Digital tools can simplify the handover process and benefit FMs in the long-run, says Tom Boland.
When it comes to the construction sector and the various stages of a project – including the facilities management term – the use of digital tools is minimal. However, the digitisation of work processes needn’t be a daunting concept. Instead, it will help companies streamline their workflow and achieve better outcomes.
Many in the industry are hesitant to adopt new technologies, which hinders productivity and profitability. Further, it creates a barrier between those involved in the construction phase and those who manage and maintain the buildings, making it more likely for things to go wrong once these sites are up and running.
It’s imperative that building owners and facilities managers work with contractors to use a virtual platform that gathers all the necessary data in one place to ensure the handover goes smoothly.
From quality control management to asset registers and operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals, cloud-based software makes daily tasks easier, and boosts productivity, accountability and collaboration.
Out with the old tech and processes
One of the biggest barriers to efficiency and a smooth handover process is the use of paper. Paper can be damaged, lost or destroyed, presenting serious risks throughout a project. It also creates issues when copies of key documents are held in one location but urgently needed in another. Digitising handover processes greatly reduces these risks as all the necessary data is gathered in a single, cloud-based location.
However, paper isn’t the only outdated system that professionals in the industry use. Clunky methods of data management, such as Microsoft Excel and Dropbox, can easily lead to data inaccuracy, inefficiency and omission. When this happens, project problems escalate quickly.
Cloud-based software delivers seamless access and sharing of data throughout a project, and provides powerful visualisations that bring data to life, highlighting any gaps and disparities so that facilities managers can address them as they happen in real time.
In with the new technology
Digital tools help with the management of specific documents, which proves particularly useful for large, complex projects that traditionally involve storing thousands of pages of material.
The handover process also includes items that are easily overlooked, such as water, sewer and storm drainage specifications, landscaping and lighting details, main power sources and natural gas details, which facilities managers need easy access to so they can keep buildings and their occupants safe.
Data management tools are the solution and can be used for the following:
1. Asset registers: Asset registers help FMs to manage their project asset information and to receive the most up-to-date design documents, drawings and models from contractors to ensure correct information is used through all phases of a project.
2. Digital O&Ms: O&M information collected and validated during the design and construction phases can be stored in a digital platform in preparation for a smooth handover to operations and facilities management teams.
3. Health and safety files: Health and safety credentials stored in the cloud can be easily searched, accessed and presented, making it simple for facilities managers to view the details of previous and upcoming inspections, as well as any maintenance requirements.
4. BIM Enabled O&Ms: O&M manuals can be digitised, compiled and linked to 3D models to make locating and using them much simpler in the facilities management term.
5. COBie data: Cloud-based software allows for Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) data to be efficiently collected, validated and uploaded, helping users to maintain compliance with contractual and regulatory COBie standards.
The beginning of something great
Although handover is linked to the final stage of construction, it’s essentially the first stage of the much longer operational and maintenance phase of the building’s life cycle, and the key moment when facilities managers become involved. Handover, however, is not a single moment in time, but rather a crucial part of the process which must be considered by contractors from the very beginning of a project and throughout a building’s construction.
With the use of technology such as cloud-based software, the handover stage not only becomes simpler, but it becomes more successful, benefitting building owners, facilities managers and even society. When managed correctly, digital handovers ensure errors are minimised, building safety is increased and real, long-term value is realised by the final product.
Tom Boland is global head of digitalisation at construction and property tech company Zutec.