Everyone keeps talking about making workflow more efficient, get this tool or buy this machine. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency… But how we all can really get the +30% savings in Infraconstruction?
To find the problem, we need to ask, what doesn’t improve?
There is common saying that if a mistake in design doesn’t get fixed and the fixing would cost 1.000€, fixing that mistake in construction phase would cost 10.000€. If it doesn’t get fixed even in the construction phase, in the maintenance the fixing cost will rise up to 100.000€.
We have government-lead development, construction company-lead development, and consultant-lead development all struggling with the same issue. How do we get infra construction costs in control? How do we can really push efficiency and get more savings in Infraconstruction?
At the start, we all agreed on one thing:
Best way to cost-efficiency is to build it once with the best end results.
This as everyone’s start point, each country has started their own development for the better infrastructure world.
Now after 20 years, what are the end results? We have hundreds of IFC versions, BIM for cost calculation, for design, and for construction. These are tools to automate parts of human labor. But are we there yet?
We have built a great variety of support tools to achieve great results, but why we aren’t using those tools? Why is all of us still scrambling around?
We need to ask a question: what isn’t improving?
Jero! It’s all municipalities’ fault! They give us ever increasing demands, and the competition cuts all the profits without giving us proper support! How can we work if someone doesn’t care for our work efficiency!?
We need to ask a question: What isn’t improving?
How to get municipalities to improve.
Okay! Enough municipality shaming!
Let’s think from a municipality official’s point of view.
How could we support our service providers? The council and the technical board is pressuring us to save at the cost of construction anyway possible. Getting the approval of investments to build all maintenance and new construction projects is not enough, but you guys are asking that we should get approval to spend more money!
On one hand, investing to support local construction companies to build cheaper and faster will cost a hefty amount of money for the municipality. Supporting companies own development into more effective tools is not cheap and doesn’t show up in savings in Infraconstruction immediately.
And on another hand, if we provide the minimum details to bid offering and let the bid race take the toll, that is the only logical way to save up. The only risk is that construction companies may go bankrupt during the construction, but that’s not blood in our hand. We still got the project as cheap as possible.
So the question remains. Why support service providers if it doesn’t pay back immediately?
I have seen this many times. Better to just provide the minimum and save costs at every corner you can. Less design and surveying, choose the lowest bidder, and fewer men in the municipality to manage the process. Outsource everything you can.
Well, where has it taken us?
We have low-quality knowledge of our infrastructure property, construction companies won’t make the best quality, maintenance costs are high, and often we are not able to fund all of it. Repair debt just keeps growing year by year. Often going over 100M€ even for a small town.
Are we happy with the end results?
Of course not!
So what is left to do?
Here in Finland, all municipality officials have this smart book on how to manage their municipality’s investments. There is a section for investing in innovation. I wonder how so many of us have forgotten it?
Investing in Innovation
What does this really mean? We already talked about municipalities scarce funds to build everything. How on earth we can invest more?
Well let me run through my logic and let me know does it make sense.
If we would do more surveying and putting more effort to get designs as usable for construction as possible, it would help the construction companies to build faster.
If we would give machine guidance models and open ecosystem BIM files for construction companies, they could invest more in the development and get their investments paid faster by building faster.
And at last, Municipality, as a infrastructure owner gets always the best price through bid offerings. If design consultants, construction companies or others can operate and do their work faster. With competition, municipalities will save at costs greatly.
There is this discrepancy already happening in big vs small projects. Construction companies who build big projects get this support from government officials and utilizing this support into maximum, gets work done faster. When looking for small projects, this support is minimal or something even non-existent, and thus making all smaller projects cost much more per cubic meter.
If you as municipality want to save up, you need to support local construction companies to improve and develop. If the local construction companies profit margin is low, they cannot make investments to build more efficiently.
What Jero? Are you saying we should give more profits to local construction companies?
No. I am saying to give better support with design and information so that local construction companies can make their work more efficiently.
But only if they invest into improvement.
Finnish traffic administration did that. They demanded that all construction companies who work on their projects need to use machine guidance.
What were the results?
First, the cost of projects stayed the same, but the due time it got cheaper. Now construction companies talk that the profit of machine guidance is all eaten up in Finnish traffic administration’s projects.
See! They got savings in Infraconstruction. It’s a clear profit for infrastructure owners to support service providers.
Alright, I see your point. But what should we do to support our local constructors?
Give extra points in bid offers for using machine guidance and real-time project management software, provide machine guidance models from designs, and give better surveying analysis.
The best way is to ask design consultants or construction companies directly.“What would you want to have to make your work as fast as possible?”
And that’s it in its basic form.
If you want to delve deep on how to get whole life cycle of infrastructure, read this definitive guide
Now, I want you to give back to all infrastructure industry people.
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