What is a Digital Workflow?

February 21, 2024

Construction companies relying on outdated, manual workflows are missing out on the advantages of automation, including digital workflows. The opportunity cost is high. In the competitive construction industry, forgoing digital workflows can directly hurt a company's bottom line.

Today, we will explore digital workflows, their benefits, and why they are indispensable for remaining competitive in today's fast-paced environment.

What is a Digital Workflow?

A digital workflow is a systematic, automated series of interconnected steps or processes that digitally manage and streamline the flow of information, tasks, and data within an organization or individual's work environment. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of a task or project, from initiation to completion. Digital workflows facilitate collaboration, enhance efficiency, and ensure accuracy. They typically use software applications and online platforms to integrate tasks, automate repetitive processes, and enable real-time communication and data exchange. Ultimately, the goal of digital workflows is to optimize productivity and reduce manual effort.

What is a Digital Workflow in Construction?

In construction, a digital workflow refers to the systematic and technology-driven process that manages the entire lifecycle of a construction project. It involves integrating digital tools and technologies to streamline communication, collaboration, and data management among various stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and project managers. 

Digital workflows in construction leverage Building Information Modeling (BIM), project management software, and other specialized tools to optimize tasks such as design coordination, project scheduling, resource allocation, and documentation. Digital workflows in construction enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and lead to improved more cost-effective project outcomes.

What are Examples of Digital Workflow in Construction?

Project Planning and Design

  • Building Information Modeling: BIM software revolutionizes construction by enabling the development of detailed 3D models that encompass every aspect of a project. This lets you visualize the entire structure and allows all stakeholders, from architects to contractors, to collaborate in a shared digital environment. 
  • Project Planning: Digital workflow tools have transformed project planning in construction. They offer robust solutions for scheduling, progress tracking, and task assignment. Construction teams can optimize schedules and monitor project milestones in real time. Digital project planning also allows efficient task allocation, ensuring the project progresses according to plan. 

Project Execution

  • Digital Workflows: With cloud-based platforms, construction teams can use a centralized repository of project data and digital workflows to ensure real-time collaboration, easy information sharing, and universal access to project data from any location or device. This also enables real-time decision making and feedback on-site. 
  • Construction Layout: Multi-trade layout processes involve the automated generation of all interior trades' layouts in a single pass. This approach enhances precision and expedites the layout phase. Using automated systems to optimize coordination and mitigate errors creates a smoother construction process.

What are the Benefits of Digital Workflow in Construction?

Improve Collaboration and Communication

One of the primary benefits of digital workflow in construction is enhanced collaboration and communication. These workflows provide a centralized and accessible platform for project stakeholders. Team members can use cloud-based platforms to share real-time updates, documents, and project data from anywhere. This makes collaboration much easier, especially among geographically dispersed teams. 

In addition, automated notifications and task assignments streamline communication channels so everyone involved is informed promptly about project developments and their specific responsibilities. 

Enhance Accuracy and Reduce Errors 

Another key benefit of digital workflows in construction is enhancing accuracy and minimizing errors. Tools like the Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter® exemplify this transformation in construction. The FieldPrinter revolutionizes construction layout by automating the process and virtually eliminating the likelihood of errors during layout execution. Because the FieldPrinter guarantees measurements and placements are accurate the first time, rework and costly corrections are minimized. 

In the Turner case study below, we go into more detail about how FieldPrinter can reduce rework on your construction project. Turner Construction used the FieldPrinter to directly print plans on the construction site of the 20-story Natural Resources Headquarters. The process was completed ten times faster than they could with traditional methods: the FieldPrinter allowed them to complete 42,000 square feet of layout in 5 days with only a single person involved.

Optimize Cost Estimates

Digital workflows also make it easier to optimize cost estimates. Through the integration of cost estimation software and other digital tools, construction professionals can achieve accurate and efficient assessments of project costs. Cost estimation software provides a comprehensive analysis of project requirements, material costs, and labor expenses for a more precise estimation of budgetary needs. Additionally, digital workflows allow for real-time updates, enabling project teams to adapt quickly to changes and reduce the risk of cost overruns

To see how businesses can harness the power of digital workflow in cost estimation, look no further than our work with Skanska on the Sutter Health Samaritan Court project. The FieldPrinter shaved three months from the construction schedule without risking costly rework. Skanska saved 6,864 man-hours and achieved 100% layout accuracy, protecting time and money. 

Improve Safety

Finally, digital workflows improve safety. Integrating digital tools, safety protocols, and guidelines can be disseminated more efficiently as all team members are well-informed about potential hazards and preventive measures. Additionally, real-time reporting and data analytics within digital workflows enable proactive identification of safety concerns, allowing organizations to address issues promptly and implement continuous improvements in safety procedures. 

Choosing the right automated workflow solutions is vital for your construction organization’s continued success. They allow you to remain competitive in an increasingly fast-paced, demanding environment. When you opt for a solution like the Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter, you gain a competitive advantage by overcoming frustrations like rework and layout delays. 

For more information, get the white paper How to Choose an Automated Layout Solution.

Dusty Robotics Team
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February 21, 2024