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The future of clash workflows is automated

Regardless of the size of the project, clashes that go undetected can have huge impacts on timelines, budget and project quality. Construction projects are generally long, complex and have tight margins across the board. With so many unknown variables playing roles throughout the entire project lifecycle, it is no shock that projects regularly go over schedule and over budget.

Regardless of the size of the project, clashes that go undetected can have huge impacts on timelines, budget and project quality. Construction projects are generally long, complex and have tight margins across the board. With so many unknown variables playing roles throughout the entire project lifecycle, it is no shock that projects regularly go over schedule and over budget.

Throughout the past decade, the AEC industry has continued to speed up its adoption of new technologies as it has become easier to demonstrate the benefits of technologies and prove its ROI. While many workflows have improved, specifically around clash detection and reworks, projects teams are still suffering at the hands of clashes.

Clash from the past

Clashes vary depending on the sector and generally fall into a few categories: hard clash, soft clash and workflow/4D clashes. Hard clashes occur when two physical objects overlap and share the same space running into each other, like a pipe colliding with AC ductwork. Soft clashes occur when objects don’t intersect but their buffer zones do. A lack of buffer zones can create safety problems or code violations. The final type of clash detection deals with workflow/4D clashes, which impact scheduling and other timeline problems. For example, workers’ schedules, tasks and timelines do not match up when materials arrive late.

With the average project containing thousands of clashes and the average rework from an undetected clash costing from $1,500 to $17,000, just a hand full of clashes slipping through the cracks and getting constructed can impact the bottom line quickly.

However, technology can change this. It is up to us, the AEC industry, to get up-to-speed on the innovations around BIM and clash detection to make these issues a thing of the past. It is also important to know how far we have come to know where we are going.

First came the innovation

Instead of using traditional 2D sketches or 3D physical models to plan buildings, the construction professionals of the modern age are leveraging interactive virtual models. Recent graduates never saw the pen-and-paper modelling that was once the standard about a decade ago. Instead, they know nothing but digital models and virtual construction.

These new tools ushered in better communication and enabled more accurate models. They have also allowed for more teams and more sets of eyes to be on the project every step of the way. By empowering more teams with the model, better collaboration began to improve some projects efficiencies, like the time it takes for one team to notify of a change in the plan.

However, clashes did not go away.

Second came the detection

As technology became even more commonly adopted, BIM (building information modelling) started to become common practice, leading to the ability to detect clashing in these digital models. BIM tools grew to be able to highlight when a potential conflict might occur, either structural or in management. Stakeholders and project teams could then redesign or address the issue before it becomes a more pressing and expensive issue.

While this process drastically improved the timelines and workflows from the early digital age of construction, tremendous hours of manual labour and gaps in communication have still led to reworks and wasted man hours. The average construction project takes nearly 15 per cent more time to complete than planned, driving up costs almost 20 per cent from increased wages, equipment and more.

Recent studies show that rework is still accounting for nearly a quarter of total project costs. It’s unrealistic to assume detection will prevent all hard and soft clashes but it still leads to considerable savings. If it prevented just half of those requiring rework, that’s a 17 per cent cost reduction. The truth is, clash workflows have never been easy, but that is about to change.

And now comes the automation

With a conventional approach to project design and management, these issues may not arise until the construction phase. Since BIM is far more precise and practical than traditional methods, users can spot these issues earlier. It’s always easier and more affordable to fix a problem in planning than in execution.

Clash Automation enables project stakeholders to access the full benefits of BIM. As the technology improves and companies get access to more insightful data, BIM clash detection will likewise improve. Users will be able to see and react to a broader range of potential conflicts. Traditional clash detection processes still leave room for human error and waste hundreds of man hours.

In 2020, Revizto 5, an industry first Integrated Collaboration Platform (ICP) released version 5, enabling real-time collaboration across platforms, model types and teams. This was laying the foundation for what is next, their Revizto+ featuring Clash Automation that recently identified over 3m clashes in under 45 minutes. At an incredibly modest average cost of $1400 – that equates to over $4 billion in potential savings identified.

It would be unrealistic to say that clash detection and automation can remove every disruption from the construction process. However, Clash Automation is the first technology to have a chance at doing so.

Revizto released Revizto+ with Clash Automation on 19 October via a global presentation hosted by Revizto CEO Arman Gukasyan and Brett Settles, global director of customer success. Learn more: https://revizto.com/en/

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