Finding Opportunity in the Complexity

Digital support services offer multiple benefits that can help contractors up their competitive edge.
By Nathan Baxter
December 13, 2022

The days when ceilings and walls were mainly an after-thought in the design of an interior build or renovation are long gone. The once standard directive of “choose something neutral” that won’t fight with the rest of the décor, has been replaced by a new appreciation architects and designers have for the aesthetic contributions walls and ceilings make as an integral part of the environment. Eager to gain customers by offering something unique and fresh, architects and designers are literally and figuratively pushing all types of boundaries—and thanks to some amazing product innovations, they are able to keep raising the bar. Today’s clients, therefore, expect greater individuality and ingenuity in their designs. But that’s not all. They are demanding these projects be completed faster, cost efficiently and with impeccable precision. Moreover, all this is happening in a society hyper focused on protecting the planet.

All of these dynamics have converged to make the job of the contractor incredibly complex. For at the end of the day it is the contractor who has to balance all the demands of a project and successfully bring the vision to life—while, at the same time supporting their own business growth. There’s no denying it’s a tall order. However, through the use of emerging digital services, such as the Armstrong ProjectWorks Design and Preconstruction Service, that offer complete design-to-installation support, today’s contractor can realize opportunity from the complexity. Digital support services offer multiple benefits that can help contractors up their competitive edge and position themselves as an expert in meeting today’s demand for intricate ceiling and wall designs. Here are three of the top advantages digitally assisted support services offer.

Faster, more confident bidding

Digital services are revolutionizing the way contractors bid a project. For instance, ceiling solutions can be digitalized and, when applied to a reflective ceiling plan (RCP) layout, automate the exact quantities of every component needed for that project. This capability greatly increases the accuracy of materials needed on the jobsite. Ultimately, digitalization takes the guesswork out of estimating and replaces the hope “that I have everything accounted for” with a total materials package in which the contractor can be fully confident. More importantly, this capability is scalable and not mutually exclusive to one segment or industry. Digital services allow contractors to bid confidently on any caliber of project. Further, the technical programming for these services significantly expedites the bidding process by providing contractors quick turnaround and a comprehensive bill of materials. As ceiling and wall designs handed down from architect to contractor become increasingly complex, this ability to accurately and quickly bid a project offers contractors a critical competitive advantage.

Start-to-finish project planning and support

In addition to digitalizing the takeoff process, these services simplify and accelerate project installation by providing contractors with one, convenient and complete drawing package to guide them every step of the way. Digital technology can evaluate a project scope while considering the installation process. As a result, any potential issues, like perimeter hardware clashing, can be vetted before any materials reach the jobsite. Drawing packages should include a bill of materials, accurate and comprehensive finish schedules for all components across the project, clear layouts and highly detailed drawings and schematics that enable seamless installation. No matter how complex the project, the right digital service eliminates the ambiguity in how the product will actually be installed in the built environment and supports an end result that perfectly reflects the design vision.

Fewer wasted hours and materials on the job

The best digital service will take the lead and collaborate with architects in the design phase of a project to clearly understand the materials needed to execute the design intent. Then, once a design has been solidified, that digital service will collaborate with the contractor to revise plans based on actual jobsite conditions. By streamlining the entire project process, from design and quoting through takeoffs and installation, digitalization eliminates the time that may have been wasted backtracking to fix mistakes. In addition, digital technology can optimize solutions within a project space based on scrap reusability. For example, digitalization can analyze every cut panel at the perimeter of a ceiling and determine if the cut-away scrap can be used in another perimeter location. This significantly reduces materials, providing a huge cost savings for the contractor while helping to facilitate sustainable construction practices. This level of collaboration, project efficiency and materials reduction are especially critical for projects with tight budgets and/or time constraints. Ultimately, these benefits will enable a project to be completed on or ahead of schedule and allow contractors to move more quickly to their next job.

In choosing a partner offering digital services, the service should offer complete support and bring designers, architects, product manufacturers and the contractor into the process. Every asset provided needs to be integrated into the entire project—avoiding one-off support such as one source for estimating, another for product ordering, and so forth. In addition, the service should never be exclusively digitalized. The strongest services respect and leverage the value of human collaboration on everything from design evaluation to ways to enhance the digital technology. Lastly, a digital service that is complimentary says a great deal about the value that provider puts on engaging in a true partnership with the contractor. After all, the service will make their product look stellar as well as put the contractor in the best light and, ultimately, satisfy everyone—designer, architect and client.

The drive for more intricate, stand-out ceiling and wall design is here to stay—and indications are that the demand and complexity of these products will continue to grow. Within this reality exist many opportunities for contractors to rise to the occasion with digitally assisted project planning.

by Nathan Baxter

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