Does the construction industry need a digital culture shift to survive?
The BIM mandate is the first in...
As of yesterday, all government-funded construction work must be undertaken using Building information Modelling (BIM).
The BIM mandate is the first in a series of major developments in the government’s Construction 2025 strategy. A key strand of which is to have an industry in the UK that is efficient and technologically advanced to meet the growing demands of a global construction market, that is forecast to grow by more than 70% in the next decade.
The construction news has been peppered with stories about construction companies achieving verification for Level 2 BIM design and construction. However, the changes required for a successful transition to BIM in practice go much deeper than simply adopting the software and achieving the accreditation.
Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud, a UK firm of 3D virtualisation specialists who have been working with international partners ARES and Nomitech on the government’s HS2 project, said: “The sector needs to embrace a culture shift in the way they work. The BIM journey is about future-proofing the sector via centralisation of people, processes and technology.
“Traditionally, BIM data resides on users’ workstations, making it difficult to secure and share with other collaborators in real time. Accessing BIM in the field to make a simple edit or analyse a change in real time is therefore impossible.
“This presents a challenge in a sector where 90% of the building and construction workforce is project-based and out on site. BIM files shared across design centres are not efficient, nor do they support real-time collaboration. Not only does this erode efficiency and push up costs, but it can also increase the risk of litigation challenges to a project.
“Remote access cloud technologies are about enabling project teams to beat these challenges. We’re bringing the tools together in a virtual way and then integrating the data so that everybody is working in a standard way and has all the information they need at their fingertips.”
Using its bespoke Virtual Project Office, Atlas Cloud is able to allow the real time sharing of data and also to integrate and deliver complex applications over Citrix. Logging into the cloud from any mobile or desktop device therefore means that workers can access and use BIM software while they are on the move.
Watson said: “Cloud based software allows the site worker, the home worker, the worker on the move, and the worker at the international office to connect to a virtual workspace from everywhere. It’s a strategic fit with the very nature of the work of the construction industry, where collaboration and communication are key.
“IT was once a central overhead for construction companies. But embracing cloud connectivity could allow firms to save money, working on cost-per-user basis, dependant on the number of people working on a project.
“Through our work with large construction clients and central government we’re increasingly seeing big projects work with their tier one suppliers so they can drive adoption quicker. The cloud allows that, as it is a major way of bringing the tools together. With same day deployment on new projects and real time design and development, our clients are reporting increases in productivity and fee income as project teams are able to be more productive with less resource. It’s about mobility, security and a standardised way of working, with scalable deployment that’s cost effective. It allows a project team to control versions, future-proofing for the next stage of development.”
Erica Kemp, commercial director at international environmental consultancy Ecus, said: “This has been a natural move for us as we continue to expand and the transition period has been much less challenging than anticipated thanks to the strength, experience and availability of the Atlas Cloud team. Ecus has benefited from a 20% increase in productivity as a result of moving to the Atlas Cloud.”
How could drones be used in the construction industry?
The use of drones and drone technology including artificial intelligence in several industries has become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s for security purposes or even a bit of fun, drones are a convenient way of monitoring situations from above. So, could this be beneficial to the construction industry? In short, yes, and here are some of the ways the industry can use them.
Whenever a construction project is complete, it’s always important to take images of it looking its best so that the project itself or even a business can be promoted. With drones, the ability to record aerial footage and take photos from the sky adds a new dimension to displaying a construction project. A drone, provided it specced correctly, can capture video and photos in 4K HD from unique angles and provide an interesting perspective on a building project. A drone could be particularly useful to estate agents who are looking to show properties that they are trying to sell.
Occasionally surveyors need to laser scan parts of a building for planning and design reasons. This can be particularly challenging when trying to scan higher parts of a building due to not having a laser scanning tool that can reach. However, laser scanning capabilities in drones mean that they are able to capture things like the exact detail of topography and buildings while also having the ability to point cloud scan, which was previously difficult due to the restricted access of high points on buildings.
In construction, there are often times when a high level of risk is involved. This usually means have to complete certain tasks virtually. Drones can help workers do this through the use of their First Person View (FPV) technology. With this, a drone can stream HD footage to the project team and provide them with a live view of what it is seeing. This can be enhanced further with Virtual Reality (VR) glasses.
Activities on-site don’t always go as planned and if it’s a large site, it can especially difficult for managers and other interested personnel to determine the location of their workers, tools, and vehicles. Thanks to a drone’s ability to be operated remotely, they can provide managers with a birds-eye view of the whole site, as it flies around to each individual area. That way, they can gain a better understanding and awareness of exactly where everything is.
Drones, therefore, have many uses for the construction industry from security to locating specific tools or vehicles, to laser-scanning features, all in 4K HD video. Maybe drones will become the future of not just the construction industry but many others, too.