Many years ago, I attended a course on negotiating and learned the phrase "access to information is power." This is especially true in the real estate market. If you can find out what is motivating a person to sell their home—money, a quick sale, etc.—you have more leverage in the negotiation because of that information.
Acquiring critical information on equipment is now
as easy as scanning a barcode.
When it comes to performing quality control inspections on the job site, access to information is also power.
When a quality incident or mistake occurs in the field, it is often because the workers did not have the latest drawings, or they lacked access to the project specifications or the ASTM testing document. Today, access to information through mobile technology can greatly reduce these problems.
To provide our field teams with the latest in mobile technology, PCL has a corporate-wide agreement with Autodesk for their BIM 360 field mobility software. This software is strategically aligned with Autodesk's other BIM software platforms to provide seamless transitions from the office to the field. I was curious to see if information is power in the construction world, so I sought out two recent projects to test this theory.
Putting it to the Test
The first project I visited was a parking structure being built by PCL to provide additional parking spaces for the Colorado Rockies home opener game to start their 2014 professional baseball season. The PCL project team uploaded the project drawings and specifications onto a standard Apple iPad and went about creating their final punch list for the project using the BIM 360 software. The inspections, which included tagging a specific drawing location with deficiencies along with a picture right from the Apple device, were completed quickly and efficiently by the PCL field engineer. The issues were automatically sorted by the subcontractor required to correct the work and e-mailed wirelessly right from the project site; no more written reports e-mailed with attached photographs like we used to do.
What I found most interesting was how much the subcontractors appreciated this new software. They could access their specific punch list items from their iPads, find the exact location on the drawings from the tag marker, and reference the attached image file for additional information. Bottom line is that the subcontractors were more efficient in correcting their issues, resulting in less time on-site—definitely a win-win for all involved, including the Rockies on their opening day (a 12-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks).
The second project I visited was a water treatment facility in Southern California. The project required that 188 unique pieces of process equipment be procured, delivered to site, inspected, installed, and commissioned prior to operation. The PCL project team is using the barcode feature available with the BIM 360 software (see photo) to create a unique barcode for each piece of equipment from the moment it arrives on-site.
BIM 360 puts all the information you need at your fingertips. Simply scan the barcode on the equipment to capture the unique attributes of each piece of equipment (ID tag number, manufacturer, make, model number, and so forth). Then, in the peace and comfort of the office, the information is loaded automatically into the original building information model on the iPad, making it easily available for quality inspections in the field. Information is power!
It is exciting to see technology being used this way by innovative project teams across PCL to ensure that work is "built right and built once".