It’s no secret that, the construction industry is struggling with efficiency. We recently referred to the UK market which at the moment faces the huge challenge of automatization. Of course, this isn’t just a British problem. It’s a significant issue that construction agents are battling against all over Europe.
Denmark is a very representative example. It’s a country that invests a lot of on construction projects which could considerably improve the everyday life of its people. Vast amounts of money and hours are used when building kindergartens, nursing homes, or roads. Often, it can be a relatively heavy process for the Municipality clients, to track and control what is happening on the construction sites.
Slagelse Municipality, which is located in the Zealand region (Sjælland), seems to have understood this struggle. It took a very smart decision by adopting construction software in order to keep track of the ongoing construction projects from an office chair in the town hall. Before we explain further the ways in which construction software helped the Slagelse Municipality, it would be a good idea to analyze the main challenges that the construction industry is facing.
The Major Struggles
It’s clear that construction projects have a lot of fuss. Denmark is no exception to that. For that reason, it would be necessary to summarize some of the most indispensable below:
First things first, miscommunication is one of the most crucial problems during a construction project. There simply are so many different aspects of a project that have to be taken into consideration. As a result, information and updates are many times arriving late to project managers and decision-makers. This leads to painful delays or mistakes during the building process.
Data are one of the main pillars of every construction project. Unfortunately, our industry appears to face a huge problem when it comes both to collect and manage these data efficiently. Not being able to gather and read data properly signifies that decision-makers are not able to jump into safe conclusions and build the foundations around which the project can be established.
A natural outcome of all these is project delays. The lack of data and proper communication can hinder the progression of the project. The UK construction case is striking, as 60% of the projects are facing serious problems with delays. Denmark faces similar problems, of course, too.
Project delays mean more time and more resources required for a project to get done. This chaotic situation has a severe impact on the available budget. Budget deficits can dramatically harm the whole construction process, given the fact that they undermine the quality of the project.
The Danish Revelation
By now, it becomes apparent that the construction industry is under an urgent need for change. The adoption of a trustworthy digital tool, like Geniebelt, appears to be the safest way forward. The Slagelse Municipality took this crucial step and six months later seems to be very pleased with its choice.
“The digital tool, GenieBelt, has been a huge success”, says Henrik Sørensen, department manager of the contractor consulting services, at DanskeKommuner.dk .
Everyone involved in the project is now able to monitor the construction process much easier and most importantly in real-time. This allows for a more efficient management of the building procedure and a significant decrease of any potential mistakes.
As Henrik Sørensen notices at DanskeKommuner.dk:
‘‘We can sit and track what is actually going on, out there. It provides transparency, and you can’t – as in a regular construction project – hide and blame someone else, if anything goes wrong. From what the workers have reported, we can immediately see if, or what problems there are. And if they have been handled’’.
Of course, this big change didn’t come with no complaints at all. In the beginning, there were workers who were skeptical and not so open to changing the way they get their tasks done. Nevertheless, many of them changed their view as soon as they got used to the new way of working and after seeing that many colleagues of them, who were already using construction software, were satisfied.
Based on the feedback that the Municipality received by workers and contractors working on the projects, they were happy to see that the construction process had been considerably accelerated. This comes as a natural continuation of optimizing the management of the different tasks. The live updating has helped a lot toward that aspect.
“The quality assurance is at its best, and we have halved the time for documenting because we are able to document live, exactly what we’re working on. We can upload new drawings, add a status on progress, and take pictures with the phone, which directly gets shared with the Municipality and other contractors. That also means, better collaboration with other contractors”, says the chief fitter Dennis Blachmann in his talk with DanskeKommuner.dk.
Without doubt, simple unhindered communication appears to be one of the biggest benefits that comes from the use of construction software. The ability to address a serious problem, in real-time, empowers the connection between the construction site and the office. Slagelse Municipality has done a great investment which can only return more benefits if the general shift to automatization continues.
