A “Perfect Storm” for AEC Industry Transformation

By Akio


Click to TweetClick to Tweet: A “Perfect Storm”
for #AEC Industry Transformation

It’s no secret that the AEC industry is suffering from a surplus of waste: wasted materials, wasted time spent on rework and change orders, waste from highly fragmented processes.

However, what the industry is beginning to realize is that it’s not the first group to think, There must be a better way.

The aerospace industry is one recent example; in the 1990s, companies such as Boeing began to look at technologies and processes used in other industries to tighten their supply chain and manufacturing processes. A switch to all-digital modeling made this possible.

Also necessary was a switch in mindset. Aerospace professionals had to switch their thinking from “project” to “product,” and adopt product lifecycle management tools that would deliver increased value to the end-user.

With these 2 steps, AEC professionals can likewise optimize their processes:

Step 1. Adopting Revised Business Models

According to Hector Lorenzo Camps, founder of PHI Cubed Inc., the industry is looking for ways to improve, but to truly move forward will first have to revise its compensation and business models.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “To move forward, #AEC industry
1st must revise its comp & business models” @HectorCamps

Although design-build contracts are increasingly popular, there remains too little true partnership among all parties involved in the design, construction and operations processes.

Today’s typical contracts emphasize distinct roles for all players in order to help control liability.

“Many relationships in the industry are strained because of the adversarial nature of the industry standard contracts that pin professionals against each other to divide risk,” Camps says.

New collaborative forms of agreement—namely, Integrated Project Delivery—remain slow to take off as AEC professionals explore new liability rules and shift from a “best for me” to a “best for project” mentality.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: #AEC is shifting (slowly) from
“best for me” to “best for project” mentality.

Tied to this need to collaborate is another necessary step for AEC professionals: the need to shake their reliance on a 2D, paper-based management process.

Step 2. Adopting Tools for Better Integration

Until all industry players make the switch to 3D processes, there will be a problem with what Camps calls “two versions of the truth with documentation, one in 2D and the other in 3D.”

Many firms are working with a mix of 2D CAD and 3D BIM to accommodate all parties’ preferences.

“Contractually, firms go with the 2D documents, which often are obsolete and predate the model. Builders under pressure, wanting to build from the best available data, are asking to build from the model and produce 2D documents after,” Camps says. “The coordinated model needs to drive the dimensional and informational control of the project and the field implementation documents. The contractual language needs to reflect this.”

Camps believes owners—who ultimately stand to gain the most from collaborative projects—will drive this evolution to 3D.

“All they need to do is write into their contracts the information management strategy. As long as the roles, responsibilities and use case for information are defined, and intellectual property is dealt with, they should have no problem getting professionals to deliver digital documents,” he says.

Why Now Is The Time For Change

The good news? The AEC industry is already beginning to adopt the tools and processes that will make transformation possible.

“We have the perfect storm for real industry transformation as significant as the industrial revolution,” Camps predicts.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: .@HectorCamps predicts a “perfect storm
for #AEC transformation as significant as #IndustrialRevolution”

First, AEC professionals are beginning to borrow concepts from manufacturing. To further reduce waste and improve quality, the industry is looking to close the gap between design and fabrication. Lean construction is one such effort, as the industry attacks waste by taking lessons learned from Lean Manufacturing and Just in Time delivery models.

Second, Camps points to a number of technology solutions becoming available that may further speed improvement.

For example, the advent of cloud computing is making it easier than ever for all players to work together in a more tightly connected process.

As Camps points out, AEC companies generally have far fewer employees than manufacturing industries, making it potentially more difficult to invest in an expensive data management system. Cloud computing can allow even small firms to participate in building lifecycle management without having to invest in prohibitively expensive data management systems.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Cloud computing allows small firms to
participate in #BLM without investing in expensive systems

By putting data on the cloud, it’s also typically easier for various parties to share data and resources related to a project.

“This ad hoc approach to PLM makes it very easy for the AEC industry to adopt the benefits of integration and collaboration without all the forward structuring that would happen if they had to form a unique corporation in order to integrate their processes,” Camps says.

In addition, the Internet of Things is making it easier to move digital models from the drawing table to the field, giving contractors and designers rapid insight into potential problems. And Camps even points to rapid manufacturing, such as 3D printing, as a potentially promising technology for optimization, as these tools could someday make it possible to produce one off building components while maintaining the economies of scale of standard offsite production facilities.

Beyond technology, however, today’s growing engagement from public owners looking to spend more wisely is invigorating further innovation in connectedness.

The most carefully watched case in point is the UK’s Level 2 BIM requirement for federal buildings, set to become effective in 2016.

“It’s expected that by 2019, BIM Level 3 will be required. Level 3 in essence is ‘full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository,’” Camps says.

He adds, “By that definition, they just described the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.”

Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

Spotlight on PHI Cubed: Guiding the AEC Industry Toward Greater Levels of Integration

Spotlight on MEMKO: Pushing Collaboration Across the Project Life Cycle to Revolutionize Design and Construction

Spotlight on Impararia: Reducing the Gap Between Aerospace Optimization and AEC Inefficiency

Taking the high road

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar


Roads are not just a way to get from A to B. They change how the land is used, especially in rural areas, and can transform lives and livelihoods. But “more” is not always “better.”

Roads allow people to reach health centers, schools and markets, which produces healthier, more skilled citizens, and in turn generates trade, jobs and economic growth. Roads can also lower food and other prices, and cut waste. Indeed, a paved road can halve the chances of spoilage, by getting fresh food to market quicker. According to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a $239 billion investment in roads (as well as rail and electricity networks) in developing markets over the next 15 years could eliminate $3.1 trillion in food waste.

