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How BIM technology can transform Quality Management in Construction Industry

BIM Technology is becoming more and more a reality in the construction industry every day.

It’s definitely the most attractive innovation we’ve seen in the industry since the CAD technology swept away pencils, rulers and rapidographs that were the norm after WW2.

We have all probably heard about the ways that BIM could transform the Design, Cost Controlling, Procurement and Planning of a project.

Download the Inspection & Test Plan Template (ITP) for Construction Projects – in Excel Format

But what about Quality Management?

This is how BIM can transform quality management on and off site:

1. NCRs could be on the BIM model as one more layer of additional info/data

It would be extremely useful to have a visual representation of the NCR status (and related links) anytime you click on an element on the BIM model. Everything would be connected at one place. Procedural NCRs or NCRs not relevant to the final product could be handled in a similar way but on a different layer maybe (?). These NCRs could also be linked to the planning database in case the next construction phase is directly related to their closure. A real holistic solution that could eventually keep everyone in the loop when something goes wrong. Some NCRs could potentially also be blocking payments to contractors or other parties (QSs love those!).

 2. Inspection and Test plans (ITPs) could be on the BIM model as an additional layer linked to the project’s programme

The ITPs could be directly linked to the model as additional layers of data providing information regarding the progress of the inspections (pass or fail) , approvals of Project Managers (Client’s representatives), links to relevant NCRs and other evidence. Links could be made to the schedule as well. The whole database could be easily managed through an extensive use of tablets for the inspections/snagging on site so that all data sets speak to each other.

 3. Laboratory testing results could be added on the model

That’s an easy one and it could easily be part of an element’s materials properties. These items could be also linked to NCRsITPs and of course to the final completion and handover packages.

 4. Completion/Certification Packages could just be a matter of some clicks

If the as-built data have been correctly uploaded and linked to the BIM Model along with all the Inspection records and lab results then it could just be a matter of some clicks to generate completion and handover packages for final delivery of the Project File to the Client. Yes, there might be some extra certificates that may have to be produced manually (or staged) but I would personally die to see the handover being just a matter of clicks on the model. I really don’t see why companies don’t do that and they’d rather hire people to manually collect data and paperwork at the end.

 5. Certificates of materials/ delivery tickets and other data could also be linked with the items on the database as pdf files

That’s an easy one. Materials come on-site with thousands of pages of compliance records and production documentation. A quick upload to the correct element (even from the supplier) would solve so many unnecessary paperwork on site and make Site Engineer’s lives so much easier.

6. Document Control should work only through the BIM Model

Method Statements, Risk Assessments, ITPs, Material Approvals, Reports, Minutes, Inspection Records, Field Change Reports, RFIs, inspection Requests and generally all the paperwork and approvals of a construction project could simply be there. The EDMS should talk to the model and vice versa.

Maybe all of the above sound today like a sci-fi movie or a “Simcity-type” construction game but bear in mind that back in the 50’s or 60’s Engineers couldn’t even imagine what CAD technology is doing today.

There are many solutions on the market today that work in a similar way but nothing really holistic, user-friendly and practical up to now. At least, not from what I have seen.

Also, the data entry is another important issue.

Who will be responsible for uploading these data, and how?

Will it be a centralised Document Control Dept.  or every stakeholder producing these data (Designer, Site Engineers, Laboratory, Inspectors, Subcontractors etc)?

To my experience, It would be extremely difficult to convince Clients. Designers or other Third Parties to work on the same environment. This can only happen on massive projects and only when the Client insists on it.

Bu undoubtedly, this is where it becomes tricky…

Will the Management give enough time through proper planning for such a tidy solution to be applied or we will end up adding workload to the Engineers, Document Controllers and Inspectors with extra tasks and last-minute submissions/approvals as usual?

At the end of the day, will we end up reducing the waste or we will have one more extra headache and obviously extra cost on and off site with additional tasks just for the sake of it?

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AUTHOR
Pavlos Inglesis
I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (CEng-MICE) and a Chartered Quality Professional (MCQI CQP) working in the construction industry for about 20 years. My specialty is Quality Control and Quality Assurance Management in Construction Projects. I have worked on projects in the Middle East, and Greece and am now based in the UK.

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