News & Insights

Digital Construction toolkit launch – Operation First

INSIGHTS

Lee Ramsey – design management and BIM director, Morgan Sindall Construction

As part of the launch of our digital construction toolkit for clients, this blog series will examine the outcomes and benefits that digital construction provides during each stage of the lifecycle of a project – design, build and operate.

This toolkit will also serve as a crucial resource for government clients in responding to the Construction 2025 strategy and support the delivery of lower construction costs, faster delivery and lower emissions. In the first blog, we look at the stage that perhaps a lot of people do not consider when they imagine the use of digital construction on a project – operation. By starting the series in reverse order, we hope to challenge people’s perceptions about the role of digital construction and provide an insight into why this is the stage when technology truly comes into its own.

Ask most people what they think of when they picture the use of digital construction and it is more likely to include reference to a 3D model and VR goggles rather than the generation and management of information on a project during its entire life cycle to create digital and built assets.

While those aspects are hugely important in the creation of quality buildings, the use of digital construction comes into its own once the building is handed over and the client receives the golden thread of information that allows superior management and oversight, providing critical information and valuable asset data to effectively operate the building in question.

Starting with the end in sight

To appreciate fully where digital construction adds most value, instead of ‘diving-in’ to the design, the most successful projects start with the end in mind with an understanding that the vast majority of the whole life cycle spend is experienced during the operational stage.

Typical life-cycle of cost of a building

 

What makes digital construction so useful for facilities managers and other members of the operations team is that it combines all relevant pieces of project data into a single platform.

We hand over two buildings at the end of the build stage, one physical and one digital.

The digital twin has a wealth of information included, such as operating instructions, repair and maintenance schedules, the life expectancy of components and other elements of the building and much more.

Facilitating understanding

In order to understand how digital construction is currently being used across the built environment, we recently undertook research in which we spoke to those involved with each stage of digital construction on a project – design, build and operate.

Our research showed that many respondents felt that for the reasons previously mentioned digital construction really reaches its potential during the operational stage. Having a validated common dataset of all aspects of the build held in one place results in better quality data, and therefore better operated buildings with reduced spend on maintenance and better ability to monitor performance, meaning components can be replaced before they fail.

However, more data does not necessarily equate to better results and can potentially lead to information overload. Therefore our focus is on maintainable assets and providing the key data that is required, rather than every single piece of information that is available. This helps to create a robust legacy for clients and operators of the buildings, with a dataset of high quality and value that is easy to manage once the building is handed over.

This preventative maintenance in turn results in a reduction in carbon emissions and energy consumed as a result of less journeys to site to inspect or replace items as information can be accessed remotely. A wealth of data on maintainable assets is readily available to aid the running of the building at optimum levels, streamlining energy costs.

One respondent to our survey said: “The asset information platform is of great benefit to me and my team in running the building. All the information is readily available and the speed at which the information can be extracted is head and shoulders quicker than the existing manuals.”

Overcoming barriers

However, many also felt that asset data was not utilised to its full advantage during this stage. One of the reasons for this is that facilities managers are not always incorporated at the briefing phase of project. By getting their input before the design stage, it would ensure that they are fully aware of the benefits the technology can bring, and wider adoption would be inevitable.
It’s not just facilities managers either – sometimes senior management at organisations are unaware of the operational benefits of digital construction, and so are not specifying it on their projects.

Peruse the menu

It’s for that reason that we’ve developed our toolkit. As a starting point we have created a menu of potential outcomes and benefits to select from at the briefing stage of a project or framework. This menu is split into the operate, build and design stages of a building. It captures the key client drivers and ensures that they are at the forefront before the design is developed and are carried through into the construction phase.

Table from Morgan Sindall Construction BIM brochure

 

Operational excellence

Our operational menu details all the benefits of digital construction in the operation stage and how to access them. As part of the briefing phase, clients can be walked through how best to use the operations and maintenance information, building user guide, compliance certificates, and training videos. This allows the information to be examined in a more efficient manner, remotely if required, allowing any issues to be resolved quickly.

As a consequence, there is a reduced need for retraining or delays in sourcing essential component information, and staff feel at home in their new building faster with an increased sense of ownership. Our menu of outcomes and benefits to inform the brief for a project is the first step in making this process a reality.

Morgan Sindall Construction’s operation menu not only provides practical application of digital construction, but also compellingly explains its value and what is possible before opportunities to implement this approach have passed by. The menu serves as a persuasive tool to highlight the vast benefits and the potential for whole life value that can be realised.

If you’d like to find out more about our approach to digital construction or have any questions, please email digital.construction@morgansindall.com.

Next: In the next series of these blogs, we’ll be looking at the benefits that digital construction bring to clients during the build stage, and how world class buildings can be delivered with ultimate confidence in quality, safety and delivery.

For more information about this news release please contact Tom Carlin at Influential on 0151 804 1400 or email carlin@thisisinfluential.com.