With everyone emphasising on the importance of digitalisation today, are we really sure of what it entails to successfully transition into a digital mode of construction project delivery?
Challenging times for the industry
Even before the global lockdown, the industry was feeling the pinch. Construction News posted an article stating 22 construction firms in the UK were in some stage of administration of bankruptcy. Companies ranging from 1M to around a 100M worth of turnover. This was already a key indicator for process improvement and for companies to become more efficient in their practices to survive in the industry.
The global pandemic that brought work to a halt
With COVID – 19 restricting work as we know it globally, the industry is calling for a radical shift in the delivery of construction projects. There has never been a greater need for clear communication and collaboration in the industry.
With already gut-wrenching profit margins, companies are now having to deal with closing sites for indefinite periods of time, and for sites that are trying to keep open are working at a reduced capacity with reduced workforce working in multiple shifts. With various parts of the team having to work from home and social-distancing on sites, work practices as we know it are in for a complete overhaul.
Safe Distancing Guidelines
Right now, governments across the globe are laying out guidelines regarding work progress on-site. If there isn’t a complete restriction of work, guidelines for safe practices are defined to ensure social distancing, as well as best practices in terms of safety and health for all those present on site.
So, what’s next?
This is the time to bring in improvements while revising project delivery methods. Primarily, this can be done in two parts.
Part – 1: Mapping the status-quo, potential constraints, and analysing it:
- Can the work continue? If yes, then at what pace and how? What are the requirements and guidelines that need to be addressed? These questions need to be thoroughly reviewed.
- Next, check the status of resources – Can you get the materials you need? Is the supply chain still operational? What is the status of your manpower?
Part – 2: Collaborating over the Strategy forward.
- Based on this analysis, you can start planning your next steps; collaborate with your team over rescheduling decisions based on the constraint mapped, assign constraints to relevant team members to tackle, and initiate a pull planning session based on the phases defined.
- Step-by-step workout your look-ahead plan, narrowing down to specifics before committing to your weekly work plan. Collaborate with your site team to take commitments for the production plan for constraint-free tasks which have been made-ready.
But where does digitalisation fit in this?
Digitalisation is key to continue working efficiently today. Current times are going to force people to work from a distance; be it separation of 2 meters on-site, or miles while working from homes across different parts of the globe.
Factors listed below are key to understanding why digitalisation is the need-of-the-hour, as well as the aspects that constitute a good digital solution.
1. Planning Control
- Presently, planning cannot be done in isolation by simply automating a new schedule on a software. It is beyond a system’s comprehension to factor in the uncertainty of the current scenario; from government regulations to supply chain to workforce constraints. Social distancing norms make it impossible to have the same number of workers as planned earlier. This calls for an overall review of the workforce allocated per location, per day.
2. Realistic Collaboration
- The focus right now is to have the control in the team’s hand, where one can collaborate over strategic decisions going forward while working remotely. One should be able to digitally collaborate with the team and give realistic commitments to the tasks ahead while factoring in the real-time scenario of resources and site conditions.
3. Single Integrated Platform
- You need a common platform for all stakeholders to review the project plan and status, without having to wait on individual reports and analysis. Having a common window to study the project right now is essential for people to collaborate better, with more efficiency.
4. Information Flow and Waste Minimisation
- With distant working, information needs to still be seamlessly transmitted across project teams with minimal physical interaction. Even on-site, task allocation, and handovers must be digitally communicated across the various teams.
5. Real-time monitoring from anywhere
- Live updates from site must flow uninterrupted across the entire project team, irrespective of their individual locations. Real-time tracking prevents any latency in terms of project progress review, thereby enabling all stakeholders to operate in sync.
Key to Digital Transformation
For a successful transition to digitalisation of project delivery, it is essential to align technology with people and processes. A top-down approach of deploying any market solution is not going to promise you benefits automatically; it is equally important to align the solution to your existing processes, the mindset of your people, and then gradually and incrementally introduce process changes towards a digital model of project delivery.
The “Digital” you need right now!
There are various “Digital” solutions in the market promising various benefits; however, most of these solutions address only peripheral concerns. The right alignment of lean processes with digitalisation requires a solution that addresses the core of lean production management. This penetration requires a solution developed through a pure understanding of what defines lean in its conceptual, as well as practical understanding.
We created VisiLean to harness all these aspects of Lean Construction and integrate it within a digital platform for construction projects.
With VisiLean, we address the heart of construction production management. With dedicated modules to digitalise your production planning, monitoring, and tracking, and the right set of tools to provide production control, VisiLean helps you transition seamlessly towards Lean digitalisation. With dedicated support and excellent system interoperability, we respect your teams’ familiarisation with existing platforms and workflows, promising smooth onboarding and transition across the organisation, one step at a time.
If you want to take the first steps towards digitalisation and save significant time and cost on your construction projects, sign up for a 30 days fully featured free trial at VisiLean – https://visilean.com/free-trial/