by Dave Crumrine, Lowell Dykstra, Jeremy Oliver, and Dave Los
When firms take the time early in the design process to improve construction coordination — for instance between mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) subcontractors working in constricted areas — they can reap tangible benefits. This article offers a design/build-oriented perspective. — Editor
Design/build is a project delivery system that aligns the goals of the builder and the designer and rewards extra planning and collaboration. Better planning pays off later in fewer field hours, improved productivity, and higher profits. The designer can benefit from helping the constructor, and the constructor has a partner willing and able to put extra effort into design and coordination.
The traditional (design-bid-build) system has not compensated the designer for doing coordination early nor given the constructor time to do it well later in the project cycle. Additionally, contractors under traditional project delivery have found it difficult to get adequate compensation for resolving conflicts. A study on MEP coordination in the August 2005 ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management indicates that contractors don't recover 80 percent of costs of field interferences and that those costs grow geometrically the later in the building process they are discovered.
Detailed drawings using 3D CAD can greatly improve coordination among engineers, constructors, owners, and subcontractors. This coordination, done well and early, enables innovation by allowing more prefabrication, standardization, and process improvement in project construction. Better coordination can also improve a project's quality, the team's delivery speed, and their cooperation.
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Prefabricated underground conduit: precision construction under constricted conditions.
Photo: Interstates Companies
Digital visualization of prefabricated racks aids in coordination among trades.
Image: Interstates Companies
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