02.04.2020 : Glenn Jowett

Remote collaboration for complex projects

With COVID-19 impacting on businesses, communities and countries all over the globe, many companies will be finding the transition to having the majority or entirety of their workforce located at home a challenge. So, how can we effectively work remotely and continue business as usual? 

For some, working from home or on the road from the cloud is nothing new. While the lockdown is certainly a huge shift in the way many people work, advancements in technology and more effective integration of different digital tools is making it easier than ever to collaborate, coordinate and communicate. 

Of course, being forced to immediately adopt cloud-based technology and remote workflows isn’t ideal, but we need to get creative to keep connected, and teams will quickly become acquainted with these ways of working when it’s adopted on a daily basis. In fact, existing tools that have been tried and tested by pockets of remote workers already, provide an opportunity to scale up and enhance our daily way of operating.

To collaborate across and between companies, clients and disciplines, we can use tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom to combat our inability to meet face-to-face. However, while useful for communication, it’s not always so easy to understand complex design ideas in a populated virtual meeting. 

Taking it to the next level, BIM-based design and cloud-based collaboration platforms enable teams to coordinate effectively with all project stakeholders and team members remotely. Virtual platforms that are already well established, industry-tested and widely adopted can help a wide array of companies and clients manage their BIM and digital information. 

For those in the design phase of their projects, tools such as BIM360, in conjunction with Skype, can be used to maintain business as usual.

Business as usual

BIM360 is a cloud-based platform that is well utilised across market segments including commercial buildings, health, transport infrastructure, tourism, power and water. It is a tool that connects project teams and digital data in real time, from design through to construction and asset management. 

As a cloud-based tool, BIM360 accelerates project collaboration and delivery by enabling immediate access to all project data from any geographical location at any time. It connects multidisciplinary teams by sharing online data across the project life cycle and supports analytical information, consequently reporting rich data for future project planning. The snapshot below highlights how BIM360 platforms can support project delivery across different phases.  

Figure 1. BIM 360 Project Delivery Solutions. Retrieved from Autodesk.

Even before the impact of COVID-19 and its ensuing physical contact restrictions, the ability to utilise and manage virtual platforms to support effective teamwork across geographies and time zones has been delivering tangible increases in productivity and efficiency for many companies and industries.

Within the Digital Asset Advisory, BIM and Information Management fields, different cloud-based approaches are actively used to support the strategic implementation of virtual collaboration systems and management of digital information. Design coordination, constructability review, project management, BIM quality control, digital asset advisory, site safety, design and BIM management are just some of the benefits that BIM360 and other cloud-based collaborative tools can provide.

A well-coordinated design process in virtual platforms can maximise efficiency by identifying, reducing or eliminating design errors, geometrical clashes, unforeseen future constructability issues and accessibility challenges - just some of main causes of rework during the construction phase. 

Below is an example of a project managed by Beca’s Digital Advisory team, where all design team members carry out external collaboration in real-time via a cloud-based platform. 

 

Figure 2. Virtual multidisciplinary design collaboration. Retrieved from a current project.

Complimentery technology

Connecting project team members and digital data is the first step to establishing an effective cloud-based collaboration process.

Adopting BIM approaches can significantly increase the quality and speed of project delivery, minimise variation and maximise productivity by enabling teams to securely collaborate in real-time and exchange digital information.

So, what’s holding you back? Get in touch with Tayler Hubber-Davis, Farzam Farzadi or Glenn Jowett to find out more and identify the collaborative solution that works for you and your team.

About the Author

Glenn Jowett

Senior Associate - BIM Delivery Lead

Glenn Jowett is a Senior Associate for BIM Delivery at Beca. In recent years he has developed BIM strategies for several high profile clients across New Zealand, managed the BIM process on a number of high profile projects and contributed significantly to industry initiatives.

Glenn is passionate about the potential of new technologies and how we interact with them to bring added value to our clients and unlock new ways of working throughout the entire asset life-cycle. Widely recognised as a thought leader in the BIM community, Glenn regularly speaks at conferences, writes articles for industry publications and is the chair of BIMsiNZ in Christchurch.

He is co-author/key contributor for both the 2014 and 2016 versions of the NZ BIM Handbook, a member of the BIM101 industry training group, and was awarded the NZIOB Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2016 for his contribution to BIM within the NZ construction industry.

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