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Building Smarter: Technologies Today, Tomorrow

Building Smarter: Technologies Today, Tomorrow

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There are some hopeful signs that the construction industry is on track for some promising growth in the second half of 2021 and into 2022. That’s good news, but there’s no mistaking that general contractors, facilities managers and owners also face a variety of new post-pandemic challenges and opportunities.

Chief among those challenges is elevated materials costs. By some estimates, costs for lumber have more than tripled from pre-pandemic levels and steel prices nearly doubled. While there’s some indication that those conditions, especially with regard to lumber, may be easing, there’s no question that already-slim construction margins have become even tighter.

On the opportunities side (although it comes with some challenges, too) is the likelihood that many existing commercial real-estate spaces will require renovation in a post-pandemic market. For example, subdividing existing office space into smaller units for tenants whose footprints have shrunk, or needs have changed, since pre-pandemic times.

Pressure on Margins Requires New Efficiencies

Both of these dynamics — elevated materials costs and unexpected renovation/retrofit demands — will require contractors to raise their game in terms of efficiency. Because when margins shrink, efficiencies have to grow.

And one of the best places to gain those efficiencies is by cutting waste, especially in the planning and design cycle.  Still more important is being able to synthesize as-designed plans with as-built realities on a real-time basis. Putting it another way: while change orders are inevitable on any construction site, they eat margin. Managing them more efficiently can help to restore margin.

That’s why builders, facilities managers and owners are increasingly turning to digital twin technology to reduce waste, provide a common data environment, and improve on-site change management capabilities. Digital twin technology has been around for a while, but a new evolution of it — 3D digital twin technology —  is providing builders, owners and property managers with powerful new capabilities for staying on time, on budget and on target throughout the entire life cycle of their properties.

A Powerful New Set of Tools

Depicting a real-time representation of the physical reality of a job site — in 3D — capturing all recent changes and progress, 3D visual digital twin technology gives builders, architects, engineers (and, of course, BIM/VDC pros) in-depth access to on-site views into the as-built specifics of a project while enabling secure collaboration and ongoing data analytics across the enterprise.  It’s a game changer.

The last 15-16 months have been tough for everyone. Hopefully, as lockdown conditions continue to recede, we’ll all be on our way to something approaching “normal” life again.

However, even when we get there we can be certain we will face a variety of new challenges and, with them, opportunities, too. 3D digital twin technologies present a new way to unlock those opportunities.

Simon Bae is founder and CEO of Cupix.

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