Founded in 1934, Lokhorst is a developing contractor that focuses primarily on the construction, renovation, and maintenance for various clients across the utility, commercial, and social sectors. Based in the Netherlands, the firm holds itself to high standards of quality, sustainability, and safety and takes pride in working closely with clients to deliver high-end buildings within scope and budget.
One of Lokhorst’s major goals has been to go paperless and maintain their Level 5 Sustainability rating. They also wanted to increase efficiency in their delivery process and reduce the headaches that were felt by many project stakeholders in issue reporting and resolution.
“We needed to digitize and automate our workflows from paper into the cloud,” says Arjan Peeters, Manager Virtual Construction at Lokhorst. “We have a lot of hard copy forms, that were not being tracked properly, and the process was more complicated than it needed to be.”
The Problem: Paper Forms, Excel, and Handwritten Notes
There were a number of inefficiencies and frustrations that stemmed from a complicated workflow for managing issues that relied on a paper form-driven QA system. Lokhorst had previously used an outside QA firm to help them manage these processes, which necessitated finding and printing the appropriate forms for logging issues, getting them filled out by hand in the field, then entering the information from the forms into Excel so they could be aggregated. This produced a convoluted and cumbersome set of steps that made it difficult to manage issues in a timely manner. Naturally, this created frustration with colleagues, subcontractors, and clients as well.
Lokhorst solved this problem by putting a form in BIM 360 as a checklist so that every room in the building could be checked on flaws, mistakes, and defects. In a perfect world these issues are sent directly to the person responsible for resolving the specific issue, but the initial challenge with implementing this new part of the workflow was getting their partners to use BIM 360 in the right way.
Disadvantages experienced from a paper based analog system included:
- Forms were at the office
- Not enough space to be specific or include all stakeholders
- No more than 10 issues could be added to each form
- Forms got lost or misplaced
- Handwriting was difficult to decipher
- Forms had to be scanned and archived
The Solution: Digital Forms in BIM 360
Lokhorst decided that the best way to implement a digital process would be through BIM 360. They chose the construction management platform due to its ease of use and the fact that they could work within a single platform, keeping all their forms and data in one place. They also needed the Cloud functionality to eliminate the need to sync, keeping all data live and up-to-date.
The plan was to get project managers and subcontractors all using smart devices to access the forms for reporting issues in BIM 360, thus simplifying the process of reporting and managing the issues. This also gave them the ability to include digital photos of the issues so contractors knew precisely where to go and what needed to be done. Having the system digital would also speed up the signoff and handover process, giving clients complete visibility on their properties.
The Results: Less Paper and Better Visibility
Eliminating the paper forms not only reduced the time required to resolve issues by 46%, but made resolving them much easier:
- No more hunting down the right forms
- No more legibility issues with handwritten forms, often filled out in rainy conditions
- No more Excel and decentralized issues
- Better issue resolution with photos
- One-stop project overview in a unified platform
Lessons Learned: Don’t Make Assumptions; Help Everyone Get On Board
Lokhorst learned a few lessons through their initial implementation:
- Don’t hang your colleagues ‘out to dry.’ Initially, some team members were unfamiliar with BIM 360, and needed specific training to get them onboard. As they developed a more comprehensive digital workflow, they created internal training tools to get everyone over the hump and working smoothly.
- Don’t implement a template and override the existing one. In assuming that everyone was onboard and ready to go, they launched into the new workflow and jettisoned the old system, losing a lot of critical data in the process. Though this data was retrievable, the time it took to correct this misstep eroded confidence in the system.
- Don’t use different systems. With confidence lagging, team members relied on legacy systems, which created unnecessary complexity.
- Don’t give subcontractors access to the system without instructing them. Subcontractors needed just as much training as internal colleagues if the data in the system was going to remain reliable. Lokhorst created handouts and videos to get everyone up to speed. They also made BIM implementation a requirement in contract agreements.
“Colleagues are used to printing, drawing, sketching, signing, and emailing to a partner, and waiting for an answer,” says Steffan van Leenen, Virtual Constructor at Lokhorst. “With BIM 360 this process is very different. We mail every question, from RFI to review assignments and have more control over our reviews and RFIs.”