The AEC industry today has widely adopted 3D technologies and “building information models” to improve communication and coordination during the designing and building of projects. The models are used before construction starts and early on in the project to extract more accurate cost estimates, resolve major trade conflicts and eliminate rework. This is supposed to help the industry optimize resources, reduce waste and gain efficiency.

The reality is that the coordination process is complicated, requires a seemingly endless number of coordination meetings “to run clash detections” and monopolizes important resources as the many participants work to produce weekly coordination materials. What usually happens is that trade contractors literally have to stop focusing on detailing their scope and respond to a list of models with specific information and certain formats requested by the GC for coordination meetings.

The substantial effort put into preparing for these meetings is a waste of resources, as the meetings usually are used to document the status of the project and list the conflicts, instead of investing time resolving them.


-- How excited are trade contractors each time a general contractor calls for a 3D coordination meeting, so representatives of all the trades can meet around a table to run a clash detection?

How much time is invested preparing for those meetings, instead of doing actual work?

How much time is spent importing and exporting 3D models in different formats, very often bringing over too much information that must be sorted through to extract the valid clashes to resolve … all to start over again in a few days for the next meeting?

The 3D technology break-through that is supposed to revolutionize construction is often making coordination more complex and requiring extra resources to deal with increasingly detailed models that are too complex to update efficiently.

I submit that the problem lies with a faulty approach to the process and inappropriate application of our software.

The root of the problem is that GCs today prefer to limit their role to directing traffic, rather than taking responsibility for leading coordination. They pass the responsibility for resolving conflicts between the trades, back to the specialty contractors. The reasoning is that trade contractors understand what they do the best, so why should the GC take liability and spend time and money doing their work for them to help them save money?