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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Constructor Magazine - A publication of the AGC [BIM]

From: http://constructoragc.construction.com/mag/2009_5-6/features/0905-30_AGC.asp

BIM at Its Best
Contractors report big returns on BIM investments
By Bruce Buckley
BIM At Its Best
(Renderings Courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti.)
Contractors have heard a lot of lofty claims about building information modeling in recent years: millions of dollars in savings, months of schedule gains and greater quality control. Now, as the technology gains broader acceptance in the contracting world, many of those promises are turning out to be real payoffs.
As savvy users track their returns on investment from using BIM, the emerging results are eye-opening. Many companies have found ways to shave schedules and save dollars. A November McGraw-Hill Construction survey of AGC BIM Forum members found that among BIM users actively tracking returns on investment, one-third report a return on investment of more than 100%.
In light of such results, the technology is gaining traction. According to an August McGraw-Hill Construction survey, 23% of contractors reported using BIM on at least 60% of their projects during 2008. In 2009, 38% expect to use it at that level, making contractors the fastest-growing user segment in the BIM world.
“Three years ago, contractors were seen as a minor player in the BIM arena,” says John Tocci, CEO of Woburn, Mass.-based Tocci Building Corp., an AGC of Massachusetts member and chairman of the AGC BIM Forum. “Now we see that they are gaining some of the biggest benefits from it.”
BIM At Its Best BIM At Its Best BIM At Its Best
(Renderings Courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti.)
Lining Up With BIM
As contractors begin to realize the value of BIM, many are changing their corporate structure to better leverage it. Gilbane Building Co., Providence, R.I., a member of multiple AGC chapters, firmed up its commitment to BIM in July when it formed a so-called virtual construction department to help champion use of the technology across the company. In addition to getting its regional staff dedicated to BIM, Gilbane has a national staff of engineers that it deploys to jobs or uses for remote help on projects on which BIM is being used.
BIM At Its Best
(Renderings Courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti.)
On a recently completed 96,000-sq-ft data-center project, Gilbane saw a nearly 1,500% return on its BIM-related expenses. Virtual coordination of building trades brought the most apparent benefits. Rather than passing paperwork back and forth between the trades, the team worked together within the model to identify conflicts before they appeared in the field, says Kevin Bredeson, director of virtual construction at Gilbane. He estimates the team cut expected coordination time from four months to two-and-a-half months and saved $86,000.
With 1,445 clashes detected before crews even got in the field, Gilbane saw a 43% reduction in anticipated requests for information, Bredeson says. In total, the process resolved issues that could have cost the owner roughly $863,000.
With the trades fully coordinated, many subcontractors were able to prefabricate their larger and more complex assemblies off-site. As a result, the trades reduced field hours by 15%. Gilbane estimates that the entire process saved about $140,000.
“Three years ago, contractors were seen as a minor player in the BIM arena. Now we see that they are gaining some of the biggest benefits from it.”
— John Tocci, CEO
Tocci Building Corp.
Chairman, AGC BIM Forum
All combined, the team identified nearly $1.09 million in savings and rang up only $69,000 in BIM-related expenses, half of which was devoted to modeling from 2D documents.
“We have a great senior management buy-in to expand our BIM use,” Bredeson says. “When you see those kinds of results, it’s hard not to.”
Collaboration Saves Time
BIM also is changing the way various team members interact. Data sharing between different firms helps reap greater rewards with BIM, prompting expanded collaboration among team members who have traditionally preferred to hand off work.
On a 96,000-sq-ft data-center project, Gilbane Building Co. saw a nearly 1,500% return on BIM-related expenses. Clash detection resolved issues that could have cost $863,000.
On a 96,000-sq-ft data-center project, Gilbane Building Co. saw a nearly 1,500% return on BIM-related expenses. Clash detection resolved issues that could have cost $863,000.
On a 96,000-sq-ft data-center project, Gilbane Building Co. saw a nearly 1,500% return on BIM-related expenses. Clash detection resolved issues that could have cost $863,000. (Renderings Courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti.)
Atlanta’s Holder Construction, a Georgia branch AGC member, was brought in during the predesign phase as construction manager of a new two-story academic building at Savannah State University. The company worked with designer Lott+Barber, Savannah, well before the project broke ground in November 2007. Using BIM models created by the designer, Holder was able to compare three complete conceptual models and draw up cost estimates of each.
“Because we spoke their language [BIM], we could take those models immediately and extract all of the quantities without having to do any take-offs or handwork and add our full range of construction expertise to each of these three options,” says Michael Lefevre, Holder’s vice president of planning and design support services.
Although much of the design was still rough, the team was able to add details to the model to use toward accurate estimating. The process revealed that one of the designs would cost $2 million less to build than the others.
