Technology innovation

Improving the construction process through digital submission

Tuesday , June 13, 2023
7 minutes read
Improving the construction process through digital submission

The traditional methods of handling submissions fall short, leading to delays, miscommunications, and administrative challenges. Fortunately, with the advent of technology, construction professionals now have access to advanced management platforms that streamline the submission process, revolutionizing how projects are executed. Let's dive into this article to learn about this solution.

1. Submittal in the construction industry

1.1 What is construction submittal

A construction submittal refers to submitting various documents, samples, and materials to the architect, engineer, or general contractor for review and approval during a construction project. It is an essential part of the project's documentation and communication process. Construction submittals ensure that all the materials, equipment, and products being used in the project meet the specified requirements, design intent, and applicable codes and standards.

Unlike processes like closeout and as-builts, which are meant to be completed after construction, the submittals process starts in early project phases and helps guide how the project will actually be executed. 

1.2 Why do submittals matter?

Before commencing construction, it is crucial to review and obtain approval for every aspect of the project, including equipment, materials, and even specific details like paint colors. This is done through a process called submittals. 

Depending on the project, this process can involve a large number of items, such as:

  • Product cut sheets that identify the manufacturer, specifications, and model number
  • Shop drawings that lay out the dimensions of prefabricated products such as trusses, cast concrete, windows, appliances, millwork, and more
  • Color and finish selections
  • Color charts
  • Finished product components
  • Material data
  • Samples and more

These submittal documents play a vital role in ensuring a successful construction project, as they provide a detailed view of the project and enable design professionals to approve the equipment, materials, and other elements. Obtaining approval before fabrication and delivery is essential, as rectifying issues afterward can lead to unnecessary delays and cost overruns.

The quality and accuracy of the submittals are also significant. Detailed submittals increase the likelihood of an accurate budget and schedule, contributing to the project's overall success. Given the extensive nature of construction submittals, providing accurate and well-organized information is crucial. Insufficient detail or errors in the submittals log can compromise the entire project.

2. The challenges of submitting by traditional methods

2.1 Complex process

The traditional submission process can be complicated, requiring significant time and resources to systemize and streamline. The complexity may result from multiple steps, manual paperwork, and stakeholder coordination.

2.2 Absence of suitable methods

There is a lack of appropriate methods for accurately documenting the intricate approval process, especially when it involves escalation and references. Existing methods may not adequately capture the details and complexities of the approval workflow, leading to potential confusion or errors.

2.3 Difficulties in accessing evidence and basis

Retrieving the necessary evidence and information that form the basis for approval can be challenging in traditional submission processes. This may include accessing supporting documents, reference materials, or historical records related to the submission. The lack of easy access to such information can hinder efficient review and decision-making.

2.4 Unclear responsibility of involved parties

Traditional methods may result in unclear assignments of responsibilities among the parties involved in the submittal process. It may not be evident who is accountable for specific tasks or who should provide certain approvals. This ambiguity can lead to delays, misunderstandings, and potential conflicts.

To address these challenges, modern construction project management software and digital tools have emerged to streamline the submittal process, provide more transparent accountability, improve access to information, and simplify the overall workflow. These technologies offer more efficient methods for submitting, tracking, reviewing, and approving construction submittals, reducing complexity and enhancing collaboration among project stakeholders.

3. Benefits of adopting technology in the construction submittal process

3.1 Centralized data and enhanced organization

Technology solutions provide a centralized repository for all submittal-related documents. This eliminates the need for physical paperwork and allows for digital organization, reducing the risk of misplacing or losing critical information.

Using a Construction management platform like AECIS, which can effectively centralize data and enhance organization by providing a Digital Platform for managing submittals.

The reports generated by this platform present statistical data on the status of submittals, enabling managers to determine the appropriate timing for their involvement. Additionally, there are comprehensive summaries available to ensure that all submittals are effectively tracked, even if they are inactive.

