[Blog] How Owners Can Improve Profitability Using Construction Tech

April 15, 2021 Alyssa Jaber

Owners of capital programs have their work cut out for them. In addition to overseeing a large volume of projects, many also operate a portfolio of buildings and need to ensure that their teams are set up for success during the handover process.

With several moving parts (and a lot at stake), the best owners know that they need robust tools and systems to keep projects running smoothly. That’s why many of them turn to construction management software to help to facilitate various processes and coordinate with their teams. 

In our upcoming webinar, Autodesk brings together two notable owners who are doing just that. 

Join us on April 22nd, as we chat with Glen​ Hines, Director of Building Information Modeling Systems at Prologis and Jeff Shaw, Principle Construction Lead at Chick-fil-A Corporate. In the webinar, “Why Capital Owners Need to Take Ownership of Project Data,” we’ll discuss how these owners are using construction technology to improve the profitability and efficiency of their capital projects. 

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Ahead of the webinar, we caught up with Glen and Jeff to get their initial thoughts on how construction software has helped them better manage their projects and properties. 

Tell us about your role within the organization.

Jeff: I recently joined the construction services group within Chick-fil-A, and am honored to serve on a unique team that supports all of the different regions across the United States. This work includes real estate, development, design, construction, and facilities and equipment. 

Our projects mostly consist of properties that Chick-fil-A procures, develops, designs, constructs, and maintains with the help of our trusted partners. It’s different from other brands in that we get the opportunity to perform portfolio management activities with our amazing partners. There are hundreds of new projects underway and we average between 100-150 new construction projects every year. 

I gratefully serve on a team that supports six regions in the United States. We also serve teams in Canada and Puerto Rico and Hawaii, as soon as we can get out there. 

Between international and domestic, we serve every region with faithful stewardship to help encourage consistency, high performance teams, technology, and inspire servant leadership. That includes leveraging industrialized construction, lean tools and techniques, best practices and cross-regional learning to have a positive influence on all that come into contact with Chick-fil-A.

Glen: I’m the Director of Building Information Modeling Systems here at Prologis, and I’ve been at the company for about two and a half years. I oversee and manage the process, beginning early on through the design.

I help build our technical guidelines — meaning the processes, the workflows, the pounding of the keyboard strokes that our design teams do.

Our design is done out of house, so I help manage and coordinate all of the architects that we use across the US, Mexico, and Brazil, to make sure that we’re all on the same page. We have roughly around 33 markets here in the US, so it can be challenging to make sure that we get everything covered.

We really build these models. We now have a true BIM program compared to what it was two years ago when I first started. We have our own Revit templates and processes.

This means every architect now draws the same identical way — whether you’re in Miami, Seattle, Southern California, or New Jersey — all of our drawings are identical. 

That helps with the process of internal users who are looking at sets of construction documents. It’s easy for them to find the information all the way up through as we go into design and construction, or construction and then going into operations.

How do you benefit from construction management software?

Jeff:

Before adopting digital tools, I can tell you we experienced many mistakes that happened in the field. When you have paper drawings for hundreds of projects and you’ve got design revisions, plus a leadership team who’s trying to stay current thru a sea of change management, it’s extremely difficult. Managing program change and distributing new information to folks in the field who need it most but have pieces of paper just isn’t a recipe for success.

So, we started our PlanGrid journey in 2018. That was a great benefit to us. All of our design team members were already Revit-friendly, and working in BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Glue – the whole BIM 360 lineup. All of that was already operational, so we were able to bridge together Design and Construction with PlanGrid, which was really field-facing.

Going digital and working in a cloud-based platform like Autodesk has given us the opportunity to do other things, like improve digital submittal approvals and instantaneous RFI submissions that were just not available previously.  These features serve field teams stronger than before and our goal is to serve field teams with our best. 

We used to do a process called the red line drawings where somebody on my team would go to the field and take literally a red pen and go mark a bunch of stuff in the drawings and then we would hope that the builder would incorporate that into the build. 

So now, not only can we do that same process digitally or make last-minute adjustments to the construction set, but we can do it where it’s transparent, recorded, and instantly accessible. It’s in the cloud where the entire team can see it. Everybody can see it instantly and everything is date and time-stamped. Keeping it simple, keeping it visual, and keeping living is key.

That ultimate transparency with when and how things are communicated and documented is just light years beyond what was ever imaginable or capable from a paper-based construction system. We can serve Superintendents better today than ever before.

Glen: Our goal was to cut design times literally in half. Instead of taking six weeks to do an entire shell, we want to know, “Why can’t I do it in three weeks now?” There’s a lot of processes that come into play, but ultimately our goal is greater speed to market. 

If I can get them designed and built faster, then we can get customers in there a lot sooner. A month’s time across 50 buildings is tremendous for us. If I can save a month off of each building that we’re designing, that’s phenomenal. 

We utilize BIM 360, so all of our projects are stored globally there. That way, it gives me full access and visibility into anything they’re doing in Brazil, Europe, Mexico, and here in the US. I can open it up and look at any project that we’re doing globally. 

BIM 360 is our server, and it’s our hub as well. Prologis doesn’t have a server that just has models floating all over the place. We require all of our design teams to work on BIM 360, and then I can link BIM 360 to all of those other applications.

How does construction data enable success in operations?

Jeff: When we build a store, we want it to last for 50 years; that’s the goal. So when we finish construction, we hand it over to a team that will maintain the facility over its lifetime. 

Now, the way they use construction data is two-fold. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we monitor how many warranty items are reported and what kind of warranty items they are seeing during normal operation. And we bring those items back and we aggregate that data back to the construction team. We then go back upstream all the way to the design source of truth and relay the data to make meaningful improvements so that we can serve our clients better and better over time. 

So for an example, let’s say in 2020, 12% of hypothetical warranty items reported in the first year are electrical in nature, and they have to do with breakers. Well, that’s pretty important data. How can we share that data with the design team so that they can look at it and figure out what the root issue is? That way, they can determine meaningful solutions to the root issue and continuously improve the design for the next wave of construction projects. 

This feedback loop enables us to keep getting better each and every time we build something and to show care for the Superintendents that do such amazing work.

Glen: Data, to me, is a very generic term. It could be a defined set of PDFs every single time, all the way down to “I want to know exactly how much concrete is in my tilt-up panels.” 

Because we were previously getting such inconsistent data, we had to control it. We had to put it back into our lap and define every single thing they do. 

Now that we have all of the design and the data we need, we’re starting to standardize. The goal is when we move into construction, our contractors are getting the same information, the same way, every single time. 

The idea is that we set that up as it starts moving into operations. We can say, “This is your typical handover every single time.” 

One of the challenges we face here at Prologis is that a lot of our departments request specific data points that could be very building specific. With our new systems in place, we can provide that information faster such as the number of overhead doors, clear height, floor elevations and/or number of parking spaces etc. This is why we focused heavily on standardization so that information can be extracted easier and faster for those departments and because we can now get that information, it makes everything easier for all users through design, internal Prologis team members, construction, and going into operations.

Register for Our Upcoming Webinar

Jeff and Glen have a tremendous amount of information to share on how they’re using technology to involve themselves more in the construction process and how to improve the handover to operations.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch them live on April 22nd. Register for Autodesk’s webinar and we’ll see you there!

REGISTER NOW

The post How Owners Can Improve Profitability and Efficiency Using Construction Technology appeared first on Digital Builder.

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