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November 05, 2017

The Birth of a Smart Lab


Recently, Suffolk Construction announced the creation of a Smart Lab in select office locations around the country. The concept is simple: create hubs within environments where project teams are currently coming together, but put them side-by-side with clients and partners to foster newfound levels of collaboration. It may seem like common sense, but it’s not as easy as you might think for these different constituents to regularly huddle around the same conference table.

The creation of an in-house Smart Lab is tapping into what many technologists already know: collaboration is key for successful building projects, and construction companies must do everything possible to keep each team member intimately involved in the process.

Features of Suffolk’s new Smart Lab include a data wall, which incorporates predictive analytics and operational performance indicators; a huddle wall, which pulls together planning meetings that incorporate 3D, 4D and 5D models; a virtual reality “cave” that allows clients to see their building before it is built and teams to identify potential logistical challenges; and jobsite feeds that provides live-streaming and time lapse updates of existing projects.

Building Smart – without the Lab

What Suffolk is doing is an important first step for showcasing how modern construction project teams should build. But in the event creating a virtual reality cave isn’t in your operating budget, stay calm – you can get there from here.

New construction project collaboration software makes it possible to bring teams together in real-time, even if they’re not on the physical jobsite. Access to project information and files is instantly sharable, negating the need for visiting a central office to view the latest updates. While meeting in person is always helpful, cloud-based construction collaboration software can fill those gaps when it just isn’t possible.

In addition, new mobile field software enables project team members to deploy resources to jobsites from the palms of their hands. Live updates show when projects are completed and manpower can be released to the next task. Similarly, project managers can monitor their field crews to see where they are via GPS and disperse them to the nearest client site that needs an issue resolved, such as fixing a quality control issue during the warranty period.

And don’t forget: cloud-based project management systems make it possible to share all file types with team members, even dense 3D and 4D models.

Moving in the Right Direction

No matter what, advances in technology and project management software that improve the client experience are serious gains for the construction industry. In-person or via the cloud, this emphasis on real-time access and data availability ensures teams are more successful at what they do, and clients are happier with the end result.

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