Design & Construction efficiency reduces waste and makes industry more profitable

Improving  construction efficiency.

After 24 years in the design and construction industry, I sit back and look at how much money is thrown away due to waste.  There are many things that contribute to waste, and I have observed it first hand in large companies, as well as in my own custom design & construct company.  Sadly, I believe that we waste 30% on every project and construction efficiency from the start is where we all could improve.

 

Waste is more than what we throw in the bin.

Where are we wasting money, and where could we improve construction efficiency? Firstly, it is important to look at where waste create is created. Many assume that waste is simply due to design process inefficiencies, or over-orders. In fact, most of us conclude that the rubbish that is thrown in the bin on site is the largest percentage of waste. However, it’s simply not true. In my experience, over/under-ordering & incorrect order-waste, accounts for merely 5% waste for volume builders & 10% waste for custom home builders. Although the percentage is small, this waste is still not acceptable and can easily be halved with the right technology.  

 

Too many plans.

I believe  a large percentage of waste (10% to 15%) is due to communication, documentation and time management inefficiencies.  A set of plans with 40 or more pages is waste,  it wastes design & drafting time,  estimators time, the builders time, and the engineers time. Moreover, it dramatically increases the chance of error. So why do we do it? Unfortunately, our industry does not adapt to change or embrace technology. We (the design, construction  & manufacturing industries) are all guilty of doing it the same way over and over again. The mentality is: if it kind of works, why change it? And without a feasible, hassle-free solution, most would tend to agree. However, I will never be okay with waste – we have the capacity and technology to evolve for the better. Now is the time to look at the possibilities, and change our industry. I believe that 3D Virtual Design and Construction, BIM models, is the answer to construction efficiency.

3D VDC model for construction efficiency and communictaion of structural intent.

 

Waste is included as contingency. Why?

Before I discuss how we can reduce this waste with Virtual Design and Construction & BIM , there’s a large percentage of waste that’s yet to be discussed. A large portion of waste is derived from the way that we perform a Bill of Materials. Smaller builders can spend 40 hours (or more) of unpaid work to undertake a BOQ. Once the take off is compiled and a final figure is reached, it’s presented in the form of a preliminary quote or price. The price is either accepted or rejected, and for the lucky tenderer, the job proceeds to a contract. However, an average project has up to 3 to 5 builders tendering on the job, for free.  That is approximately 200 hours of unpaid work. Now that is some major waste.. Moreover, if the successful tenderer gets a contract signed and proceeds to construction, all of the information that was compiled for the quotation must now be added to a project management application, and also an accounting program. Believe it or not, this is not a click of a button, and in the majority of cases, a builder will spend another 40 to 400 hours to finish this work. Is anyone seeing my point here? This is direct waste, it cannot be recouped, construction efficiency it’s not. It’s also worth noting, the client essentially pays for this wasted time, as it’s add as  contingency into their margin, to cover some of their losses. This is a global problem, and it’s costing our industry trillions of dollars.

 

It is true, the design Industry and  Construction Industry are beginning to embrace Building Information Modelling (BIM). In fact, some governments across the world have now  mandated BIM on public infrastructure. However, large construction project case-studies have shown that BIM has resulted in less than a 5% saving.

 

We need more than just BIM.

I believe, if BIM is to truly change our Industry for the better, it needs to be combined with Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) and EstimatingImagine if Builders could quote directly from a comprehensive 3D Virtual Design and Construction model? This would be the ultimate in construction efficiency and a huge advantage to industry as a whole.

 construction efficiency startes with a 3D model with structural timber Steel, HVAC, and trusses for 3D BIM & VDC

The technology is available.

We already have the technology to create a 3D model (in various iterations). However, for some silly reason, we return to antiquated practices by spending endless hours converting it into 2D, just to print it as a huge plan set. This is where the waste percentage rises again & construction efficiency suffers. The tail-end contractors may not have seen the 3D model or understood the project’s complexities. And in many cases, even the engineers will not see it in 3D. In my opinion, Project Stakeholders, as well as the trades should be able to analyse the 3D model at any time (especially on site). I believe that this would lead to far less errors, waste and increase construction efficiency by up to 30%.

 

More than Just a 3D model.

I’ve trouble understanding why 3D models are used as nothing more than a new way to create 2D plans! I can only assume the designer has IP, or liability concerns. If there is a problem, and if the latter is indeed the reason, this leads me to Integrated Project Delivery: ‘IPD’  (stay tuned for our upcoming IPD article). Essentially IPD is where the Designer, Engineer, Client and Builder, all assess the 3D model and collaborate on the best outcome. The main thing to be taken from this is that the liability is now spread over the participants, and not wholly and solely placed on the designer.  It also gives contractors the ability to be up front and charge for all work done instead of adding it as contingency in their margins. Most importantly, 3D  allows project stakeholders to truly understand the design intent, and easily accommodate for specific complexities.

Virtual Design and Construction VDC saves waste and improves construction efficiency

BIM by itself is not enough.

