Trimble Viewpoint: scrap the construction silos

The team at Trimble Viewpoint believe the industry needs to scrap the construction silos, because truly connected construction is possible through technology.

Over the years project management and project management software for construction has evolved in massive ways. Many of the tools and methods we use today have been tried and tested over centuries, but much has changed in ways our predecessors could never have imagined.

As technology has advanced so have the ways in which we plan, construct and develop everything from bridges, schools to skyscrapers, hospitals and everything in between. It’s an industry that is constantly innovating and if you want to stay at the top of the pile you need to be prepared to move with the rapidly changing times.

As construction and technology both become more advanced the traditional siloed approach to managing construction projects becomes problematic. This perspective can lead to real problems in the efficiency of a project which could cause irreparable damage both to the project and a company’s brand. Instead, today’s modern construction projects need a connected, real-time construction management experience. This allows the data, workflows and complexities of projects to be easily shared, analysed, discussed, communicated and understood, and result in meaningful action across every phase of the construction project.

Trimble Viewpoint has 11,000 plus employees and more than 1,200 construction technology patents worldwide. The company’s approach to creating connected construction environments with the introduction of their innovative software has seen it become an industry leader in the construction technology sector. Andrew Tucker, APAC senior product manager for Trimble Viewpoint says a connected construction environment is necessary for ANZ contractors’ success.

“Our global product strategy, Trimble Construction One, not only connects our own solutions but it’s also a platform that connects the industry. Our products efficiently manage every aspect of your business with data driven management software,” says Tucker.

Construction project management software needs to be connected with real-time data and workflows in order to be efficient and successful and keep project teams on the same page. The siloed approach just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Moving the problem isn’t solving it

A 2020 survey highlighted that nearly a quarter of all construction companies are using six or more separate applications to manage their daily operations. On top of this, Trimble Viewpoint’s recent research found that some 48% of project managers said their project management software had only basic or no data and workflow connections among the other software systems in their company. When the systems and applications don’t talk to each other then problems start to arise. Most commonly, companies have had to manually input the information in several different places, leaving a wide margin for human error.

Having multiple versions of the same document across various platforms then brings with it the potential headache of ensuring everyone is working from the right version. Moving from a paper system to a digital system doesn’t necessarily make a company more efficient. In most cases it simply just shifts the problems to a new place.

Having a single point of access and information for the various aspects of a construction project can do wonders for efficiency. Bringing together everyone to collaborate under one platform with a single source of unified data is proven to have a meaningful impact on the success of a project, meaning constructors can keep their team and clients happy at the same time.

But the connected construction experience can also offer so much more than this; the benefits are truly wide-ranging. Bringing everyone together earlier in the process can help identify potential choke points later in the project that might not have been noticed if working in silos. This can result in everything from fewer change orders and less wasted time and materials right through to lower project costs, which in turn means more profit.

“Data connectivity is critical right through the ecosystem of stakeholders from the extended teams of architects and engineers to project managers and finance teams,” says Tucker.

“Trimble Construction One means everyone in the business is working on the same set of data. There’s no double data entry, there’s no working on old plans, everyone’s working on the same set of data at the same point in time.

“And that drives efficiency, it drives accuracy, it means less rework and in turn that generates cost savings, reduces risk and improves margins.”

Collaboration also offers the potential for innovation, as people come together to share ideas and knowledge, which can only really be a benefit for construction businesses and potentially the industry as a whole.

Scrap the silos

The evolution of the construction industry is not going to stop anytime soon. As technology continues to advance the industry will need to follow suit as new concepts and ideas come to fruition.

Scrapping silos and embracing connected construction workflows is vital. The silos that have become common in construction are hampering the industry now and not only from an efficiency perspective. Removing them can also reduce human error, improve sustainability, streamline complex workflows and crucially, save businesses money.

“ESG and sustainability is hugely important to us here at Trimble Viewpoint,” says Tucker.

“With everyone working from the same set of data, it means you’re building it right the first time. It means there’s less rework which drives down material usage and makes everyone more efficient throughout the entire construction lifecycle. Trimble Construction One has an immediate impact on sustainability.

“Take a bulldozer for example. Previously you would have to work to a 2D plan, you’d have to have someone driving the bulldozer around, you’d have a surveyor going out and checking the levels, you’d be filling and cutting and repeating that work until the levels were correct. Today a bulldozer can be connected directly to the digital model and it becomes a 3D printer of the landscape. It means we can deliver automated machine control into things like bulldozers, they can then automatically operate to the millimetre and get it right first time. And that’s just one example of how, by connecting the digital and physical world, we can really make the industry more efficient and more sustainable.”

Change it up and reap the benefits

It’s probably a pipe dream to imagine that silos will ever truly be a thing of the past, but that’s no reason to stand idly by. The old mantra of ‘we’ve just always done it that way’ simply doesn’t cut it if businesses want to stay relevant and profitable.

Tucker says it’s important when making the step to software integration that businesses find a connected construction suite from a reliable technology vendor and ensure the connected project management software includes automation tools to simplify matters.

Today technology is playing a large role in bringing project teams together, even when they’re physically disconnected, and the right connected cloud solution can facilitate teamwork and collaboration.

“Companies that are taking that step to invest in and adopt new construction technologies are the companies that are really getting the competitive edge in today’s world,” says Tucker.

“It’s a very difficult market at the moment so it’s important now more than ever to adopt new technologies that are the key to downward pressures on cost, preserving your margins and making your business more efficient.”

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