After a decade of disruption, the construction industry has got used to short-term planning. So it should come as no surprise that built environment professionals are constantly looking for ways to minimize costs and achieve efficiencies for a smooth build and maximum ROI.
While cost, time, and quality are important criteria, they are not the only ways that long-term value can or should be measured.
In addition, important but less obvious goals, particularly those related to safety, sustainability and long-term viability, are often overlooked, which can negatively impact the customer and the end user. Ultimately, this means that projects fail to reach their full potential and systematically “devalue” it. It’s a totally avoidable situation.
For this reason, the Construction Innovation Hub launched the “Value Toolkit”: an initiative that aims to change the way the sector thinks and measures value.
It provides a broader definition that goes beyond the design and construction phases and refers to the life of the development in order to understand its total value. From a civil engineering perspective, this could include the latest SUDS to better manage surface water runoff from urban environments by default. This immediately increases the “green” value of the project by providing efficient drainage and rainwater harvesting for agricultural or domestic use.
The toolkit is currently in the pilot phase and will help make more coherent and smarter value-based decisions throughout the planning and construction path. It’s a welcome and long-awaited framework that will help all construction workers do better.
There is still work to be done to meet the goals set out in the toolkit. However, I believe that technology is the key to success.
The challenges of building are myriad, from a lack of organizational memory and isolated work environments to a controversial culture with low profit margins.
This manifests itself in a counterproductive, professional determination and has led to a selfish situation in which each party works according to its own agenda and goals. It creates a stagnant island situation where collaboration should exist, obscuring the overall picture and value of their work.
The sluggish digital acceptance also hinders progress. Many companies still stick to traditional practices, hinder progress and leave room for error. This inherently limits the extent to which real “value” can be provided.
One such example is the persistence of physical recording and the use of outdated software such as Microsoft Excel and Dropbox that are both unsustainable and not fit for purpose.
The value in the Value Toolkit
The industry needs to change its approach to one that supports informed decisions and enables it to innovate towards a value system that is more than just profit-driven.
The new Construction Playbook emphasizes a broader approach to project evaluation by continually forecasting and measuring value performance over the life cycle. The Value Toolkit directly supports these goals and provides a way to achieve them.
It also means that engineers will soon be able to maximize value and leverage the skills and training required to achieve better social, environmental, and economic results.
Technology as a pioneer
The use of digital tools accelerates and amplifies this awareness-raising process, helping engineers leverage data and assess project value from the design phase to delivery and beyond.
A good example is the uncompromising security of end users. By using quality management modules such as those offered by Zutec, field teams working on projects can ensure compliance with design quality specifications. In addition, digitized QA / QC processes as well as troubleshooting and error management tools enable employees to work and collaborate on their mobile devices and adjust inspection processes.
It not only makes the construction trip more efficient, but also legally protects the practice and helps ensure the most secure environment for the end user.
Change the industry
The Value Toolkit is a seismic shift that will move the sector from a cost-driven to a value-driven shift for the benefit of society. It is intended to promote a new culture of professionalism.
Those who use the toolkit, especially in connection with digital solutions, can better understand the value of their projects and thus gain a significant competitive advantage
It’s an industry wake-up call, including civil engineers. Ultimately, practices without a digital transformation strategy or innovation plan are left behind in a developing market.
* Tom Boland is Global Head of Digitalization at Zutec
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