The first digitized construction projects go back many years, yet there are still some main contractors who have not yet adopted the technology to organize, monitor and hand over their projects.
Design assistance software appeared in the consumer market in the 1960s. Over the following decades, the democratization of IT brought with it its share of software publishers with the aim of modernizing the construction sector. The software of the time was mainly designed to facilitate the design of structures and was in fact limited to use by architectural teams. It was not until the 2010s and the arrival of tablets and smartphones that IT tools adapted to the constraints of construction sites emerged. These tools can be used on the go, with or without a connection, and do not require specific training.
This article explains how the use of software like Kairnial allows you to make the planning of each stage of the project more fluid, facilitate the everyday life of the site, simplify management and exchanges between all the stakeholders of the site to achieve - ultimately - a smooth handover.
BIM & EDM: essential tools for the organization of construction sites
A construction project always comprises key stages: design phase, construction or performance phase, handover phase, delivery phase and operational phase or even deconstruction phase.
Whether residential, office or infrastructure projects or major works of art, they always start with the definition of the architectural and technical needs for which you, as a main contractor, will have to provide some of the answers. Obtaining the works contract then depends on the proposals and solutions that you will provide. However, it should be noted that this is not the sole criterion for selecting the contractor that will carry out the work. The technical brief, the overall reputation of your company and your quantitative cost estimate or breakdown of the general and flat-rate price also play a role in your potential selection in the tendering process.
From this stage prior to the signing of works contracts, digital technology is an ally on which you must rely. Indeed, digital technology allows you to anticipate your work costs and your productivity and to offer a financial response as accurately as possible to the requests made by the owner and the architect. Via BIM or Building Information Modeling, which provides a work method, display of 2D plans and 3D modeling of those same plans provided by the project management team, you are able to plan your organization as efficiently as possible as well as the costs of the project. It is, by the way, a significant opportunity to showcase your professionalism to the architect and owner teams who themselves heavily use digital technology in their everyday work.
With digital technology, you will also be able to offer owners and architects the opportunity to share all the contractor consultation documents on your Kairnial EDM (electronic documentary management). Indeed, on the web as well as on tablets and smartphones, you benefit from storage space that gives you the possibility of linking up different levels of document consultation, edition and modification rights. In other words, you give instant access to the owner and architect to your answers while being sure that they will not be modified without your approval. This EDM can in fact continue to be used during the performance of works. You can then consult - at any time and very simply - all the information relating to the construction project such as your CCAG-P (general and specific administrative clauses), your CCTG-P (general and specific technical clauses), the planning of the SPC and, above all, the plans targeted by the architect. Thanks to document versioning, you can easily identify the elements that have just been updated.
Protect your profit margins through quality controls
The time has come to start work on the structure. Although the use of BIM and Kairnial EDM facilitates the organization of the site, it alone cannot guarantee the smooth progress and quality of the work. Hitches are commonplace on construction sites. This is why controlling the quality of work as much as possible is the key to reducing unforeseen events which slow down the site and generate extra costs.
Proactivity is fundamental in the performance of work. Rather than being reactive and waiting for the identification of defects during the pre-handover or handover phases or even intervening later during the defect liability period (DLP), you can regularly monitor compliance and professional construction standards through your quality inspections. This used to be carried out during specific inspections by the company's quality advisor who would note all the planned control points and the needs for correction or modification on the work, directly on printed sheets. These sheets were then stored in binders which were archived and possibly scanned to be sent by email to other stakeholders such as the inspection office or the architect. The criterion for verifying the performance of these checks was very often the general appearance of the check sheet itself: rather crumpled, with a few concrete splashes if possible. As in industry, which has used digital inspections for many years now, these quality audits can now be completely performed with software.
First, your company’s check sheets will be digitized and stored on the platform thanks to the Kairnial teams. Then, the teams who have to inspect the entire construction will be able to consult and complete all the quality sheets directly on their tablet or smartphone. The information is automatically saved in the software and can be shared with all project stakeholders, whether internal or external to your company. By digitizing your quality control processes, you get a complete and consolidated view of the performance of work through customized reports in PDF or Excel format.
Each time an inspection raises a point of non-compliance, you will be able to link it to a defect to correct. There is no need to call the person or contractor concerned. The application will allow you to locate the defect directly on your BIM model or on your plans, assign it to and notify the right people. In addition to speeding up the processing of the problem, you will be able to track its resolution in real time thanks to status notifications: to do, done, in progress, etc. In addition to the observations created during inspections, you can of course add defects in the application during site inspections or on a one-off basis. The objective is to allow you, the main contractor, to identify all the defects during the performance of the work in order to remedy them as soon as possible. This means that progress on the site is not slowed down while reducing the number of defects during handover. This has in fact become a major factor since certain property development companies have committed to delivering buildings with zero defects. As for your quality controls, you have the possibility of sharing the troubleshooting process via specific reports and thus reassuring your clients as to the good performance of the work.
