COMIT seeks out innovative technologies and solutions which deliver benefits that can be spread more widely in construction, operations and maintenance or perhaps transferred in from other industries. While COMIT has a healthy interest in future developments and the potential application of new technology, it is firmly anchored in the present.
The best way to demonstrate the benefit of these solutions is by example. It is also the best way to explore the costs, difficulties and uncertainties. Solution providers want to promote the benefits of their products and construction customers want to know about the costs and limitations and how to get the most from the solutions.
By supporting pilot projects and trials, COMIT can provide an objective view of the cost benefits for others to learn from. It gives construction members confidence in a solution and technology members a platform to showcase their wares. Most demonstration projects arise spontaneously at community days. Occasionally they result from a direct approach to COMIT - either from a construction company looking for a solution to a specific problem or from a technology company wanting to trial a new product.
Demonstration projects usually take the form of a limited trial or feasibility study. Typically a construction member provides access to their site or process in exchange for a technology provider deploying a solution at reduced cost – but commercial arrangements vary and are determined by the parties involved.
In some cases COMIT will actively participant in the trial, either by helping to manage the project or by providing relevant expertise. In all cases COMIT will help to document the results of the project and disseminate them as widely as possible.
Demonstration projects generally work best when dealing with solutions that are fairly new to the construction industry, or particular sector within it, but which have been successfully applied elsewhere. In these cases there is often some uncertainty about the cost benefits or practicalities. Demonstration projects give solution providers a chance to prove their value and construction companies a chance to try them out at relatively low risk.
When supporting demonstration projects COMIT tries to answer the following questions:
• What is the problem being addressed?
• What are the cost benefits of the solution?
• How well did it work and what are the limitations?
Depending upon the parties concerned and the nature of the project it is also sometimes possible to look in detail at the effect of the solution on the underlying business processes. Usually where IT fails in construction (and elsewhere) it is because some aspect of the underlying business process has not been fully taken into account.
Understanding how the solution changes the process can also help to clarify the source of the benefits and how they might be reproduced in other companies in different circumstances