Waste that hides in plain sight.

Now here’s a trade secret from someone who sells knowledge-based services; fail to keep adding to your knowledge and you just become that guy down the pub going on about the superiority of minidisc players.  Although BIM isn’t all about technology, as BIM consultant with a tech background I often get asked about software solutions. To ensure I can offer good advice I stay close to the construction technology scene; which in my opinion is a wise way to trade in time for knowledge.

Earlier this week I headed down to local document management specialists Opentree in Stokesley to get a deep dive* into their Cabinet solution of which I’ve previously only skimmed the surface.

*A deep dive is taking software way beyond the demo you’ll get as part of a sales pitch, you get the guys who designed and built it to show you specific task being performed whilst you ask difficult and industry-specific questions to see how deep the solution goes.  I won’t name names of course, but this does find some companies out.

Digging into Cabinet for the morning revealed a narrow, yet deep and powerful toolset. Most of all I was impressed by the focus of Cabinet in solving a real problem of forgotten waste which is pretty well-hidden in plain sight.

Where’s this waste then?

All of the activities around the creation and issue of technical information have always been a time pit.  From signing and folding multiple drawings and ticking off the drawing register for each pile before driving them to multiple offices, right up to the modern incarnation of this waste which takes the form of uploading a file for approval and then having to go through the processes of reopening that very same file only to change its issue status to do it all again.  Perhaps because we’ve always lived with this waste we are blind to it.

The team at Opentree have been aware of this waste for a lot of years and developed some neat tools to help the rail industry before bringing their technology into the construction sector.  I’m not trying to write their sales pitch for them, but when I see useful and robust software I’m happy to point it out.  If you do read this blog and decide to look a little closer at Opentree, I won’t get a penny, I’ve put a link at the end (if you’re wondering why I bother please re-read para #1).

Now for those of you who are thinking what’s this actually got to do with BIM, here are the key things to consider.  The BS1192:2007 common data environment process requires introduces the WIP > Shared > Published > Archive cycle which works best when delivered in shorter iterations, especially from WIP to Shared because this breaks down information silo issues and allows everyone to work on the latest information.  This is great, and I’m a big fan of this process, but it does mean more admin for each piece of information to ensure status codes, QC signatures and metadata are all in place so people understand what they have.  With added admin comes time not spent designing as well as the risk of human error, which if we’re honest both are things we are trying to remove through the implementation of BIM processes.  So rather than just pulling the waste earlier in the process, it’s worth considering deploying tools to remove it.

I’d like to thank Andrew and Dan for the time and the coffee, so here’s a link to their website and I hope this post helps a few people take fresh look at using BIM to reduce waste, rather than just move it around.

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Niven & BIM Stategy