Data is making a big difference to the construction sector, with 79% of contractors using software to capture data and manage information, according to a survey by Autodesk and Dodge Data. But what are the technological wins that are, for instance, saving construction clients huge amounts of time? Dr Jamie Dupée from Edocuments gives insight.
Tech enables productivity
There are many reasons why construction productivity can be put at risk: project mismanagement, poor communication, supply chain issues and more. Information management solutions however are providing a remedy to these issues; not only enabling efficient project management but ensuring project information can be accessed in a streamlined, secure and traceable way. These benefits are notable given that 28% of UK construction firms say that lacking the information they need on-site is the single biggest factor impacting their productivity.
A common data environment (CDE) is an example of an information management solution that aids productivity and saves construction clients time, through providing the same, secure cloud-based information for project stakeholders and teams to access.
Edocuments has been collaborating with a leading construction client to connect Edocuments’ information management platform, with the client’s CDE so that data can be transferred between the two platforms. This synchronisation was enabled through the use of a connector and API which is allowing a seamless connected process of transferring data into Edocuments platform. This data is essential to creating compliant and coherent handover documentation, and ultimately, to safeguard efficient asset operation.
As part of this project there are separate ‘connector’ processes. The first is a customer
connector whereby the client is using Edocuments platform’s standard API access (extracting the data behind the Edocuments platform reports). Customised API Tagging is also being used where, as well as viewing the standard data being presented, specific tagging added to data entry forms ensures information can be summarised or mined more easily and accurately.
This customer connection is giving the client the ability to pull data from Edocuments platform into their data warehouse. They are then able to manipulate that data to exactly how they require it to be presented (which may be different to how Edocuments platform typically presents it).
The second ‘connector’ process that the client has been using quite extensively is through the use of APIs in the form of what is called Integration Forms. These forms
link other third-party documentation platforms with Edocuments platform.
Currently on the project, the most popular integrations are with Asite, Fieldview and Autodesk BIM 360, whereby a user configures these forms to simply point at a folder or location within these platforms. Then if and when the documentation is uploaded to these platforms, Edocuments platform will also receive an exact copy.
The original intention of these integrations was to remove the need to download and re-upload documents to Edocuments platform such as certificates, literature, datasheets, or drawings into O&M manuals. But since the first trial project, the potential for these forms to be used extensively in all handover documentation was clear to see, as the Edocuments platform interface allowed the handover documentation to be formatted and presented to the end user or client in a more professional, efficient and complete manner. These forms are now used to ensure consistency in handover documentation as well as adding familiar workflow and reporting processes to the documentation (complete with responsible persons being set).
Significant time savings
These integrations have made Edocuments platform more than a database or editing tool but an intuitive platform that ensures efficient data collation and saves the client so much time. Time savings aren’t just achieved by removing the localised downloading and uploading. It also means the user only needs to set workflows and reports up on a single platform even though there are many third-party platforms used on the project.
So how much time is saved? Time has been saved mainly in removing the need for a resource to collate into the final handover output location. Overall, the use of Edocuments platform’s open APIs has improved connectivity across project systems enabling the efficient exchange of documentation and data. What’s more, the use of integration forms is providing efficiency improvements during all phases of the project and reducing project risk at the Operational Readiness and End of DLP Completion milestones.
Quite often users don’t realise how much time they are saving or saved until the very end of the project, or unless they are actively converting from another inadequate method of collecting handover documentation. Once they see what they can do and how easily they can provide contractual compliance in a client friendly format, using Edocuments platform becomes an automatic no brainer.