Construction is a complex process that often involves multiple stakeholders collaborating and coordinating a complex series of tasks in unpredictable conditions, under rigid deadlines. The majority of construction projects are unique, and strict limitations regarding how each stakeholder participates in the process make the risks involved difficult to foresee. Effective collaboration requires effective communication.
In construction, communication begins with building designs, and the quality of collaboration deteriorates as the level of detail in communicating project requirements decreases from one stakeholder to the next, creating unnecessary cost and waste. Advanced technologies, including BIM and wide format color CAD printing, provide platforms for effective project collaboration among stakeholders, yielding significant cost reduction opportunities in the form of cost control, greater productivity and profit. The early successes found in projects that leverage BIM and design-build processes reveal specific areas in which previously inadequate collaboration is a critical source of project waste and lost productivity.
Collaboration breaks down between stakeholders for a variety of reasons, but one of the leading causes appears to be inadequate design and construction documentation provided by architecture and engineering (AE) firms to general contractors for estimating and bidding on projects using the design-bid-build method. Construction projects managed through BIM and three-dimensional models improve collaboration largely because these methods require an increased level of detail to create useable design and construction documentation.
AE firms draft building designs to meet owners' conceptual project requirements, but these designs overlook the level of detail that general contractors require to determine the constructability of a project. General contractors typically enter the building project well after the project owner has approved the building designs. As a net result, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers generate a larger than necessary number of RFI's to better understand the designs and project requirements. To avoid excess risk, both subcontractors and general contractors tend to build in higher-than-necessary cost contingencies based on their perception of the project's complexity. This process generates the first level of waste, primarily from excessive contingency costs that are required to mitigate the risk of insufficient design details.
Discussions between business leaders and industry participants indicate that conceptual designs provide, at the most, approximately one-half of the level of detail required to actually determine whether it is feasible to build a structure.
Wide format color print technologies that can effectively solve the problems discussed above exist, but they are underutilized in the construction industry. How can AE firms be motivated to produce and provide better documentation for design-bid-build projects thus reducing costs for general contractors and owners? One potential solution to this problem is to develop a functional method for measuring the waste that poor documentation creates and the potential savings that higher-quality documentation and color CAD workflows can provide.
Architects, project managers, engineers, construction foremen, estimators, safety crews and others could be wasting time and money by not printing construction documents in color.
To build successfully, avoid costly bidding errors and construction rework it is important for general contractors and subcontractors to make sure that everyone is working off the latest document version.