Posts Tagged ‘construction contractors’

Turning BIM Models Into Buildings

December 13, 2010

I have written in the past about the various aspects of as-built construction and the construction process that can’t (and shouldn’t) be represented in a BIM model. While there are countless articles, blog posts and Tweets covering the wonders of BIM in the weeks and months leading up to construction, you never hear any stories about the experiences of the construction managers, consultants and project managers who interact with the model once construction begins.

I am curious to hear about the experiences of others who have ground-level knowledge from BIM projects.

  • How has BIM affected the number of RFI’s that you would normally expect for this type of project if it had been designed using traditional methodology?
  • Are there certain types of RFI’s that prevail despite the use of BIM?
  • What types of issues do you experience when updates to the BIM model become necessary?
  • Where do you see gaps when comparing the BIM model to As-Built conditions on your project?
  • What has surprised you (good and bad) about building to the BIM model?
  • Has BIM had an impact on your coordination or sequencing efforts?
  • How have you utilized the BIM model for regulatory compliance?
  • What will you differently on your next BIM project?
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Top 10 Tasks for Construction Superintendents

September 8, 2010
Stumbled upon this on the state of Washington Workforce Explorer site.  In reviewing this list, it occurred to me that jobsite photos and video should play a critical role in supporting most of these tasks. I have added comments next to each task (where appropriate) to specify the role that visual media can(should) play in performing the task.

If you’re not using photos in this manner, you should ask yourself why not.

Top 10 Tasks

  • Examine and inspect work progress, equipment, and construction sites to verify safety and to ensure that specifications are met. – Photos used to record progress and report conditions.
  • Read specifications such as blueprints to determine construction requirements and to plan procedures.
  • Estimate material and worker requirements to complete jobs. – Photo archives can provide visual references for similar jobs from the past.
  • Supervise, coordinate, and schedule the activities of construction or extractive workers. – Photos serve as a reference to confirm access, availability of materials and equipment.
  • Confer with managerial and technical personnel, other departments, and contractors in order to resolve problems and to coordinate activities. – Photos augment written and verbal communication and provide confirmation of resolution.
  • Coordinate work activities with other construction project activities. – As mentioned above, photos provide information on current site conditions.
  • Order or requisition materials and supplies. – Webcams and photos confirm receipt of materials, preventing over-ordering.
  • Locate, measure, and mark site locations and placement of structures and equipment, using measuring and marking equipment. – Photos used to augment measurements and markings.
  • Record information such as personnel, production, and operational data on specified forms and reports. – Photos augment written records and allow for forensic research of conditions not properly recorded.
  • Assign work to employees, based on material and worker requirements of specific jobs.

Flat Fee Construction: An Opportunity for Innovation

March 3, 2010

When you hear construction and The Great Recession in the same sentence, you wouldn’t expect it to be good news. But I read an article today in the Wall Street Journal that has me brimming with excitement over what the future holds for our industry.

Given a choice between going out of business or keeping their construction businesses alive, contractors are striking flat fee deals with banks to build/finish the houses of failed development projects.  Sure, the contractors quoted in the article mention that such contracts “help stop the bleeding” but how long would you expect any business to continue to work just for the sake of keeping the lights on? The strongest contractors will innovate in order to improve (create) their profits.

Where will the innovation come from? Well, I hope jobsite technology gets a good, hard look (OK, I’m biased). But you can’t predict these things. Maybe it’s more efficient use of materials or labor, new contract structures or creative insurance policies. Who knows? Every penny gained through innovation goes directly to the bottom line. Now’s the time to try things!

Given the large inventory of unfinished work in the now infamous markets of Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada, flat fee contracts with banks offer contractors a solid alternative to the bare-knuckled bidding wars that are taking place for government projects. Contractors in these markets can work in familiar territory to improve themselves.

What about you? What are your recession-inspired innovations?

Finding That Critical Project Photo

July 13, 2009

Imagine what it’s like to dig a hole in the sand at the beach. Hand over hand, you dig away and watch as the hole changes constantly with each shift in the sand. Whenever you see anything interesting in the hole (a sea shell, piece of sea glass, etc.) it’s covered over almost as quickly it’s uncovered.

kids-in-the-hole1-600x413

Essentially, this experience provides a summertime analogy for tracking the work on a construction site. No matter what your role on a jobsite, you depend on knowing the condition of your area of interest continuously over the course of the project. The advent of digital photography has made it possible to inexpensively record the physical condition of the project in extreme detail. Unfortunately, recording the digital images are the easy part. After shooting hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of jobsite photos, finding that critical construction image after the fact becomes the ultimate challenge. (Raise your hand if you have a hard drive choked with project photos that are organized by project and date.)

I would like to know what you, as a construction-related professional, do to extract meaningful data from your jobsite photos. Feel free to leave your comments  and exchange ideas with your fellow readers.

Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 2 (Inspection and Monitoring)

June 10, 2008

Workers assembling a 747 follow detailed process instructions that combine visual images and text to direct the installation of every component. Inspection is exhaustive (100% for critical systems.)

Process monitoring is comprehensive and accomplished in real time to enable rapid correction in order to minimize the amount of disassembly necessary to access the rework area (sound familiar construction folks?)

Again, the contrast in construction is obvious when it comes to inspection and monitoring. Inspection schedules often conflict with building schedules, often resulting in a lag that can lead to delays (as crews wait for inspectors to catch up,) multiple occurrences of the same defect or worse yet, potentially covering defective installations as time-crunched general contractors decide that they can’t wait for inspectors.

Building Envelope Defect-in-Progress

Monitoring (and data recording) in construction is haphazard. So much so, that if there is an indication that there are multiple instances of an error in construction, the only way to clear suspect installations is to physically inspect them. That is, if they’re not already buried in concrete.