Digital technology must be the keystone to your zero-accident strategy
Safety takes many forms on a construction site. Whether in human or infrastructure safety, the objective is clearly to provide the teams with the healthiest possible working environment.
By storing the safety data sheets in your application, you facilitate prevention for your teams. Indeed, the first difficulty is always access to information. If the teams cannot easily consult the safety data sheets, it is obviously very complicated to set up a prevention plan that will be followed.
With software like Kairnial, all your safety checks are shared with all the teams working on the construction sites. This optimizes the chances of having these checks implemented correctly.
Simplified collaboration with your subcontractors
If, initially, the software is mainly beneficial internally, it is in reality due to the phasing of the sites. Indeed, the first stages of construction rarely see the intervention of specialized works. However, as soon as the structural work is completed, it is much easier to understand the value of having a tool that facilitates and optimizes collaboration with other teams.
At the end of the structural work, your masons will move to other sites, leaving room for your subcontractors who will tackle the architectural works. This time you will act as the coordinator (and project manager). Just as you benefited from the Kairnial platform for yourselves, it is then used to distribute sets of plans and documents relating to the project to all the subcontractors. You can also share the subcontracting contract directly through the platform’s EDM module. Each time a subcontractor carries out a quality or safety inspection and pinpoints a defect on the plans or the model, you can view it without having to contact the contractor and check the handling of the defects from your office. The time saved can be used to prepare for future sites.
The time has come to hand over!
The end of works requires the crucial and mandatory handover stage. Everyone involved in the project meets on site and scrutinizes every part of the structure to find the slightest defect. Each defect is then photographed and noted in a separate document (most often an Excel spreadsheet) which is then cleaned up once back at the office and finally sent by email to the relevant contractors. This post-handover work is particularly time-consuming and can generate mistakes. It is often difficult to remember perfectly what problem was identified and where the fault defect is located. Anyone who has already accepted a project knows that there are frequent trips back and forth between homes or offices to ensure that the defects are correctly recorded.
With Kairnial, should certain defects be identified despite your previous vigilance, you will directly locate on the plans in the tablet, or your smartphone, those defects that you wish to transmit to your subcontractors concomitantly upon handover of the work with the owner together with the architect. To ensure that these defects are properly understood by future stakeholders, you can again complete the attributes of the defect with photos and comments. You save precious time and avoid considerable stress. Finally, reducing defects guarantees not having to intervene too often after handover.
Traceability and continuous improvement
What happens in the platform stays in the platform. All the actions you do with Kairnial are logged and saved in the application allowing you to justify all the work you have done or are in the process of doing.
But above all, it is a great opportunity to draw on the experiences of each site in order to improve.
Without software, it is very difficult to identify the most frequently encountered errors with certainty. Often, we make suppositions rather than assertions. With the software, all the data of the work is brought together in a single platform. The data is displayed in tables organized to optimize the analysis of inspections and defects relating to operations. This is what is known as data visualization.
The works management, aided by its works supervisors and site managers, can, in a few clicks, display the most regularly encountered problems on its projects and consequently offer specific training in order to make employees aware of the least mastered subjects. The company can therefore, through digital technology, capitalize on previous sites. Each project becomes an opportunity for you, as the main contractor, to improve and increase the skills of your teams. In the longer term, you should see a significant decrease in the number of faults and defects.
Digital handover: the project’s identity card
After the handover, and once all the defects have been processed, you will certainly be concentrating on another project, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. The owner, to name but them, will deliver the work to their end customer. For example, they will have to retrieve the handover document from the architect and make it available to the property manager or the operator of the building. It will be your obligation to transmit all the elements provided for in the general and specific administrative clauses.
BIM again has its place in this process. By updating the model yourself or by sharing the actual technical modifications throughout the project’s life cycle, in real time with the architect, you are sure to deliver the handover document on time thanks to a BIM model that already reflects the reality of the building. This is referred to as the handover model.
From the tendering package phase and throughout the performance of the works, by using specific software for construction, you anticipate a large number of defects prior to handover. As a result, this phase, which is so complex in normal times, becomes a simple formality for you and your teams. By changing your method of preparing and monitoring work, you gain in productivity on your sites and increase your chances of winning future calls for tenders.
The question is no longer will you digitize the management of your projects but when are you going to drive digitization in your projects by connecting all the stakeholders to your Kairnial collaborative platform?