Yet about 1.2 billion people worldwide still lack access to an all-weather road, according to the World Bank. That is changing rapidly. Roads are being built at an unprecedented pace: 25 million kilometers of paved thoroughfares are expected to be built by 2050—enough to circle the Earth 600 times, says William Laurance, research professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and director of its Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science.

But are these roads being built where they are most needed?

We need to focus on roads within a few hours of cities, where most land is settled, agriculture is inefficient and there’s a lot of wastage getting crops to urban markets,” Dr. Laurance says.

“The place NOT to build roads is in the last wilderness areas,” he adds. “The first cut is the deepest. Deforestation is like cancer, and a road is the first tumor.”

iStock_000071608141_SmallThe United Nations estimates that 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, producing 12% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions—and roads make things worse. A study of Brazil’s Amazon basin found that for every kilometer of legal road, there are three kilometers of illegal roads, and that 95% of deforestation occurs within 5.5 kilometers of roads.

Even with positive initiatives such as the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, good intentions in one area can backfire in another. Consider, for example, efforts to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people without power. This can improve health by keeping food and medicine fresh, and reduce poverty by boosting economic development. Moreover, electricity from hydroelectric dams doesn’t directly emit greenhouse gases. Currently, 3,700 hydroelectric dams bigger than one megawatt are under construction globally, mostly in developing countries.

However, besides flooding large areas of land, remote dams also require new road networks for passing power lines and for maintenance, Dr. Laurance says. And once roads are built into forests, logging, land speculation, illegal mining, poaching, farming and other activities tend to follow.

“It isn’t the project itself. It’s the secondary impacts of all the road building that causes the biggest damage,” he says.

iStock_000063980733_SmallIn March 2015, Foundation Earth, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank, wrote to the Group of 20 (G-20) major nations urging their leaders to avoid the kind of large infrastructure projects that lock in emissions and environmental damage seen in past developments.

“We need full cost accounting, to disclose externalities—the pollution—and that’s not done now,” says Randy Hayes, Foundation Earth’s executive director.

He proposes three categories for land development: “no go” zones, which should exclude development on biodiversity and other environmental grounds; “go” zones, developed areas that would benefit from more roads; and “careful” zones that include biodiversity and economic activity, where selective infrastructure development might be beneficial.

For example, Costa Rica integrated its national parks via corridors for animal (rather than human) migration. The country’s “biodiversity and restoration go hand in hand with economic development,” he says.

Dr. Laurance and his colleagues believe similar can be achieved if nine steps for navigating conflicts between ecological and economic interests are followed:

  1. Avoid the “first cut” in forests and wilderness areas.
  2. Recognize how paving existing roads will change their character and speed.
  3. Consider indirect costs, especially in energy and mining projects.
  4. Treat projects in the wilderness as “offshore,” and rely on river or helicopter access.
  5. Engage all parties early in the planning process, when changes are easier to make.
  6. Improve project evaluation tools.
  7. Include environmental and social experts alongside the financial teams.
  8. Reject arguments that harmful projects will be done regardless and without supervision.
  9. Involve non-governmental organizations and the public.

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group Brings Information-Based Approach to Civil Engineering Projects

By Akio

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group
brings info-based approach to #CivilEngineering”

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group has implemented “advanced construction process simulation methods” with the Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience.

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Shanghai Construction Group. The firm has 1,680 employees and is focused on foundation engineering, constructing harbors, bridges, tunnels, and other large structures.

Highly regarded through the construction industry globally, Shanghai Construction Group has built a large number of important, iconic and award-winning projects, all using the latest technologies. To ensure leadership in professional construction technology, the company and its subsidiaries are committed to the pursuit of excellence, continuous innovation in research and development, and rigorous project and process management approaches.

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group conducts a wide range of business activities and face many challenges in the execution of the firm’s construction projects.

“There have been no successful examples of combining information in the civil engineering industry. We hope to instigate our new information-based approach to improve the integration of our stakeholders and increase project management efficiency,” says Yu Zhendong, BIM Institute Director, Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group, Co. Ltd.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “SFEG applies data-driven solution to #civilengineering
projects to improve stakeholder integration & efficiency”

Chenta Bridge Project

Photo Credit: Yang Hui/Global Times

(Construction workers complete the last plat for the Chenta Bridge.
Photo credit: Yang Hui/Global Times)

Using advanced methods, Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group constructed the Chenta Bridge. This was an extremely challenging project, with high complexity and a need for integration among stakeholders and schedules. It led the firm to adopt the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The entire construction process of the Chenta Bridge was implemented in advance through simulations. The team used CATIA to model the entire bridge, based on CATIA design template and parametric modeling.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “The entire #ChentaBridge
construction process was simulated in advance”

Watch this video to learn more about Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group’s Chenta Bridge project:

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group created a framework-driven concept, using actual measured data as inputs to update the model. This way, the digital models would be exactly as same as the real product, based on data obtained from actual onsite measurements.

Identify Potential Risks Early

Comparing the actual model with the original design model allowed them to detect potential risks visually, early in the process.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Comparing construction #simulation to
original model = potential risks detected early in process”

They included all of the critical construction equipment in the model. For example, the scaffolding on the main tower and the cradle platforms. Throughout this process, the equipment, the scene layout, and the design structure were closely linked and interconnected, providing a comprehensive view of this complex project.

“This is one of the main benefits of using Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience,” adds Zhendong. “It allowed us to create a full simulation of the entire construction scheme. It made the entire process more intuitive. From a long-term perspective, the 3D information database management deeply integrated within our projects greatly benefits our entire project management process.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “#OptimizedPlanning creates full simulation
of construction scheme, benefits entire #PM process”

Related Resources

Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction from Dassault Systèmes

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group

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