Category: Construction Projects

November’s Nonresidential Construction Starts +2% M/M, -8% Y/Y, & -2% YTD

November Light on Megaprojects

ConstructConnect announced today that November 2021’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $30.4 billion (see shaded green box, bottom of Table 8 below), an increase of +1.7% compared with October 2021’s level of $29.9 billion (originally reported as $28.8 billion).

Khatib & Alami Achieves Time Savings of up to 40% Through a Cloud Collaboration Strategy

Khatib & Alami (K&A) is a multidisciplinary urban and regional planning, architectural and engineering consulting company operating across the Middle East, Africa, South-East Asia and Europe. With more than five decades of experience and expertise within the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, K&A have worked on some of the world’s most challenging projects.

Identifying challenges and finding solutions

As a sector that has seen its greatest evolutions in the past decade, K&A were amongst the first companies to truly adopt digital and BIM as part of its bid to be more time and cost efficient, while providing a higher standard of output for its clients. As a major multinational working on a range of multidisciplinary projects, K&A are required to collaborate with multiple different stakeholders both internally and externally. They recognised that they would need to centralise project data and create one single source of truth when it comes to project documentation to support them in managing the sheer volume and range of ongoing projects across their many different design centres. This would mean their project teams would reduce the amount of time they spent searching for, uploading, and downloading project information. They also wanted to reduce their dependency on local servers and move to a way of working that would enable them to form more collaborative partnerships with their supply chain partners.

By leveraging cloud collaboration, centralised and consolidated data for each project was open to the full range of necessary stakeholders, which in some cases went as high as 200 project team members across a number of different organisations. As a result, knowledge sharing and a comprehensive understanding of cloud collaboration and its features became more intrinsically linked to K&A’s culture. Dr. Ahmad Faeq, Senior Director for Projects Knowledge Management and Operational Excellence reflects:

“Since we started the transition to digital, we embedded technology implementation as part of our knowledge management. Based on this, we created communities of practice which became the platform to train our teams how to use cloud collaboration tools more effectively. As a result, knowledge management is now at the heart of the company, which interconnects with everything else.”

For many companies, the concept of working remotely was only implemented because of the pandemic. For K&A, however, its early-stage adoption of BIM, coupled with their multinational design centers in Cairo, Beirut, UAE and Bangalore, meant that remote working was already well underway.

“We were already using Autodesk’s Construction Cloud remotely to drive strong collaboration between our design centres, so it was a fairly smooth step when the transition to work from home became necessary,” commented Micheline Nader, Senior Project Engineer, BIM manager – road & highways.

“Before cloud collaboration tools, you were unable to work from home or remotely effectively. If we were required to do either, we were unable to access the same model, meaning any changes made would have to be saved and pasted onto the local server the following day,” recalled Yasmina Kridly, BIM Manager and Design Architect. “Since implementing Autodesk’s cloud solutions, our team can access the same model in real time, a feature that has given us a strategic advantage during the pandemic. Overall, it has enhanced our troubleshooting and submission processes by up to 90%.”

Where previous work required printed PDFs and stacks of paper stored across several locations, the integration of working in a cloud environment not only meant a faster, more centralised way to share accurate data, but an environmentally-friendly reduction in year-on-year printing from 2019 – 2020 by around 50 – 60%.

Collaboration as standard – promoting team-centric execution and culture

Thanks to K&A’s existing movement towards digital infrastructure, and spurred on by the pandemic, cloud collaboration soon played a centralised role in several projects resulting in K&A investing in more licenses and company-wide familiarisation.

“As the benefits of Autodesk Construction Cloud are significant, it is now mandated that all projects are stored on the cloud, regardless of scale or value. As one source of information, for each project, all design documents are stored in our common data environment for shared use, following ISO 19650 workflow. The client and stakeholders also have access to the project in a digital environment, which means the client can follow the work-in-progress model and provide feedback at an early stage,” commented Micheline Nader.

