Before the digital era, construction design and plans were hand drawn by architects and engineers. Whenever copies of these drawing and documents were required, skilled draftsmen were required to reproduce the documents using a wide range of drawing tools. When Computer Aided Design (CAD) was introduced, it brought a revolutionary change in the construction industry by making the drawing process much faster with higher accuracy. However, construction drawings are still being printed in some project sites.
Traditional ways of hand drawn construction designs were exposed to a high risk of damage from environmental factors like dust and humidity. These limitations can be easily cut down with the use of digital documents. Also, considering the current emergency situation of the coronavirus outbreak, hand drawn designs could be a possible transmission medium of the novel virus.
Digitization can be easily implemented in new construction projects, since all the documents can be managed digitally from the start. However, in some cases where no documents are available, the construction drawing must be created based on inspections.
Let’s dive further into how digital construction documents helps in better project management.
Improving Efficiency with Digital Documents
Printed construction drawings have many limitations as they can be easily damaged or lost, and multiple copies may not be immediately available. Also, during change orders, the site personnel must wait for the documents to be printed and delivered which leads to delays in the project.
How digital documents overcome the printed construction drawings issues:
• Digital documents are protected from physical damage at all times since they are stored in a cloud database or a company server.
• These documents can be accessed from multiple devices simultaneously which allows annotations and discussions without the need of physical contact.
• Annotations can be reviewed by architects and engineers quickly making the flow of information more efficient.
• Change orders can be managed by updating the documents accessed by the site personnel. This also saves on paper and transportation costs.
For storing physical construction documents, construction companies would accumulate large archive over time. This could introduce difficulties for finding a specific document for a collaborator unfamiliar with older projects. On the other hand, using the right keywords would fetch any document, regardless of how much the database has grown over time. Digital file system can also cut down a lot of time during reorganizing on files.
Another advantage of digital documents is that blocks of drawings can be easily copied and used in other projects. For example, this is very useful when multiple projects have the same equipment and installation procedures.
Digitization in Existing Buildings
Digital documents can be used during renovations and retrofits in existing buildings. For buildings with construction documents available only in printed version or are damaged or non-existent, technology can be used for creating updated documents. Physical construction documents can be scanned and updated by a professional engineering firm. However, large format scanners are required for scanning, since the conventional scanner resolution is not enough. With the use of design software, these high-resolution images are then converted into the respective formats.
When no documents are available, digital or printed, 3D laser scanners can be used to mapping the facility with high level of accuracy. The output of the laser scanning is a geometric figure which must be reviewed by the architects and engineers. While the 3D laser scanners can produce highly detailed site plans, the workers need to be familiar with the output and area for the best results.
With rising levels of disruption in the industry, construction businesses must transition to digitization and automation to stay. By digitizing your documents, businesses will be able to experience increased efficiency, improved productivity, and reduced costs, which will ultimately give them a huge advantage over the competitors.