Breaking Down the Silos

Breaking Down the Silos

What do high performing teams have in common? Clear purpose, trust, accountability, constructive conflict management, commitment to action, open and frequent communication, measured outcomes? All the above, and more, according to Patrick Lencioni, organizational health and team management coach.

“Breaking down the silos” is a phrase that is often used when we characterize high performing teams and the free flow of open communication they embody.  This phrase also describes many of the Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) processes that have permeated projects for many years.  While projects have become more and more complex, VDC solutions like Electronic Document Control, 3D Building Coordination, Reality Capture, Visual Scheduling, Digital Fabrication, and 3D Control and Planning have been the mainstay of project communication and allowed teams to develop a better sense of trust throughout the project lifecycle. From initial pursuit to final closeout, VDC has played an important role in breaking down the communication silos within the construction industry.

In its infancy, VDC was another silo, of many, in the vast field of project information. Although it was effective in solving problems, it lacked the trust, accountability and measured outcomes that are necessary to design and coordinate projects in the built world today.  As we continue to strive for the development of high performing teams with our internal and external customers, we must remain committed to pursuing VDC solutions that are “right sized” for each project that also mitigate the project risks that keep us awake at night.  This commitment is a key factor that allows us to develop trust with our customers and trade partners.

In December 2020, the AP team began interior framing and in-wall systems inspections on the Level 1 townhome units at The Bower Residences. During these inspections they discovered conflicts between in-wall systems (electrical outlets, junction boxes, mechanical grills), and interior fixtures and furnishings (light fixtures, cabinets, towel bars, robe hooks). Each issue was resolved, but it was taking valuable time and resources to correct each item and re-inspect for approval. In order to confirm that the coordination of each unit was completed prior to each inspection, the AP team concluded that a series of virtual mock-ups would be necessary to compile the design team’s specifications and trade partner’s shop drawings into a “single source of truth.” The virtual mock-ups will serve as a final coordination check and be used to walk the spaces with the MEP and framing subcontractors prior to releasing them to work in each designated area. This solution has proved itself thus far by reducing the time to sign off each area and keeping up with the flow of work as planned.

The next step was to find a solution to record the team’s progress in the field, documenting in-wall inspections prior to closing the walls and ceilings with finishes.  The AP team began the testing and implementation of a 360-video jobsite capture and mapping solution that is intended to improve this current process. Simply stated, the project plan drawings are loaded into the web application, a 360 camera is attached to a hardhat and then the area under review is walked around. The software captures an image every half-second and documents it. Once the site walk is completed, the data is uploaded to the application for all project team members to visualize, markup, compare to BIM models, and track progress in split screen comparisons of different dates captured in the system.  This solution has the potential to significantly help improve photo documentation organization.

This coordination effort is currently in process; AP will continue to work with the project team to coordinate the remaining floors with the goal of zero quality defects. As we all know, issues can arise in complex projects, but with high performing teams, like the Bower team, that trust each other and are accountable to one another will ultimately be successful and deliver a world class project for our customers!

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