Design coordination and its role in digital project delivery

By Chris Bak | July 12, 2023

Digital project delivery tools, while new, are becoming increasingly vital to the success of today’s projects. To affect this significant shift in a positive way, team members and stakeholders must be aligned with how these tools function and how they influence the overall design reviews, schedule, quality, and safety of their projects.

With a new shift toward building digital assets for digital twins, and a new emphasis on the importance of good meta data, design coordination is an important piece of the engineering puzzle. Using effective collaboration methods with multidisciplinary teams within the digital project delivery model, digital coordinators must help organizations oversee an increase in project efficiency and cost, and ultimately, keep stakeholders in line with their projects and targets.

What is engineering design coordination?

Every engineering project has siloed components, with each stakeholder or contractor preoccupied with meeting their own deadlines and targets. In an industry of forward-thinking, creative, and independent-minded people, it can be easy for communication and collaboration to fall off the list of priorities.

A good project design coordinator uses diplomacy and tact to communicate effectively with different audiences while ensuring individual needs—as well as the needs of the project and client—are met. Ultimately, the coordinator oversees the individual components of a project and keeps them in line with the overarching deadlines and goals.

This is done by balancing ideas from engineering disciplines with the overall project goals. The right person for this role is an excellent overseer who doesn’t shy away from introducing new tools and technologies to the client.

3D design models, spatial data, and properties

In construction industries that often prefer drawings over modeling, there is work to be done by project design coordinators in order to demonstrate the value and efficiency of the technological advances that digital project delivery tools provide.

3D design models, spatial data, and properties add significant value in engineering and construction. The project design coordinator helps ensure that the project has access to these valuable tools and that team members are using them to their full potential.

Here are some ways these tools are valuable:

  1. Visualization. 3D design models allow for visualization of a digital asset before it is physically built, which can help identify design flaws and potential improvements.
  2. Simulation. Spatial data and properties can be used to simulate real-world conditions and testing.
  3. Collaborative design. 3D design models and spatial data can be easily shared and accessed by different stakeholders, which promotes collaboration and improves communication throughout the design and construction process.
  4. Cost reduction through clash detection. The use of 3D design models and spatial data can help reduce costs by identifying potential problems early on, optimizing designs, and reducing the need for physical prototypes.
  5. Construction deliverables and safety. 3D design models and spatial data can be used to identify safety hazards and improve safety measures during construction or operation of a digital asset.
  6. 4D (schedule analysis) and 5D (cost analysis) models can be used to analyze project information, identify and mitigate complex project execution problems, and transfer information to the client.

3D design models are one of the first steps to creating a controlled, common data environment in which all project participants can contribute, allowing users to better plan and execute project work.

Overcoming obstacles

Engineering design projects often involve tight deadlines and high expectations. Clients may be eager to see results, and project managers may be pushing to meet ambitious timelines. This creates a sense of urgency, making it challenging to coordinate multiple stakeholders and keep everyone on the same page.

Effective communication needs to be at the forefront of digital project delivery, with equal importance given to every stakeholder. It’s the project design coordinator’s role to establish expectations and ensure that big ideas are grounded, while taking care that engineers don’t think too far ahead without considering the overall health of the project.

When disciplines get ahead of each other to meet specific deadlines, or they’re waiting on other disciplines for specific information, it can become detrimental to the entire project. Having the ability to see the big picture and to work with all parties involved allows the design coordinator to quickly get answers and help keep the team on track.

Along with the importance of proper communication, it’s also vital to oversee proper technology training. Training can be efficient in the simplest forms, and by properly showing project team members how easy these tools can be and how the tools can increase overall efficiency, project coordinators can go a long way toward making the project successful. Training like this—specifically, on-the-job training or via a lunch-and-learn session—comes at a small cost and increases the project efficiency, ultimately adding value to our clients.

At Hatch, we have seen the positive effects of modeling and encourage the move toward new uses of digital project delivery tools. Contact us to find out how these tools and services can be implemented to your new and existing projects.