BIM – the foundation of technological progress

For Dr. Ahmad Faeq, the value of Autodesk’s Cloud solutions extend beyond traditional training and into a new era of ongoing development. “When we talk about BIM as the new standard, this is what I consider our first step. From here we’re able to build and develop. For example, we’re working on BIM and GIS integration to create what we call smart city management, where we link BIM with IoTs to create command centres for clients and landlords to monitor and manage their facilities during and after the construction projects. The ceiling isn’t fixed for us, so we will keep adding the technological components day after day.”

One of the challenges presented by the pandemic was the requirement to migrate project data into Autodesk’s cloud solutions for ease of development between parties, which simultaneously occurred while hiring new staff to cater for the demand. Fortunately, the data migration worked seamlessly, as did the adoption of the new staff who were able to familiarise themselves with the software and functionality.

Cited as one of the main reasons Autodesk Construction Cloud succeeded in reaching such a fast user-adoption rate is its carefully designed user interface, user experience and supplemental training provided by Autodesk. Reflecting on her earlier experiences with some predecessors of cloud solutions, Yasmina Kridly commented, “Since we started working with Revit more than a decade ago, every Autodesk product has consistently become more intuitive and mature, with a strong focus on the user experience.  This is a feature which has been carried forward into Autodesk’s Construction Cloud solutions. While many other platforms require special training or expert advice, you are quickly able to get used to Autodesk Construction Cloud, even after using it for only a few hours.”


Enhanced productivity through digital collaboration

From a high-level perspective, Autodesk Construction Cloud’s ability to provide a collaborative platform for teams to interact and deliver has had a unifying effect on K&A’s teamwork culture, as highlighted by Dr. Ahmad. “Autodesk Construction Cloud was one of the tools we used to fortify and strengthen the communication within the project teams. This is where the real production of our investments happened.”

This sentiment is echoed by Yasmina Kridly: “The integration of Autodesk Construction Cloud has made a huge difference. Firstly, you can access it anywhere in the world. Secondly, we save a lot of time in transferring data between design centres. Today, I’m able to review and comment on documents immediately, meaning we’re saving a significant number of working hours as a business. This was all made possible thanks to the quick responses of the Autodesk team. Whenever we had a question, there was a solution suggested by the Autodesk team. When we first started using Autodesk Construction Cloud, it didn’t have all the features it has today. Through our team making suggestions, Autodesk were very quick to implement improvements and we’ve been able to fine tune our common data environment to be perfectly suited to our exacting requirements. One of the most useful was enabling real-time cloud collaboration during the design process, a feature that saves our team between 30 – 40% in time efficiency.”

Elaborating further, Dr. Ahmad added, “For a company like K&A where time is highly valuable, the saving of 30 – 40% isn’t just a win for the projects in hand, but also for the company which can utilise its skilled teams on other projects. Certainly, Autodesk Construction Cloud, along with our digitally enabled internal environment, has been a major driver in our digital transformation, which has been great for our productivity as a business.”

“Autodesk Construction Cloud is our solution for collaboration.”

—Micheline Nader, Sr. Project Engineer, BIM manager, Khatib & Alami

Summarising her experience, Micheline Nader commented, “Utilising Autodesk Construction Cloud has significantly improved decision-making and project performance leading to reliable, clash-free, sustainable projects that benefit from low maintenance costs, risks, and higher revenue streams. It has become a lifeline for using data, consuming content and engaging in digital applications.”

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ANZ Infrastructure Industry Well-Positioned to Meet 2030 Benchmarks and Achieve Net Zero by 2050

In a first-time collaboration Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), Australian Constructors AssociationConsult Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council have released a joint report to support industry in accelerating a net zero future through the design and construction of the infrastructure pipeline. 

The report, A net-zero future delivered through our infrastructure pipeline, signals that a whole-of-business, systems-based approach across asset lifecycles is required to accelerate the journey to net zero. This includes pulling key levers such as procurement, materials, methodologies, technology and people capability.  

Jon Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Constructors Association said, “The record investment in infrastructure creates opportunities for the construction industry to be part of the solution to net zero. 

