In the Oscar-winning movie Moonstruck, the family patriarch played by Vincent Gardenia proclaims in a moment of exasperation, “Everything is temporary!” He might have derived this life lesson from his work as a plumber.
Everything on a construction site is temporary. There’s the obvious, like office trailers and portable toilets. And the not so obvious, like quality systems and business relationships.
An enduring quality system should be as important as the building’s foundation. But it just doesn’t pencil out for a principal project partner to make the investment. As a result, contractors can end up recording the conditions on multi-million-dollar projects using paper forms and standalone spreadsheets that the quality manager created from scratch.
To put this in perspective, it would seem utterly absurd for a factory with a $50 million operating budget to rely on similar ad-hoc documents. Yet, according to the JBKnowledge 2016 Construction Technology Report, one in three construction professionals report using manual methods or personal spreadsheets to manage their projects — and three in five collect field data using those same methods. It’s ultimately up to the fiduciary partners (banks, investors, and insurers) who have a long-term interest in the success of the building to demand a method that makes information more visible and easier to transfer.
Improved systems for documenting and monitoring construction would reduce defects, thereby adding significant value to a building. Construction cameras that continuously capture high-resolution images of the build and make it easy to locate and inspect those images can automate this monitoring process on a large scale.
Users can monitor quality by zooming in on images to inspect details. They can visually verify that work is being done correctly or nail down precisely where and when something went wrong. By catching and correcting errors early, costs are minimized and quality is maintained. And more users mean mistakes are more likely to be detected.
Construction cameras can even prevent errors through what’s known as the observer effect: When people are being observed, they alter their behavior. On the construction site, this can translate to crews double-checking their work or resisting pressure to work faster when quality might suffer.
The payoff for such a system continues over the useful life of the building, with the details of construction easily accessible years after the last bit of temporary fencing has been hauled away.