“All of this happened in about 10 days,” Lefevre adds. “Traditionally, you could expect the architect to draw for around four months, then hand it to the contractor, who estimates for six more weeks only to find out it was $2 million over budget.”
The net result for the owners was a project that came in on budget and on time, completing in December.
Getting Aboard
The roster of players involved in BIM projects continues to expand as firms seek additional ways to exchange models and realize project savings. Data exchange among contractors, engineers and fabricators has proven a significant source of time savings on projects.
At the new $1-billion Meadowlands Stadium project in East Rutherford, N.J., the building team, led by construction manager Skanska USA Building Inc., Parsippany, N.J., a member of multiple AGC chapters, has managed to cut months off the schedule.
The team’s structural engineer, New York-based Thornton Tomasetti, was able to share detailed BIM models with the steel fabricator, who could then quickly pull an advanced bill of materials from the data. Erleen Hatfield, principal at Thornton Tomasetti, estimates that the process saved nearly four weeks in the schedule.
Engineers also were able to show the structure’s most complicated connections in the model. All combined, Hatfield says the team saved at least three months in the schedule, and the project was five months ahead when steel erection was completed.
Skanska was able to finely monitor shop drawings, color-coding the model to track progress. Because so much of the structure is exposed, Skanska could use that same information to create 3D models and show the owner how the steel would look in the final product.
The project, which broke ground in 2007, is speeding toward a 2010 completion.
“On a similar stadium project we had three people in charge of steel shop drawings,” says Albert Zulps, virtual design and construction regional director at Skanska USA Building’s office in Boston. “On the Meadowlands [project], we had one person doing all of this. That is due in no small part to the fact that the model helped organize the process.”
Although integrated teams can reap significant savings on projects, contractors can find BIM success on their own as well. Dan Klancnik, VDC manager at The Walsh Group, Chicago, and a BIM Forum member, says contractors who are new to virtual design and construction can quickly see payback even if no one else is using BIM on a project.
“A lot of small and medium firms roll in and see a BIM requirement, and they get scared off,” he says. “Although you do see more benefits by being more integrated, a lot of these companies can try it on their own at first and still see a return.”
Although Walsh prefers integrated teams, it uses BIM on projects even if the designers aren’t employing the technology, Klancnik says.
Using integrated delivery and BIM, Holder Construction was able to identify a $2-million price difference among design proposals for a new building at Savannah State University.
Using integrated delivery and BIM, Holder Construction was able to identify a $2-million price difference among design proposals for a new building at Savannah State University. (Renderings Courtesy of Thornton Tomasetti.)
On the $76-million Central Arizona Project water treatment plant expansion that was completed last year by its subsidiary Archer Western, Atlanta, and a member of multiple AGC chapters, the company took 2D drawings from the engineer and built its own BIM models. Nearly 80% of the work was self-performed by Archer Western.
Although the company spent $40,000 extra on creating the models, it identified more than $150,000 in system interferences during the coordination process. Klancnik estimates that requests for information were reduced by 75% on the project with zero change orders. The 28-month construction schedule was reduced by five weeks.
“Twelve people working upfront in precon saved the time of at least 100 people in the field,” he adds. “We see BIM as a negative cost—you pay upfront but save on the back end. It’s even better when it’s integrated, but if you need to go it alone, it’s still worth it.”
AGC develops new schema to help construction programs communicate
By Jennifer Seward
In an effort to help address the interoperability issues inherent in the use of various construction software applications, AGC in March released new standards that will enable sharing of data and key information among different programs.
This new tool, known as agcXML, is expected to save construction companies time and money. According to AGC CFO Monique Valentine, $15.8 billion a year is currently spent in lost productivity as a result of compatibility issues among different programs and the time it takes people to re-enter information into those programs.
The XML schema will work with any project management application, accounting system or BIM software that has adopted the agcXML schema, Valentine says. Best of all, it is available at no cost to support the exchange of construction data.
Initiated and funded by AGC, the XML schema is available for transactional data commonly exchanged in paper documents such as owner/contractor agreements, schedules of values, requests for information, requests for proposals, architect/engineer supplemental instructions, change orders, change directives, submittals, applications for payment and addenda, to name a few.
The agcXML tool is the latest in a series of innovative products the association is making available to support the nation’s construction industry. Later this year, AGC will begin offering the first-ever curriculum for construction professionals to learn the advantages of building information modeling technology.


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