is most efficient. For example, just-in-time delivery can be optimised, so sites are not cluttered with materials that are not needed until later in the job – meaning a safer environment for all.
Also, the fact that all the different functions in the software are housed in the same ecosystem means that when it comes to inspecting on the mobile apps, everyone is already comfortable with the software and there’s no extra training required.
Daniel DaSilva says: “We offer an inspections platform and when you’re combining that with a digital handover solution, when you’re combining that with a common data environment or drawing management, when housing all of that ecosystem in the one platform that then allows you to streamline. There’s less training required by all of the various parties, they don’t have to learn how to use two or three different systems.”
It can also be used to monitor all the health and safety inductions of new personnel coming onsite, meaning more compliance and fewer accidents.
One of the advantages of a digital handover is how it eases the transition to the operation phase of a building.
As the software tools have been used throughout the build – from the initial design through to the mechanical and structural side, down the chain to the sub-contractors working onsite – all the data that has been input live every day into the system is accumulated into a final package of information for handover.
This means every necessary piece of information, right down to the granular detail, is easily transferable to the client for use in the ongoing maintenance and operation of the building.
Zutec project manager Thomas Heery says: “We are creating data instead of creating a pile of documents. This data can then be used in the operation of the building by the facility managers, who can use all this information to properly run the building.”