Nowadays, I often hear people talk about making construction workflow efficient and cheaper. They often praise digital tools and machines as god sent avatars, that will help us make +30% savings. They are maybe right, but somehow, this elusive golden fish called savings still slips us each time. Governments, construction companies and consultants, all try in their own ways to cut costs, but haven’t yet been able to catch that elusive fish.
On closer inspection, I see, that it is not that we are not trying hard enough, but rather that our enemy is much smarter than us. And this realization is not something new; we realized this some 20 years ago, and it led us into changing our strategy. We realized, that to catch that elusive fish, we must have smarter weapons. And therefore, along these years we built IFC’s and BIM to assist us in our catch. Today when we have them, we face another problem – teaching people to trust in those weapons.
The one reason that stops people involved in infraconstruction, especially municipality, from trusting in BIM is because investment in BIM doesn’t pay back immediately. Therefore, they choose to cut costs using old immediate but harmful methods, like choosing the lowest bidder for a project, even though he presents inferior designs and surveys. They also resort to hiring fewer people in their offices, and instead choose to outsource inferior quality work.
This has led to construction companies building the worst quality designs in our cities, and has in turn increased costs involved in maintenance exponentially. And because the municipality is anyway low on funds, this extra cost adds up as debt, pressurizing the municipality even more.
This is where we need to teach people to trust our new weapon (BIM). And our chief target amongst them is the municipality.
Getting the municipality to improve.
An old proverb says:
Fix a mistake in design, it will cost you 1 euro. Fix a mistake in construction, it will cost you 10 euros. Fix a mistake in maintenance, it will cost you 100 euros.
Here’s what this means:
If we invested more in surveying, got our designs perfect before construction, gave machine guidance models to construction companies and gave them access to ecosystem BIM files. The construction companies could then invest more in development, and get their return on investments faster by building faster.
Also, this way municipality as an infrastructure owner would always get the best price through bid offerings. And if design consultants, construction companies and others cooperated and did their work faster. With competition, municipalities would make massive savings in cost.
We see an example of this, when we compare big projects against small projects. Where small projects cost much more per cubic meter, against big projects. The reason for this is because construction companies, that build big projects receive support from government. And using this support they get their work done faster. Whereas for small projects, such support is minimal or at times even non-existent, and thus smaller projects cost much more per cubic meter.
Therefore, the municipality must understand that if they want to save up, they need to support local construction companies to improve and develop. If the municipality continuously pressurizes the local construction companies by giving them extremely low profit margins. There is no room for them to make investments into building more efficiently.
But this does not necessarily mean giving the local construction companies plainly more profit. This rather means giving them better support with design and information, so that the local construction companies can do their work more efficiently.
Here’s an example of that.
Some time ago, the Finnish traffic administration demanded that all construction companies working on their projects, must use machine guidance.
In the beginning the results were not awe inspiring, but with due time, the costs of the projects went down; so much as to, today everybody talks about how the profit of machine guidance is all used up in Finnish traffic administration’s projects.
Therefore, I would say, the key idea to +30% savings in infraconstruction is to support local construction companies, and in that support, you as an infrastructure owner are bound to make savings too.
To execute this, next time remember to give extra points in bid offers to those contractors and designers, who use machine guidance and real-time project management softwares in their projects.
If you want to explore this idea further, I recommend you to read this article. It is a complete guidebook to ensure +30% profits in all your projects.
Also if you liked what you read here, I would want you to give back to all infrastructure industry people:
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- Leave a comment below. And tell me what you think about this.
- Join the Infra Pioneer Group so we can together take this further.