3.2 Streamlined workflow

Technology streamlines the entire submittal process, reducing the need for extensive paperwork and manual tasks. Digital tools facilitate the creation, submission, and tracking of submittals, automating repetitive steps and ensuring consistency.

Collaborative features enable seamless communication and coordination among project team members, including architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. This streamlining of the workflow helps save time and resources, enabling faster project progress.

3.3 Improved communication

Technology solutions enable real-time communication and collaboration among all stakeholders in the submittal process. Notifications, email alerts, and messaging functionalities ensure all parties stay updated on submittal statuses, changes, and approvals. This improves coordination, minimizes delays, and enhances overall project communication.

3.4 Increased transparency

Adopting technology in the submittal process provides increased transparency. Digital platforms offer a clear audit trail of submittal activities, including document revisions, approvals, and comments. This transparency helps ensure accountability, traceability and facilitates resolving any disputes or discrepancies that may arise during the project.

Furthermore, all stakeholders have the ability to track submittals through a management platform like AECIS, which provides clear statuses and identifies the responsible party for each submission. 

3.5 Faster review and approval

Technology solutions allow reviewers to access submittal documents online, add comments, annotate, and track real-time progress. This eliminates the need for physical distribution of documents and reduces the time required for manual review. 

Approvers have the ability to escalate requests or assign them to other individuals through the Re-assign action via the AECIS platform. Additionally, they can gather references from other parties using the Issue-to action.

In short, by applying software to manage construction projects like AECIS, team members can improve the approval and reference process via the Submittal feature. 

AECIS offers a multi-dimensional approval process that clarifies the roles of submitters and approvers. In addition, the platform and reporting system streamlines the management of all submittals, ensuring efficient organization and optimization.

4. How AECIS can help to improve the submittal process in a real-life project

4.1 The Westgate Project

WestGate Park, situated in Binh Chanh district, is an upscale apartment project. Spanning over 3.1 hectares, the development features four blocks of 20-story high-end apartments, comprising over 2000 residential units, along with Shophouses. With a focus on green living and offering 50 internal amenities, WestGate Park ensures a healthy living environment that harmonizes with nature for families residing in the community.

4.2 AECIS Submittal

AECIS Submittal enhances the management of construction project submissions by engaging all relevant parties, such as the Project Control Group, Designers, Cost Consultant, General Contractor, Nominated Subcontractor, and more. It tailors the process to accommodate the specific needs of each project, ensuring a successful outcome.

This feature brings an outstanding benefit. It enables register management on a multi-dimensional level and provides clarity in the roles of submitters and approvers. 

4.3 What solutions AECIS brings to the Westgate Project?

The Westgate Project faced significant challenges in the construction industry when it came to the complex approval and references process. Therefore, the project team decides to apply AECIS to leverage this platform's benefits and optimize the submission process. This project team applied AECIS Submittal for material submission, changing request, shop drawings, method statements, inspection request, and report…

Without a centralized platform like AECIS, the project can become challenging to ensure that all submittals are on track and promptly addressed by the appropriate parties. The lack of a standardized system can result in delays, miscommunications, and confusion regarding the status and progress of each submission.

By implementing a management platform like AECIS, the project team benefits from a structured and well-defined process. Responsibilities are clearly assigned, and stakeholders can easily navigate through the approval process. This ensures that submissions are efficiently reviewed, resolved, and approved by the relevant parties in a timely manner.

Moreover, AECIS also provides a central repository for recording submission history, eliminating the challenges of retrieving crucial information from scattered communication channels. This centralized database allows stakeholders to track the status of each submission, access previous versions, and refer to comments or feedback provided by reviewers.

5. Conclusion

The construction industry has witnessed a significant transformation in the submission process through the adoption of advanced technology. By embracing management platforms like Aeics, project teams can improve the submittal process more effectively. Therefore, applying technology in management is the best solution for construction companies today.

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