Collaboration in Construction – Why it Matters

Why does collaboration matter? It has been seen that structured collaboration can make it or break it for a project success. In this blog we’re taking a closer look on collaboration and coordination in the construction process.

One of the key learnings from the Hackitt report in 2018 was the fragmentation and lack of consistency in the construction sector. The report stated that the system inhabits inadequate regulatory oversight and enforcement tools while also lacking a clarity over where responsibility lies. This in turn leads to a “cultural issue across the sector” and “insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe”.

Instead of the siloed thinking having hegemony today, the sector must enact a risk-based approach with transparency of information and an audit trail as the main focal point. This means collaboration within a golden thread is necessary, as communication breaks up the silos and information are kept accurate in smart data management systems. However, for the golden thread of information to be realized, it will help if every field and discipline within AEC work digitally or model-based.

The importance of collaboration in construction projects stems from the vast number of disciplines, stakeholders, and people in the project. A real-world example where collaboration failed is Berlin’s new airport (BER). The Berlin airport is perhaps the largest failed construction project in Europe during the 2000s. The opening was planned for 2011, but after constant problems and postponed inaugurations, the official opening didn´t happened until October 31st. In the middle of a pandemic no less.

“At BER, construction planning was started without actually having an execution plan” Christian Ahrendt, VP for The German Federal Court of Auditors

For a project of this gigantic size, the problem was to coordinate and ensure that all technical requirements were fulfilled. Requirements, specifications, and documentation were lacking, and major shortcomings in fire protection became the last straw. The failed project became a lesson that marked the start of a major national BIM initiative in Germany, a first important step towards a more collaborated construction sector.

Luckily, not all projects are like the BER project. Back in November 2020 we were presented with several successful collaboration projects at the buildingSMART Awards Program. For example Project Celsius in Sweden, the winner of the construction category, in which the workflow was completely model-based. Through collaboration and a unique way of working, Celsius’ BIM model had so much information that it could be used as the only construction document for the entire project – down to the smallest detail. The result is significantly fewer construction errors and changes as well as a complete digital twin for future management. This is because project managers who have a single data source as the main documentation won’t only save time in information management, they can also avoid information overload which can lead to costly mistakes and delays.

Strategic collaboration can save time, money, and in accordance with the Building Safety Bill, lives. BIM and smart data management is the first step to work towards a more collaborative sector. Fire protection can play their part and start working more closely to the other AEC fields. This way, fire protection can become an important link in the golden thread of information.

Are you a fire engineer looking to be a more collaborative part in construction projects? Look into our BIM Implementation programs here or register for a free Bimfire Tools demo here.

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