Business & Finance
Commentary
1/23/2004
05:51 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
Commentary
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Editor's Note: Shifting Gears To Build Efficiently

For several years, I worked in a news bureau where a fellow journalist could often be seen typing up a late-breaking story on an old-fashioned, manual typewriter. A typewriter! This was the early '90s. Granted, we didn't have the most advanced, sophisticated PC and broadband technologies in the office at the time, but we did have computers and a network. Turns out, it was just his preference. As a longtime journalist, it was what he was most comfortable with. In a few more years, it will seem arcane for any journalist to take notes with pen and paper since most of us conduct interviews with our laptops. But, hey, at least we have the option of becoming more automated, more productive, and more efficient, thanks to technology.

I thought about this fellow journalist as I learned more about the building-construction industry, which is on the brink of replacing its tools of the trade--pencils, paper, plaster-of-Paris models, and outdated design applications--with far more sophisticated software tools that combine 3-D drawings, project data, and more in a collaborative environment for the architects, engineers, and builders. If done right, it will strip out inefficiencies, costs, mistakes, and time.

On the one hand, there's only so much you can do to speed up the actual construction of a building. Uncontrollable factors such as snow, rain, and sunset can hinder productivity. But a lot more can be done to speed the design process. For an industry that's used to transforming bricks, steel, and glass into impressive, sometimes enormous, structures of art, it's time for some business-technology transformation. See p. 22 to learn more about what's on the horizon for the building and construction industry.

Stephanie Stahl
Editor
sstahl@cmp.com


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