“We all have a role to play, and it must be performed in partnership. The report sets out the options and enablers for government and industry to use in mapping the path to low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure,” said Mr Davies.    

Although the industry has a significant footprint it has already started to demonstrate the influence it can have on the reduction of emissions said Ainsley Simpson, CEO, Infrastructure Sustainability Council.  

“The 24 As-Built Projects certified over the last four years by the Infrastructure Sustainability Rating Scheme reduced their whole of lifecyle emissions by 26.5 million tonnes of CO2e, which is equivalent to the 26 CO2e saved by the whole Australian economy in 2020,” said Ms Simpson. 

There are many tools identified in the report which also map key enabling levers against asset lifecycle phase, as well as a net-zero delivery model to prompt and guide decision-making – from rethinking and redefining problems and solutions through to reducing carbon intensive materials and ensuring regenerative approaches are integrated in asset design and construction. 

The report also presents real-world case studies to inspire project teams to utilise, adapt, scale and accelerate further innovation.  Technology is also identified as a key enabler of decarbonisation. 

Andy Cunningham, ANZ Regional Director, Autodesk, said technology supports the infrastructure industry with the tools they need to unlock insights, make better decisions, and achieve superior outcomes.  

“Software helps automate complex processes and transform data into actionable insights that empower innovators to improve the impact of everything they design, make, own, and operate. Cloud solutions and connected data environments fuel innovation—across technology, processes, supply chains, and industries. This opportunity is only accelerating,” said Mr Cunningham. 

The release of the framework follows the COP26 climate talks which called for accelerated decarbonisation before 2030 to keep global temperature within 2-degree limits, and preferably to 1.5 degrees. 

“Strong leadership and collaboration across the industry is going to be required to achieve accelerated net zero and keep our sector globally competitive,’’ said Nicola Grayson, CEO of Consult Australia.  

“Net zero is a shared responsibility. Through the collective members of the Australian Constructors Association, Consult Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, in collaboration with Autodesk, we are committed to working with industry and government stakeholders to drive the continuous improvement required to achieve this shared outcome. We look forward to working together to take action at scale and at pace,’’ concluded Ms Grayson. 

The report is available for download here.

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Did you miss our previous article…

How to Build a Business Case for a Better Data Strategy

Fewer cost overruns, fewer missed schedules, fewer safety incidents – the benefits of using quality data to inform decisions in construction projects are many. 

“We are using project data to alert us to things before a problem arises,” one BIM coordinator surveyed for Autodesk Construction Cloud’s recently released global report Harnessing The Data Advantage In Construction told us. 

“For example, we can track the number of encountered defects. We know once they exceed a certain number the schedule is going to be delayed. Having these insights allows us to address things when we can still do something about them.” 

Our research found the construction industry is collecting more data than ever before but many are struggling to translate raw data into actionable insight. 

In many cases, what is missing is the clear overarching data strategy, encompassing how data is collected, analysed and acted on. 

Bad data has clear costs – our research found it caused 40% of the average construction firm’s poor decisions. Despite this, many of the more than 3,900 construction industry professionals we interviewed listed multiple roadblocks to establishing a formal data strategy. 

Of those without one, the chief reasons why were: 

  • Not knowing where to start 
  • Lack of leadership and organisational support
  • The cost and resources required. 

So, how can the motivation and momentum needed to  better harness data be built? 


Opening the black box

As useful as knowing where your destination is, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t also know where you currently are. That’s why a good place to start is with a software audit.  

When we speak with potential clients and ask what they’re doing with their current software and why, they often don’t know. It’s a ‘black box’, they tell us.  

It’s difficult to compare what benefits a new approach would bring if it’s not clear how the current approach is functioning. 

A basic software audit can give decision makers a better understanding of where they are at right now including what their systems are capable of doing, and how they’re being used. That, in itself, can be a revelation to many organisations as they start to map a smarter way forward. 

Once an audit has been completed, processes can be benchmarked and compared against the concrete benefits of making a switch. 


