Why is Technology so important to Construction Management?

22May15

The construction industry is in the midst of a technology renaissance. BIM served as the initial catalyst for this period of innovation, but has now grown beyond “just BIM” to include innovations in many other areas such as mobility, laser scanning, and Big Data analytics among others. Supporting processes are changing as well. The construction industry is realizing that these new technologies don’t fit into previous processes.

The Promise of BIM

Before the advent of BIM, the construction industry generally worked in silos, where each member of a project team looked out solely for his or her own best interests
and the project took a backseat (or was in the trunk) to other priorities. Further compounding the isolation issue was the prevalence of the hard bid delivery method, which contractually and financially isolated team members from one another. Both the culture and this standoffish delivery method made for a litigious environment that was plagued with waste and cost overruns. According to the book The Commercial Real Estate Revolution: Nine Transforming Keys to Lowering Costs, Cutting Waste, and Driving Change in a Broken Industry (Wiley, 2009), by Rex Miller, Dean Strombom, Mark Iammarino, and Bill Black, the waste created by “simple efficiency and not-so- simple bad behavior” in the United States alone in 2007 was an estimated $500 billion. If we are to continue to function as a profession, we must ask ourselves, “Why should we ask construction consumers to pay for our mistakes?”

The promise of BIM is to build a structure virtually prior to physically constructing it. This allows project participants to design, analyze, sequence, and explore a project through a digital environment where it is far less expensive to make changes than in the field during construction, where changes are exponentially more costly. Today, this promise is becoming reality. An array of BIM software and mobile applications are delivering results that mitigate construction risk. Although some tools are more advanced than others, we are rarely at an impasse where some function is simply “impossible” and not able to be achieved through technology.

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