Change and Thrive: Take Advantage of Digital Transformation for your Operations

By Tadeh Hakopian, Design Technology Manager, HMC Architects

Tadeh Hakopian, Design Technology Manager, HMC Architects
Tadeh Hakopian, Design Technology Manager, HMC Architects
Remote work and social media have made technology not just another investment but the core of how we function. With all these tools at our disposal we must benefit from them as investments and pivot to a long-term strategy.
That also means a transition with progressive construction technology. Just because construction operates in the physical world does not divorce it from the digital realm. This transition can be a challenge, but it is possible. Here are some points I laid out for the big trends to plan for in Construction technology.
Cloud Practice
Everything is streaming digital content these days. The way you contact your colleagues through zoom with streaming video isn’t a world of difference from watching a streaming video from Netflix. Your company is likely using a cloud solution like Azure, AWS or have vendor products hosted on them. That means everyone has connection to digital devices.

Invest not only in these tools but also the strategy to plan for alignment between your cloud tools. In a remote setting it is easy to stay connected but hard to track what is going on. Create a practice of aligning technology, people and process into a cohesive plan or you will have a lot of redundancies and communication drops to deal with. This is as simple as getting a communications plan together and sticking to a single source of truth for schedules and file tracking.

Digital Twins
Buildings are not just static monoliths anymore. They operate with more connected equipment called IOT (Internet of Things) devices. This trend of using IOT devices and building model data culminates in the digital twin scenario like the new NFL Sofi Stadium.
Buildings can be embedded with IOT devices that can report in real time different streams of information including:
• Energy use
• Foot traffic
• Building visits
• Maintenance updates
• Security activity
• Occupant use information
All this information means data and data is the new currency these days and buildings producing an asset like that means being able to gain meaningful insights from the data. Insights like maintenance planning, occupancy expansion, energy efficiency and other relevant points to help manage a building. In order to create a viable digital twin you need an overarching strategy for the entire project. Goals, planning, project types, teams and expertise are all needed to achieve the Digital Twin. The benefit of it is data analysis for building performance metrics and real time information gathering.
To get there plan early and be prepared to collaborate on what it takes for all stakeholders from design to construction to make a digital twin scenario successful. If you are looking to make your building assets more connected then start with a roadmap of what you have, what you want to do and fill in the steps to get there. Consider getting a data analyst to assist you with the planning stages and guide the technical needs of creating a digital twin project.
VR/MR/AR/XR – all the R’s
Immersion will become a big part of the construction world. Remote site visits, VR model walkthroughs, design studies and scenario planning are all becoming a normal part of the design and construction process. You have probably tried out different hardware and software for virtual reality scenarios. Don’t just stop where you are in VR adoption now – there’s much more possible with it.
Safety is a growing concern on construction sites today and improved site safety can be achieved with VR systems to train staff in different virtual environments before they get onto the site as well as doing virtual site walkthroughs by a safety coordinator. You can also use VR to help coordinate a project design to construction using hardware like Oculus rift and clash coordination software to see the busts in the design. It is an investment up front but that can pay off down the road with gains improved safety and coordination results.
Make your own software
With all the software available these days it seems like overkill to make your own right? Well consider all the points I made above and how that will all play nice with your existing enterprise software suites. However now that you have all these tools the last thing you want to do is leave them in isolated silos.
There is a solution with low code. The low code and no code movement means you can create your own basic software and software integrations without having a whole developer staff. You may have heard of Grasshopper for Rhino and Dynamo for Revit which let you visually script a program that can create new tools and workflows that out of the box software doesn’t have a button for. Well take that idea further and you can create your own software for the entire company like a chatbot or a device app.
There is a lot of room for growth here and I recommend seeing what you can use in the low code scenario to make these integrations and new tools a reality in your organization.
Remote work, safety improvements, connected devices, business competition and cloud revolution have changed the way we work. That means the culture of work needs to adjust with technology but not for the sake of technology. It is to fulfill our own objectives. Whether it is to operate a zero-accident site, design a better living space, have data connected buildings or anything else. It is up to the organization and teams to create a process that incorporates the best tools out there to their imperatives and needs.
So, take advantage of these circumstances and rethink and reinvent the way you work and keep in mind the long-term planning for innovation to stay ahead of the curve in construction technology. Things will only keep changing but with a progressive mind for technology adoption you can improve on operation quality and success.