Why Construction Software Can Help You
Construction software already is an essential part of the building process. However, it hasn’t managed yet to get all the attention that it deserves. This is, to great extent, due to the fact that many construction agents don’t understand its true value.
The words of GenieBelt’s CEO, Ulrik Branner, are very enlightening: “The construction industry is affected by expensive delays, low employee productivity, and bad communication, so there is a great demand for more effective digital solutions. If a Municipality, like our commercial customers, can save a small percentage on this, it can lead to large savings that can be used for other good things’’.
With that in mind, we consider that it would be extremely crucial to analyze the various benefits that construction software can provide:
In the previous paragraphs, we referred extensively to the issue of broken communication. This is where construction software can provide valuable help. Through the use of a well-functioning Gantt Chart, you can send and receive real-time updates about the project you are working on. In that way, you get into a position where you can exchange feedback and expertise with your collaborators in no time and optimize dramatically the construction procedure.
A physical continuity of the first remark is, with no doubt, unhindered collaboration. The ability to share all the information easy and quickly with every single agent of the project is fundamental. It helps a lot in establishing better collaboration between the various parties. Thanks to construction software, it’s now everybody’s business to look after any potential mistakes or delays and take action according to their assigned responsibilities.
In order for all the above to be achieved, you need an accurate and detailed overview of the project. In other words, you need tons of well-targeted data. Data are your biggest ally in your effort to keep a construction project under control. They allow you to acquire a better understanding of the current needs and to allocate your resources in an effective manner. A great example toward that direction has to do with weather-related data. They can help you avoid unpleasant situations and to schedule the upcoming tasks smartly.
Good scheduling is the result of efficient decision-making. Construction software can be the x-factor that will take project decision-making to a whole new level. Thanks to the vast amount of data that you can have at your disposal, many misfortunes can be both predicted and avoided. On top of that, construction software offers you the opportunity to keep track of the actual contribution of each team member. Based on this priceless piece of information, you can assign the right task to the right person.
Last but not least, the ability to store all the project information can be the key in cases where a dispute emerges. Construction is an industry with a lot of fuss and disagreements. For that reason, you want to make sure that you have taken all the necessary measures in order to prevent costly and time-consuming disputes. By documenting everything, you know immediately where to look for finding the answer to your problem.
It’s obvious, then, that digital tools have to offer a lot in our industry, if used correctly. Their unique value lies in simplifying yet optimizing the communication process. As Henrik Sørensen underlines while talking to Rudi Holm, “the most important thing for us, is not the economy. The value lies in the communication – the fact, that now we are communicating more instead of fighting each other”.
What The Future Brings
The imminent need for an optimized and more productive construction process will eventually lead to the complete digitalization of the industry. But this can’t happen within a night. It takes small yet decisive steps for our sector to reach there. The Slagelse Municipality is an excellent example. Henrik Sørensen interestingly mentions about it:
“We have decided to use the system in the contractor consulting services. But the next step, could be to give different parts of the administration, access to the data – for example, the planning department might have an interest in knowing what is happening. It could also be, that when building a kindergarten, the management and the parent organization, would like to see how things are getting along. Just as the politicians, who are on top of decisions, also could have an interest in following the results. So the idea is, that there needs to be transparency across the Municipality”.
At the moment, Slagelse is the only Danish Municipality that has chosen to work with a digital tool like GenieBelt. Nonetheless, the advent of new technologies in construction allows for predictions of further development. It’s hard to set a specific time-frame but it would be safe to claim that the change is approaching and that the Danish public sector is setting a remarkable example for European construction as a whole. This can easily be seen also in the UK where the BIM Level 2 mandate already is part of the game.
All in all, it is a fact that the construction industry is facing severe productivity issues. These problems mainly stem from faulty communication and the inability to collect and interpret project data properly. The use of construction software and other digital tools is emerging as the industry’s most valid hope in the effort to tackle all these inefficiencies. The transition to the new reality can be tough, due to the power of habit and the lack of training, but with hard work and dedication a brighter future for construction is closer than we think.