Is it an impossible equation to ensure quality, speed, safety and cost management simultaneously at a construction site? No, not at all. It is definitely possible, but it requires changing the traditional construction methods and adopting new ones. Digitalisation offers a wide range of new opportunities for improving and harmonising working methods and thus ensuring a safer and more efficient construction project.
The Capella apartment building in Helsinki’s Kalasatama was our pilot project which focused on the key problems in construction, in other words quality, safety and cost management. Based on the project, we compiled the main points that we learned.
1. Improved planning
All construction projects start from planning. Especially when the aim is to adopt new approaches or combine different solutions, new kinds of planning methods are also required. By collecting data on projects automatically, it is possible to keep improving planning processes and thus aim for better quality and increasingly effective and safe solutions. Well planned is better done.
2. More effective working methods: takt time production
One of the key factors improving efficiency and safety is to change rigid and slow working methods. Factory-like takt time production was tested for the first time as part of the Capella construction project. Takt time production refers to a conveyor belt-like production method, commonly used in industrial processes. In industrial takt time production the product moves on a conveyor belt, while in the construction industry the product stays still and the workers move from one place to another.
The working methods used in takt time production are different from traditional methods in that work is done in smaller batches and simultaneously in different apartments. For example, flooring is traditionally installed in one go throughout a residential building before moving on to the following phases. In takt time production, flooring is installed in one apartment at a time. Once the flooring is done in one apartment, the workers will move on to the next apartment. The apartment where the flooring is already done is then ready for the next phase to begin.
With the help of takt time production, Fira’s Capella project was able to achieve a situation where a different subcontractor was working on each floor. Thanks to systematic supervision, an interactive culture of dialogue developed between the subcontractors, ensuring that errors were detected and fixed immediately together. This prevented the recurrence of errors at the site and helped avoid time-consuming and costly repairs. The new culture of dialogue also taught us to organise and schedule work more effectively.
In addition to efficiency and quality control, takt time production helps improve the safety of a construction site. During the Capella project we noticed that the new methods improved worksite logistics as there were fewer unfinished tasks and less toing and froing. Improved logistics reduced the risk and number of accidents.
3. Flow of information with digital tools
When digital tools are utilised smartly, they can help make a construction project a lot smoother. A smooth flow of information is one of the cornerstones of a successful construction project. Digital tools allow you to structure and visualise worksite information so that it benefits everyone involved in the project. The Capella project utilised the Sitedrive software to divide the project tasks into detailed sections. The open database known as the Open Data Platform allowed each worker to monitor the construction site situation and progress in real time.
In addition to a smoother flow of information, digital tools can be utilised for monitoring the conditions. When you are more aware of the conditions of both the site and the workers, you can optimise the work done at the site and improve the working conditions and safety. During the Capella project, the real-time monitoring of the site conditions was done using the Fira Insite tool which collected and visualised the data produced by the sensors in each apartment with regard to variations in temperature, humidity and pressure. For example, the drying of structures was monitored in real time, which made it possible to prepare a more efficient and quicker drying plan. The aim of monitoring the workers’ conditions was, among other things, to remind them about the need for hydration and to ensure sufficient supervision.
New planning, innovative and effective working methods and utilisation of digital tools lead towards improved quality and a safer and more cost-effective construction project. Read more about the Capella project and the lessons learned by downloading our Succeed on Site report.
Please download the report below: