Posts Tagged Virtual Construction
I wanted to bring some attention to a recent article in the Daily Commercial News & Construction Record by Korky Koruluk, and included the first 2 paragraphs below.
Once in a generation, perhaps, a new technology comes along that enables rapid innovation and change. Sometimes, too, such change leads to a whole new batch of companies that pursue the changes aggressively, while their older, larger competitors are still trying to figure out what happened.
I’ve a hunch that Building Information Modeling—BIM—is one such technology. And I suspect that it is going to cause problems for some firms that have, perhaps, become too comfortable in their own markets.
Transformative technology has led to major disruption in the past, and there may still be a few construction veterans around who remember at least the tail end of one big one: the evolution of mechanical excavators.
Clay Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, wrote an influential book in 1997 called “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.”
I don’t think this is so much a warning anymore but a reaffirmation of what most firms in the A/E/C space realize which it is now time to invest in technology to help you manage projects better but also help differentiate you in the marketplace. If last 1/4 is any indication of the next one, the market will remain squirrelly and cost at bid and cost controls will be the defining factor and whatever tool will help you lock that down, get it, use it, win it.
While one might argue what entails Field BIM Vela released a case study where they integrated their process on top of Tekla’s BIM. DPR Construction replaced all their paper logging and tracking systems with VELA’s field software for digital tracking, specifically the doors and frames. Inventory was tracked the entire way through delivery and installation, plus deliveries could be checked for completeness and damaged products. All this information was then made available in real time to all parties.
Tekla and Nemetschek recently announced a ‘mutual agreement on cooperation’ while I’m not sure what that means, the press release states it provides the framework for collaborating on future projects. Tekla mainly focuses on the design to construction of steel and concrete structures where as Nemetschek focuses on the BIM authoring side with Vectorworks.
Most likely if you’re reading this post you’ve drank the cool aid and believe in BIM and Revit, you’re a convert, but what has been come fantastically apparent is the need to educate the need for it on the front end, and why the 20/80 rule may not apply, that is 20% soft costs, 80% building. We have seen where productivity has been stagnant within the construction industry, because more elaborate buildings, systems, etc. using the same technology for scheduling, drafting, design negated any other positive gains. On the flip side people are reporting such massive prodcutivity gains by using BIM and Revit you would think that any owner/developer would be demanding it on the front end and willing to pay for it, cue the GSA, State of Wisconsin, State of Texas, etc. However, there is still a huge knowledge gap.
GC’s are paving the way for BIM. They know that in order to do the work that is being created they have to be on board with Revit and BIM and they will be the ones ultimately responsible for the task, coordination and updating of the BIM.
The GC will use Revit as a cost savings tool. How does this effect the developer/owner? Might be invisible to them, as in, the process works like they expect it to, more often than not projects coming in on-time and on-budget, more competitive bids with firms knowing they can reduce problems (see zero defect building) digitally, and schedule better. It’s a nail gun instead of a hammer.
Which brings me to the legal liability side of BIM, which I know nothing about but feel like I need to comment on, and I will tell you why.
I was preparing for a meeting with a University we did some work for, as they wanted to see what Revit could do for them as they asked for existing conditions plans in Revit just so they had the information/data about the building. This was an architectural BIM with an RCP. I called a friend who has nice sized GC firm that does a lot of academic work and asked if they could share some success stories about using Revit that I could share in my presentation.
He put me in touch with their MEP coordinator, who first told me his history. He had his own HVAC install company for 20 years, went back to school to be trained in AutoCAD, and got other certificates (too many acronyms for me to remember), and then got trained up in Revit 2 years ago. He had been with this firm for 10 years, so figure at around 50 he’s knocking this stuff out of the park. He explained how he used to coordinate all the plans in AutoCAD, put each discipline on a a different layer/color and then go to work determining the issues in 2D. Using Revit he would model everything in 3D, and since he was from the industry knew drain slopes, HVAC runs, etc. and without using collision detection software was finding stuff, such beam penetrations and drains intersecting with footings that you could imagine a ton of time/money. GC’s will use it because it is a better tool.
Here’s the legal part for those of you scratching your head. In his most recent project the architect said they had modeled the whole thing in Revit but would not share the model with him and only sent out the 2D plans. Somewhere there’s a screw loose and it has to be on the liability front. His thought was they were using young modelers that were not grounded in the profession so the interaction between everything would not be completely apparent to them so assumptions when modeling were not correct. The contractor themselves might want to model it themselves because they would then have more confidence in the model. However, when #1 cost for interoperability which is in the billions is the manual reentering of data you would hope this issue is being worked on to be resolved.
How’s this breaks out financially between firms and how much of a building’s cost moves to the virtual construction department? Well I’ll start digging but if any reader out there has some data please post, as it will help us all sell projects.
When I first started my company at one of our presentations after explaining we could capture as-builts in 3D, then ADT, now Revit, one of the architects in the room stood up and emphatically said, “we don’t want ANY Z-axis information.” To which I replied, “not a problem we can flatten all the drawings.” But that response still resonates with me, how could anyone not want Z- axis information, how come you would want me to strip all the meta data of an object to just a block, to which I have found out, you do not mess with the workflow of an architect’s office so it is of little surprise that construction mangers seem to be the current biggest adopters of BIM and Revit as they are ultimately on the hook for cost management. With that said you have construction managers around the country opening up virtual construction offices to figure out the design, reduce collisions, schedule sub-contracts, etc. before a shovel is ever put in the ground. This is a big change in the zeitgeist since before everyone looked at soft costs, (i.e. engineering and design) as some fuzzy math and did not appreciate it as much as pouring concrete or erecting steel, as that was at least the physical embodiment of the money developers put up. Getting digital files that could fit on a thumb drive just did not seem big enough. Virtual construction has proven itself to pay for itself may times over through quicker build time, less collisions, better decision making, etc and BIM is enabling it. Viva la Z Axis.