It’s no secret that the construction industry as a whole tends to approach change with hesitation – why change what isn’t broken? However, sometimes change is inevitable. As technology continues to advance, the opportunity to build better products for our customers becomes more attainable. What does this mean for the construction engineering & inspection (CEI) involved in these projects, and what can we do to set ourselves up for success as we move into this new phase of managing projects?
Over time, plans provided by the client have become increasingly detailed. Increased detail in the plan sets help mitigate the potential for varied interpretation between the contractor and the construction inspector. As we’ve written about before, the addition of NexGen plan sets represents a wider shift in our industry toward 3D plans, which in turn provides numerous benefits. While building the 3D models, plan errors can be discovered that would have been missed solely utilizing paper plan sets. This gives the client an added layer of verification to lower the chance of potential claims levied by the contractor. As is the case with any project, the more information that can be provided to all parties prior to construction, the better the understanding of the scope will be. For those of us in the CEI world, access to these models should lead to less questioning between the contractor/inspector/Engineer of Record (EOR) regarding the EOR’s intentions for specific aspects of these projects.
Advance training is a key to success for CEI teams gearing up for the NexGen plan transition. Multiple DOTs are navigating the transition to NexGen usage, including FDOT. According to current FDOT specifications, the contractor will provide a minimum of four hours of training to the CEI. Although this may be adequate to get a quick overview of the process, hands-on utilization of the software/hardware is necessary to get a working grasp of how to best use the new technology for CEI inspection. The best way to take a proactive approach would be to provide internal training to our teams. Internal training will provide a solid foundation, which the contractor can then build upon by showcasing how their specific teams are utilizing these tools. Specifically, training should be focused on the following items:
- Navigating the basic features of three industry-standard software platforms (Trimble, TopCon, and Leica)
- Training on utilizing the hardware/software in real-project scenarios that will come up:
- Checking final grades and milling depths
- Recording out-of-tolerance points
- Basic troubleshooting for common hardware issues
In conjunction with the training provided by contractors, this is a crucial stepping-stone for the Mead & Hunt CEI inspection team. Beyond training on utilizing the hardware/software in the field, CEI teams would benefit from extensive review of the NexGen plan sets before construction begins. Completing this review will prepare our inspection staff for accurate field conditions, as well as provide further verification of the plan sets.
To adjust to any type of change, the best method is to give our teams both proactive knowledge for a solid foundation, and also the reactive skills to tackle any roadblocks. The introduction of NexGen plans will present a continued opportunity for learning. While our Mead & Hunt CEI team is excited to adjust to the coming changes, the goal of providing the best possible product for our clients will remain the same.