Automatic quantity calculation improves construction project management – and saves money

It is significantly easier to manage a construction project and avoid extra costs when quantities and costs can be tracked in real-time. BIM Manager Sebastian Nybäck from Fimpec explains how this can be achieved with Fimpec’s automatic quantity calculation service and what benefits it offers to users.

In large construction projects, it is common for budgets, schedules, or both to fail. For example, Bent Flybjerg’s research Introduction: The Iron Law of Megaproject Management study (The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management, Oxford University Press, 2017), notes that 91.5 percent of megaprojects exceed their budget or schedule. In large construction projects, the average budget overrun is 62 percent. The database used in the study included 16,000 construction projects from 136 countries.

A significant contributing factor to budget overruns is usually poor management of quantity data. Often, the connection between the budget and actual quantities and costs is lost during the construction project, and worst of all, too often this gap between the plan and project cost realization is only revealed in the final calculation, causing an unpleasant surprise. It is difficult to address these problems and prevent the accumulation of extra costs when there is no numeric data available during the project.

The reason for losing this connection is the manual calculation process used in quantity calculation, where quantities and their resulting costs are calculated from the plan. Manual quantity calculation is expensive, and that’s why it’s only done at certain stages of the project. In recent years, a solution to this problem has been sought through data models, but investments in them rarely pay off because the model is not effectively optimized and utilized.

Real-time information on project progress

However, this does not have to be the case. Technologies, modelling expertise, and the ability to process large amounts of data have developed rapidly in recent years, enabling among other things, the automation of quantity calculation and thus its transformation into a continuous process, even though the equation is still not easy.

At Fimpec, we have seized these opportunities and combined them with our extensive expertise and experience in large industrial construction projects as well as BIM-based cost, in which Fimpec pioneers in. Based on this, we have developed automatic quantity calculation based on IFC models used in 3D engineering. They provide the necessary data, for which we have developed an automatically functioning process for classifying, enriching, and refining it into user-friendly form, providing continuously updating quantity information for monitoring the construction project and decision-making.

We are pleased about the result and believe that it will elevate cost management in large industrial investment projects to a new level and meet the demands of today. Therefore, it is the market’s only automated quantity calculation service that provides real-time information on the progress of the project throughout the project from initial planning to final calculation. With this service, it is possible to monitor quantities and their changes accurately and by area. This enables decisions to be based on real situations and correct figures, not just a plan. This avoids unpleasant surprises during the project and at the end, avoids overestimation of quantities, reduces decision-related uncertainty, enables immediate intervention in schedule as well as cost deviations.

Potential savings of 2–5 percent in costs

From the client’s perspective, the essential benefit of automatic quantity calculation is that by using real-time information, unnecessary costs can be prevented, thereby achieving savings. When the project is managed with the support of automatic quantity calculation and cost management, the potential for cost prevention varies from 2 to 5 percent depending on the size of the project compared to the traditional project model. Savings occur in several areas of the project:

In addition, a good data model and correct planning save maintenance costs. Likewise, rapid completion of the project saves capital costs and enables rapid start-up of operations. Cost and time savings also result from the constantly updated quantity calculation, as the material required for the final calculation is essentially ready when the construction project is completed, and the final calculation is done with little effort.

One additional advantage is the traceability of quantity calculation data, as each of the sums produced by the service can be explored, broken down into parts, and traced back to what it consists of. Thus, it can be shown how the price of each area is formed from different components, their location, and which plan they originate from. From a future perspective, the benefit is that project data becomes available to the end client. It offers the opportunity for the client to learn from their own projects and utilize information in future projects in a completely new way.

All this is achieved with costs that are about 20 percent lower than in a project where equivalent quantity calculation is done manually. Therefore, we dare to promise that investing in automatic quantity calculation will pay off many times over in a construction project.

Easy to implement

One of the advantages of the service is that it does not require any special skills or expertise from the client. The only requirement is that the client commits to 3D engineering because the information obtained from it is the basis of the calculation. Nothing out of the ordinary is required, just systematicity.

From the perspective of a construction project, it is beneficial that Fimpec is involved in defining the modelling requirements from the very beginning. Acquiring the service is possible even in the later stages of the project, but then it likely requires additional work. In the early stages, the possibilities for influence are at their highest because the operating methods can be agreed upon with the engineers right from the beginning and get systematicity to work better. Likewise, making any changes in the early stages is easiest and the costs of changes are low.

In this article, I have intentionally focused solely on our automatic quantity calculation service. However, it can also be supplemented with other services, such as participatory cost management service, which in addition offers quantity calculation service throughout the project, expert support, guidance in engineering, verification of changes, and coordination of participatory cost management between parties throughout the project.

Writer Sebastian Nybäck works as BIM Manager at Fimpec and has played a key role in the development of automated quantity calculations.

If you are interested in learning more about automatic quantity calculations and related proactive and participatory decision-making, please contact

Johan Appelqvist
Operative Director, Cost Management
+358 50 466 0907

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