If our Industry is to reduce waste, we need to incorporate construction efficiency via 3D Virtual Design and Construction, BIM & Estimation, in a Design and Construction Delivery Model:

 

  1. Designer preliminary design 3D. (Paid)
  2. Designer uploads model to cloud & sets permissions for access. (Paid)
  3. Client agrees/ comments on design.
  4. Engineer has a preliminary preview and comments. (Paid)
  5. Tendering builders & or Sub Contractors have a preliminary preview and comments. (Paid)
  6. Designer compiles and replies to tagged comments, which have been saved in the draft 3D model. (Paid)
  7. Client agrees on aesthetic changes due to feedback (if any).
  8. Engineer adds in structural detail. (Paid)
  9. Builder & or Sub Contractors A,B,C etc. receive model and perform 1click quantity take off’s, and associate prices. Comments if required. (Paid)
  10. Builder agrees model is complete, or comments. (Paid)
  11. Builder submits tender price.
  12. Authorities are informed of development application and also view model: shadows and neighbouring properties notification. Basic model is shared and approval is given, or objections are sent to designer.
  13. Designer & client choose winning tender.
  14. Builder adds 1 click take off to accounting software.
  15. Builder builds from model, and a small 2D set (if required).

When a Design and Construction Delivery Model, such as the above, is implemented on all size projects, the industry will see huge cost savings and massive reductions in waste (of all kinds).

 

The Results.

As we get more technologically advanced,  time will being freed up and not chewed up in retrofits and last minute plan re-issues.  2D document delivery is ‘old hat’. It’s time to embrace the future by actually utilising the 3D model at every stage of a project.

 

On a closing note, here is the icing on the cake: When a project is delivered in such a way that it has all of the information saved in the 3D model, ongoing facility maintenance and alterations will no longer require redraws (as-builts) or structural adequacy reports. These are the number one contributing factors when it comes waste in the renovate extension sector of our industry.

 

A 3D model has the capacity to be the communicator of past and present design and construction information. It is the vault in which all  information can be stored & found efficiently, at any point in time.

 

I have spent the last 9 years of my life creating a solution for  construction efficiency. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

 

All the best for 2016.

Andrew Dwight, 

🙂

5 Comments

  • Extremely interesting post! There are very remarkable points about how to deal with waste and to prevent it. My observation of this article is that there is a very well established concept about how to prevent waste, but it needs more time to be implemented and adopt from the companies!

    • Profile photo of Tyler Moeke Tyler Moeke says:

      Hi Mercedes,
      Thank you for your comment.
      It would be great if we could get more companies adapting the use of 3D BIM Design software to accurately measure quantities to minimize waste

    • We have spent a lot of time creating ways for manufacturers to efficiently get their products into PlusSpec basically to reduce wasting of time. Keep in mind many manufacturers have thousands of products and it would be expensive doing them all one by one. The biggest drawback for manufacturers was cost. In the very near future we will be releasing an innovation that will see this type of information being loaded in one tenth of the time it had taken up until now. For more infomrtaion contact our office on +61 29679 2429 we are happy to help.

  • Dirk Jackson says:

    I agree 100% with your philosophy of building efficiency. You are absolutely on the right track. The potential for builders to improve their cost-effectiveness using PlusSpec is enormous. Cutting out the huge amount of waste caused by the “old methods” will allow builders to make exactly the same, if not more money, while at the same time offering clients much more attractive and affordable prices, which will also create more referrals and more work.

    The public generally feel builders charge too much. And in a way they are right. It’s because the current methods are packed with waste – just as you describe in this post.

    You’re definitely heading in the right direction. Keep going !

    • Thanks Dirk, yes we can all improve efficiency from design through to construction. I can’t leave our designer and architect friends out, as the ones who use PlusSpec are starting the waste reduction from the get go. Unfortunately our industry has been a slow mover up until the last year or so. It is the same old story, “I have been doing it this way for 30 years” and that is true in some cases, however things have now changed. Many now see how this technology directly relates to actuals which is a good thing for industry and reputation of builders. Waste in construction is more than just material overruns…After doing some stats I found we waste a whole lot of time deciphering what has been designed and the best ways to economically achieve the design intent, architects and designers can now be the builders most valuable resource for winning work, reducing quote time and increased communictaion via 3d model. It is a win win situation for everyone in my view.

      PlusSpec 2016 2017 will be coming out very soon and we have continued with the same theme of simplicity yet we have added in some important things like pack size and band sizes: EG if a manufacturer only sells brick in packs of 100 and you need 180 PlusSpec will automatically add 200 to the estimate (this way your quote will not be short). This helps with time and querying suppliers on why the invoice is more than the purchase order. the best thing is the designer or the builder do not need to know it as it’s added behind the scenes of PlusSpec.

      I can’t talk too much about what the next version of PlusSpec holds, yet I can talk about us adding geolocation to several categories of bulk items… If you are on one side of the country and the products are on another, the general preference is to not specify the non locally available product as there is shipping time, freight cost and downtime associated with it “waste”. I always like to buy products that are readily available locally (they can be made anywhere in the world as long as they are distributed locally) many users requested this functionality, so we listened and are implementing this functionality as I type. The geolocated locally distributed product functionality will also help manufacturers get involved, I encourage all of our users to contact your local suppliers or resellers. We are always happy to take calls or emails in this regard, I wnat evry supplier in teh world available for you.

      Thanks again for commenting and being part of PlusSpec, where are you from Dirk? We love to support our users and we get hundreds of calls and emails from around the world in regards to recommending PlusSpec users to clients, we are happy to add you to the list, provided you can handle more work or want to expand your business of course…
      All the best, regards Andrew Dwight

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