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Archive for December 31st, 2013

Keeping score on the construction site of the future

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

In a session held at Autodesk University 2013, entitled “BuildX: Construction Site of the Future,” the future of building was explored by industry experts.

Senior vice president, Building Information Modeling, Amar Hanspal, said that construction employs the most number of people around the world (with the exception of health care). $7 trillion is tied up in the world of construction.

Iconic buildings are built in much the same way as they have always been built. Examples are the Empire State in 30s the Gherkin recently. They are labor intensive, and involve masses of  blueprints. “Over the last 80 years, the jobsite hasn’t changed dramatically,” said Hanspal. “We may talk about design and engineering changing, but the world of construction has more evolution to do.”

He added that the economists bash this industry a bit. “Every industry except construction has increased in productivity in the past fifty years.”

Construction companies are very pragmatic, yet they were the earliest adopters of cell phones, for people on jobsites. All GPS systems and location systems have been used in construction.

How does someone manage complex logistic in construction process?

Hannu Lindberg,Technology Manager, VPR Construction, talked on the topic, “Managing a Construction Supply Chain and Quality.”

“We’re seeing more schedules, and witnessing prefab and modular assemblies, which are becoming critical to projects,” said Lindberg.

This process is required to deliver product much earlier on, but also opens up possibilities to track these components much earlier on in the supply chain process.

Lindberg said “Lightspeed is too slow. We’ll have to go to right to ludicruous speed. We’re beginning to fabricate more products off site in order to make lead times. We want to install building blocks as they arrive onsite.”

Global sourcing materials are becoming global as well. “We have a process in place and have procurement lead time earlier in process. Parts are being brought from various parts of the world, preassembled in the factory, tagged with a barcode, put in storage, then delivered to the site.”

What if we integrated quality process into the process? Asks Lindberg. At the factory level QA inspections? “There is currently no transparency into that process from the perspective of the general contractor. If we build checkpoints for quality throughout the supply chain, starting at manufacturing level, with checking and enforcing this quality, the chances of poor quality showing up on jobsite is significantly lower.”

The system is still primarily paper-based. To improve communications between the subcontractors and the general contractor we can replace paper based systems with mobile, barcode scanners, and all the technology to simplify and improve the process.

(more…)

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