Digital technologies have transformed entire industries in the last decade, impacting lives on both personal and professional fronts. Companies have had to reinvent themselves to evolve with the times, enhancing productivity, sustainability and adaptability, all in order to stay relevant to their target audience. Interestingly, however, firms within the engineering and construction (E&C) industry have for the most part bucked this trend and retained a majority of the trade’s traditional methods.
According to the World Economic Forum1, the E&C industry continues to operate today as it has for the past 50 years, heavily relying on manual labor, mechanical technologies and legacy business models. The lack of productivity growth remains prevalent throughout the industry, leading to delays in the completion of projects and material wastages, which affect project bottom lines significantly.
The industry’s underinvestment in digitalization has had a profound impact on productivity. Firms are held hostage to issues such as manpower challenges (with manual data tracking and verification) and the need for re-work due to an inability to accurately track project progression. That said, the increasing complexity of building designs coupled with a severe shortage of skilled workers have accelerated the digital push, especially for companies that want to stay relevant and profitable.
An easy way for E&C industry players to visualize benefits of digitalization is to picture the conventional construction lifecycle taking on a digital form, where real-time information of a project is readily available to all stakeholders on a single platform. Right from the design phase through build and operate phases, a project is clearly laid out and its progress can be tracked. The data transparency enables teams to collaborate effectively, allows foremen to identify and manage issues early and helps owners monitor project safety. Based on The Boston Consulting Group’s research2, a full-scale digitalization across the E&C industry can generate an estimated value of $1.0 to $1.7 trillion in annual cost savings.
In the same vein, McKinsey & Company3 advocates improving the value of capital projects through more efficient spending. By integrating specific tools and practices, project owners have historically managed to realize better project value of more than 10% in savings — either by reducing the project’s capital or operating expenditure; increasing its output; or accelerating its completion date so profits can be achieved earlier.
The next question, naturally, is whether there are solutions in the market to support the E&C industry’s digitalization efforts.
Enabling an Informed Construction Lifecycle
Enter the idea of Traceable Construction™ by FARO, an approach that leverages the availability of accurate data throughout various stages of construction.
In the E&C industry context, the traceability concept functions rather similarly as it describes how one can follow through on a building’s complete lifecycle — whether in the design, build, or operate phase. Across any building’s lifecycle, there are five typical aspects to traceable construction that may be relevant at any given point in time.
The basis of an informed construction lifecycle is accurate and reliable 3D data. Today, there are ultra-portable laser scanners and intuitive data processing software that work seamlessly together to enable quick and easy acquisition and registration of point cloud data. Project owners and managers have the option of choosing between terrestrial capture, mobile capture and airborne capture for various applications.
As-built Model & Design
By capturing as-built conditions, stakeholders can ensure a traceable conversion of scan data into BIM designs, for further planning and design of building projects based on the context of reality. High-speed, high-fidelity laser scanners, coupled with suitable processing software, enable fast and efficient creation of 2D, 3D and BIM models that can be fully integrated into major Autodesk Building design systems.
Conversely, subcontractors can employ laser projectors to visualize designs from CAD plans and models on real objects. This facilitates the prefabrication of components, increases the precision of installation and assembly, and allows users to identify deviations from CAD plans onto components (e.g. display of unevenness in the floor).
To ensure continuous quality control on construction sites, workflows need to quickly and precisely record current status, compare the status quo with CAD plans, and report any deviations. Foremen and site managers can rely on laser scanners to perform immediate, real-time build, and verify analysis throughout the entire project to improve efficiency, shorten timelines and reduce material wastage.
Data Connect & Share
With Cloud-based hosting solutions, project participants can share scan data easily and securely on standard file types and widely used platforms. The ‘single source of truth’ enables transparency and traceability on project progression at any stage.
Realize Greater Value with Traceable Construction™
Within the Traceable Construction framework, there are several practical ways that project owners can seek to realize tangible value improvement. Some applications that further elaborate its value include:
Application 1: Improving Construction Quality and Reducing Re-work
With traditional construction methods, site managers primarily record data with pen and paper. In this scenario, the information tends to be outdated and issues are typically uncovered only at a later stage. This results in the need for re-work and material wastage, and causes delay in timeline as well as decline in efficiency.
In comparison, with 3D digital methods, engineers and site managers can rely on laser scanners to capture a construction site completely and precisely. This real-time digital data can be continuously monitored and analyzed using data processing software, allowing any defects or non-conformity to surface more easily and quickly, which makes it possible for problems to be resolved earlier.
Application 2: Enabling Fast and Precise Assembly Without Templates
Using a 3D laser projection system, fabrication shops can speed up the assembly workflow for structural and prefabricated elements. Design data can be projected on to building components to enable large-scale laser guided assembly, offering a quick and accurate way to position these elements. It also eliminates the need for manual measurements and physical templates, which optimizes the use of manpower, time and budget.
Application 3: Maintaining a Clear Overview of As-Built Data Throughout Project Duration
Complete, efficient and accurate documentation of construction projects carried out at various stages of the construction process adds value to the delivery process and to the ‘as-built’ dataset. But even more valuable is the use of laser scanning in building supervision. Timely monitoring of construction progress is ensured by rapid recording of construction work. The data collected supports the precise positioning of formwork in concrete and columns in steel construction. In addition, it also serves to control construction work and to record progress, structural damage and health and safety compliance.
The E&C industry is now at the cusp of a new era. Reliable integrated solutions like FARO laser scanners and software platforms readily offer companies the opportunity to turn things around and implement digital strategies to their processes quickly and easily. Chances are, the firms who do so will likely emerge as leaders and have tangible first-mover advantage results to show for their efforts.
FARO is the world’s most trusted source for 3D measurement and imaging solutions. The Company develops and markets computer-aided measurement and imaging devices and software for the following vertical markets:
3D Manufacturing – High-precision 3D measurement, imaging and comparison of parts and complex structures within production and quality assurance processes
Construction BIM – 3D capture of as-built construction projects and factories to document complex structures and perform quality control, planning and preservation
Public Safety Forensics – Capture and analysis of on-site real world data to investigate crash, crime and fire, plan security activities and provide virtual reality training for public safety personnel
3D Design – Capture and edit part geometries or environments for design purposes in product development, computer graphics and dental and medical applications
Photonics – Develop and market galvanometer-based laser measurement products and solutions
FARO’s global headquarters is located in Lake Mary, Florida. The Company’s European regional headquarters is located in Stuttgart, Germany and its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters is located in Singapore. FARO has other offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands, Switzerland, India, China, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
More information is available at:
1 World Economic Forum, Shaping the Future of Construction: Future Scenarios and Implications for the Industry, March 2018
2 The Boston Consulting Group, Companies in the Engineering and Construction Industry Must Act Now to Avoid Future Disruption, 5 June 2018
3 McKinsey & Company, Capital project value improvement in the 21st century: Trillions of dollars in the offing, August 2018