Call it what you will – construction management, construction inspection, construction engineering services, construction management for fee – the services provided by the consultant after the study and design phase and as actual construction is taking place is a vast part of the total transportation asset market, as much as a third by some estimates.
I say ‘a major transportation asset of one sort or another’ and there was a reason for that, as CM spans all the modes – freight rail, passenger rail, highways and bridges, structures along the supply chain, the ports, trucking, energy, and the Federal government. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? We are dealing with the built environment in these cases, linear or vertical, not spreadsheets or new games for our smartphones, and it’s the word ‘built’ in the phrase ‘built environment’ that is doing the heavy lifting in this sentence.
CM preserves the owner/designer/contractor dynamic with all its checks and balances, and serves as the owner’s representative and champion on the project. Construction management varies widely across infrastructure – best practices in the field associated with the build of a water treatment plant are quite a bit different than those for a power generating station and both are different still from a bridge or a stretch of highway. Most often though the practice includes:
- Project administration
- Construction inspection
- Constructability review
- Project controls/document management
- Cost estimating and cost control
- Change order management
- Quality assurance
- Materials inspection
- Risk mitigation
- Claim resolution
- Project closeout
Local presence and knowledge of local conditions, these are valuable across the entire transportation sector, and no less so in construction management. The goals are easy enough to name – ensuring adherence to quality, schedule and budget throughout the construction phase as well as bringing solutions to both the owner and the contractor on a day to day basis – but of course the challenges are many and there are numerous technical, schedule, cost and human factors that must be apprised every working day until the ribbon cutting.
The opportunity is strong to supplement the client’s staff in this matter, as the overall makeup of the client base in several of the sectors we serve are changing day to day. It’s worth mentioning too that client practices and even funding of CM varies considerably from state to state. It’s a scrambling, on-call, no lead time type of work, and the guys and gals that do it here are a breed unto their own, similar in their own problem-solving way to our bridge inspection corps. Technical knowledge is bound up with onsite savvy and IT tools and at the end of the day, make the client happy.
Construction management has always had a big place here at TranSystems – matter of fact several members of the leadership come right out of that specialty – and we expect it to do nothing but grow for many years to come. – lsm
TranSystems is a company of experts, including many in construction management. Tony Albert in the Chicago office is one.
Anthony J. Albert PE