The role of the Army National Guard has expanded significantly since 9/11 and represents 40% of the U.S. Army’s total combat capability supporting Joint Commanders across the range of military operations around the globe.
Critical to this mission is the successful planning, contracting, monitoring, and management of Guard facilities construction and maintenance. This challenging task falls on the Construction and Facilities Management Office (CFMO) who must constantly maintain and access infrastructure data. Yet, without centrally-based electronic-based records, getting timely access to critical information proved difficult, and often that data proved unreliable.
If an office leader needed project data quickly, they’d have to rely on others to retrieve drawings. Alao, key personnel were often called into active deployment, leaving knowledge gaps that negatively impacted the CFMO’s daily operations.
Something had to change. Efficiencies needed to be realized, audit compliance improved, and creating a single point of reference for project information was a must.
This is when the CFMO engaged industry partners to help them analyze their procedures and bring continuity and accuracy to their as-built records by digitizing them and storing them within an easily accessible central repository.
The immediate goal was to roll the final tool out to all Guard sites within the CFMO’s jurisdiction and give facility managers time-saving access to online documents. A longer-term vision would link the visualization tool to building controls to enable managers to control and monitor HVAC, security, and more from their mobile devices.
To accomplish this, they identified a strategy and executed on it in two phases:
- Phase One: Capturing Organizational Best Practices – The first phase involved the project team conducting a process mapping effort that outlined Guard best practices and captured what was needed to meet regulatory requirements. Documentation was also provided with instruction for any new or existing Guard staff.
- Phase Two: 3D Model Capture and Data Visualization – The second phase focused on laser scanning facilities and converting them to 3D models. This captured highly accurate, as-built information about the facilities, including important data such as the amount of money spent on buildings, project completion percentages, square footage reports, room composition, and more. Model could also be leveraged in emergency situations since they provide line-of-sight information. A web-based visualization tool then integrated the models to provide multiple capabilities, including a map-based view of each state, the ability to; zoom in on a specific facility, the capability to click to bring up 3D maps and the potential to navigate to specific rooms.
Today, the resulting project information system saves time for team members and puts greater control in the hands of users. If city officials need to schedule a facility or retrieve existing lease agreements, this data can be searched for – and accessed – through an online search. The database saves time for everyone – staff members are not interrupted to assist, and individuals are able to access the data as needed.
Storing project information in digital form and in a centralized database also reduces the risk of lost or damaged paper drawings.
The National Guard has an essential and expanding mission and the CFMO has the unenviable task of managing, maintaining and constructing the organization’s facilities. With this centralized information database, they now have a resource that gives them back the time previously spent on repetitive tasks so they can focus on better accomplishing their mission.