Engage the right stakeholders

Next, a broad and diverse group of people from within and around the organisation should be convened to help guide the process. This group should represent all stakeholders and potential data users – including major suppliers and contractors. 

Their first job is to come together with decision makers to discuss how they currently make decisions and where their frustrations lie. 

  • Where can manual, repetitive and time-consuming tasks be automated? 
  • What is it that slows decision-making down? 
  • Where are each department’s blind spots in terms of data? 
  • Where is data held and who can see it? 
  • What should be defined as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ data? 
  • In what situations are people relying on ‘experience’ and ‘know-how’ rather than accurate, real-time data to make decisions or implement changes? 
  • This can be an eye-opening process as there are always frustrations. Staff have been using technology in their private lives for long enough to know when the systems they’re using at work are inefficient. 

It’s important to consider even the little things that can introduce errors. One CIO, during the research for the Harnessing The Data Advantage In Construction report, told us, “When we started to review the quality of our data, we encountered no fewer than 20 different spellings for the same supplier.”  

All of this gets in the way of developing data you can trust and base important decisions on. 

At this stage, the group is in a discovery period, learning from each other the benefits to be had from a smart data strategy.  

The outcome here should be a clear understanding and prioritisation of the data categories and data capabilities that could alleviate the issues identified. 


Imagine the future

It’s normal for a project manager to understand where a specific project is at. But it’s rare for a business executive to have the confidence to say they know for sure that a specific project is on schedule, on budget, has particular challenges that need to be solved, etc. 

Executives in businesses that have smart data strategies can say this, and much more. 

Data-driven systems offer such powerful insights that it can be quite a mental leap to imagine their business uses. Many organisations continue to discover new and exciting use cases for their data years after the system has been implemented. 

First and foremost, it’s vital to develop buy-in. This means teams and individuals at all levels should be able to fully appreciate how a data strategy will make their jobs better, and make them better at their jobs. 

“You have to take a human-centric approach,” a Senior Digital Delivery Manager told us. “You have to show them that you are reducing the amount of time wasted for them personally. 

“If you are cutting down on their work by reducing time spent on administrative tasks, people are more likely to make the transformation.”  


Take small steps

Building a wall begins with putting a single brick in place, not placing all the bricks in a single movement. The same principle applies to instituting a successful data strategy. A successful pilot project will demonstrate the benefits better than any PowerPoint deck.  

By focusing on the project data that you know can bring the most value to the business, you will be able to demonstrate results and return on investment quickly. And good data platforms are modular and easy to integrate, meaning elements can be introduced one at a time.  

Best practice is not to change anything mid-project. Start with a new project and compare results with another project that is still using traditional methods. The more clearly you can quantify the benefits, the smoother the introduction of a full data strategy will be. 


Ready for what comes next

It is vital for the future of many organisations that a strong business case is created.  

Up against challenges such as the labour shortage, ever more aggressive schedules, greater quality assurance expectations, more competitive bidding processes, sustainability pressures and more, the insight offered by a strong data strategy is a powerful driver of performance. 

To learn more about how your competitors are making use of data, download the Autodesk/FMI Harnessing The Data Advantage In Construction report. 

The post How to Build a Business Case for a Better Data Strategy appeared first on Digital Builder.

A Return to ‘Acceptable’ U.S. Jobs Report for October; Canada’s Also Okay

The U.S. total jobs increase in October was +531,000 according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A gain of more than half a million would have been met with cheering in any month prior to the pandemic. And it’s better than September’s +312,000 and August’s +483,000. But it still leaves total employment in the U.S. significantly below where it was in February 2020, just before COVID-19 touched down.

October’s Nonresidential Construction Starts -26% M/M, -9% Y/Y & -2% YTD

October Handicapped by September’s Strength

ConstructConnect announced today that October 2021’s volume of construction starts, excluding residential work, was $28.8 billion (see shaded green box, bottom of Table 8 below), a decrease of -25.6% compared with September 2021’s level of $38.7 billion (originally reported as $38.0 billion).

Did you miss our previous article…