Using technology is about more than just implementing a piece of software. It’s about establishing that ever-important backend framework around the process you are looking to automate. In many cases, this requires builders to work with technology providers in more all-encompassing ways than usual.
Take Winchester Homes, www.winchesterhomes.com, Bethesda, Md., as one example. This builder used to have high design cycle times for bringing a home to a ground-breaking, not to mention unpredictable and long building cycles times. Any delay would add an equal amount of “waste” to the production cycle, and Winchester was looking for new ways to flush inefficiencies out of the operation.
This can be a perfect case of technology not always streamlining the process. Winchester discovered that a program it was running for design was actually adding to the proliferation of plans and documents, which in the end added to cycle times.
To help solve the challenge Winchester has partnered with CG Visions, www.cgvisions.com, Lafayette, Ind., to implement a more comprehensive CAD system that worked to counter this increase of cycle times. In fact, CG Visions has stayed on with Winchester to work as an extension to its internal design department where it helps create a single version that all partners work off of on jobs. This has added benefits, such as the creation of an automated bill-of-materials and a reduction in cost and added efforts associated with the unnecessary creation of documents.
As another example, Oakwood Homes, www.oakwoodhomesco.com, Denver, Colo., views the use of technology as being a partnership with its key software vendors. This philosophy was very apparent recently in its efforts to differentiate itself in a crowded market by focusing more on customization of its homes. This type of customization goes beyond simple upgrades, to things like structural options.
Such efforts can be highly expensive to executive without some comprehensive integration between design, sales and option-selection, and component manufacturing. Like with the case of Winchester, Oakwood Homes sought out more than simple technology solutions from its vendors in order to establish the right framework that would work behind the scenes to create a process that was as close to “seamless” as possible.
Working closely with its technology providers MiTek, www.mitek-us.com, Chesterfield, Mo., Simpad www.simad.com, Woburn, Mass., and KOVA Solutions, www.kovasolutions.com, Woburn, Mass., Oakwood was able to establish a process that made the creation of such a solution a much easier endeavor. In fact, by working closely with its technology providers, Oakwood was able to uncover even more processes that could help.
Both Winchester Homes and Oakwood Homes are prime examples of how technology can be more than simple a solution to a challenge. By working with the right partners and establishing the correct processes (in a team effort), builders can use technology to their advantage in new ways.
Both builders have achieved considerable ROI from their efforts and are up for a ConstructechVision Award, which will be handed out on September 14 in the suburbs of Chicago.