A local affiliate of a huge international general contractor undertook the design and construction of a Japanese tool manufacturing hall. The investor is Japanese, the general constructor is Hungarian, the designers are French and English, the construction companies are different Eastern-European companies.
After a dynamic start off the project almost ended in a dead-end road: the FTP collapsed, the mail server was not able to handle the huge amount of attachments, the subcontractors worked from outdated plans, and language difficulties also impeded the processes of the construction. Fortunately the solution has been found…
The main problems
#1: Finding the data
One of the biggest problems was that they worked with huge amount of data, they handled many plans within a project, moreover there were several revisions of each project to be handled. These were stored at a central FTP-drive, but the plans were not organised properly, and in case of substitution, colleagues responsible for organising the plans could hardly find any files that were needed. Many times it has not been recognised that new plans were uploaded. And this is not surprising: just try to recognise a new file in the 5th level of a folder, among 600 pdf and dwg files.
#2: Language barriers
Another huge problem was that there were many colleagues among the project managers of the Japanese investor who did not speak English at all. This fact meant a great challenge for the management of the general contractor.
#3: Information flow
The management was not prepared for the large volume information flow that was otherwise normal in a large construction project. They started with the standard e-mail communication and it lead to a chaos.
The following situation occurred many times during the project:
The building was already under construction, but the constructors discovered an error in the plan. They called their supervisor who called his supervisor, who also called his supervisor, who finally called the engineering office.
The designer in the office did the rework on the plan, and sent it to his supervisor. His supervisor sent the plans to the general contractor. The administrator of the general contractor initialised the approval process within the company: she sent the plan to the project manager, he forwarded it to the technical controller, he forwarded it to the financial department.
For some reason the financial department rejected it: there were something to be modified on the plan. But in the meantime the administrator of the company unfortunately sent the plans to the colleagues working on the site, who were in the belief that this was already the new, approved plan, and they started to work according to it.
We all know, that when a constructor works from wrong plans for weeks, it might imply very serious consequences: acting like this, the contractor caused damage (without his direct fault), simply by working from a non-approved plan. They themselves are not able to control the plans, and they simply followed the standard protocol: they knew that when they get a plan from the administrator, they have to print it out and they are ready to work based upon it.
Not too long after that, when they realised that they wasted a couple of hundred thousand EURs, due to the hassle they overloaded the mail system, that stalled due to the huge amount of attachments. Therefor everybody was allowed to connect to the FTP-server, which was not prepared for this kind of load and collapsed.
The project soon turned a nightmare at the middle of the construction. Everybody worked overtime, and the deadline was around the corner.
That was the time when we came into the picture.
One colleague of the general constructor has already heard about the my.Plan software, and on a nice sunny Thursday they contacted us, and asked for a presentation appointment for the soonest. On the following Monday we presented the software to the management and to their professionals. All of them soon immediately realised that this is exactly what they needed. We ran into one shortcoming only: the Japanese language was not among the supported languages in the software.
Solutions for finding the data
This is a feature of our software, that plans has to be uploaded only once to a common platform, and these can be accessed according to the rights of the different participants. Another very important feature of myPlan is, that revisions are arranged underneath the documents, so the project can be easily browsed by non-professionals too, even if it was a very large, several million EUR project, and there were many revisions belong to a plan.
Solutions for language barriers
The myPlan system recently can communicate in 15 languages at native speaker level. We easily and quickly solved the problem of the Japanese language: on Monday, right after the meeting we sent the English source files to our language solution provider. They sent us the translated software strings in Japanese already on Wednesday, and we imported the new language feature with two clicks. So translations of the software strings are not machine translated with Google Translate, but are done with professional technical translators of our international language solution provider. When the Japanese constructor was invited into the project, the invitation for him was already sent out in Japanese. Everybody can use the software on his/her own language from the first moment. Our client was very happy about one of our new improvements: there is a button, which automatically translates the manually entered texts (for example folder names, comments). Of course this latter function won’t ever be perfect, but it is good enough to help orientation in the documentation, and to understand each other when we don’t speak a common language.
Solutions for information flow
MyPlan can boast with a completely unique approval system that can cover any kind of approval workflow. There are approval levels that can be set, people can be assigned for the different levels. It can be specified, how many approvals are needed within a certain level in order to have approval fulfilled on that level, released to the next level. Notifications are sent to the relevant people calling their attention to the approvals to do. This was exactly what our client needed: for example, when the Finance rejects a plan, everybody should clearly see that the plan was rejected, and the designer – after checking the reasons (it is also possible to draw on the plans beside commenting it) – can already start to work on the correction.
From that point there became a QR-code in the corner of the plans that were handed over to the constructor. If the colleagues scan this QR-code with any kind of smartphone (even without special application) they can see a red, yellow or green screen.
- Green: this is the latest revision and it is also approved.
- Yellow: although this is the latest revision, it is not approved yet.
- Red: the revision is rejected or there is newer revision in the system – or both conditions at the same time.
By clicking on the small arrow icon other details can be viewed that are not sensitive information from business point of view. For example, if there was an outdated revision in the hands of a colleague, he can immediately check, which revision does he have to look for.
It was only a couple of minutes to set up the myPlan.cloud system, and a clever admin colleague uploaded (and at the meantime organised) the documentation within a day. It became clear from one day to the other for the approximately 80 project participants what are their duties and what can they work from. There were no more losses deriving from handling outdated or faulty plans.
According to the client’s feedback one of the greatest pleasant surprise was that the did not have to send the colleagues for training. Everybody was able to use the software right away after viewing a one-hour tutorial video. And this did not apply only to office personnel, designers, but also for those who are not so educated in IT solutions.
The construction of the tool manufacturing hall has been finished in order.