Whitepaper: 02.02.2013

Talking Technology

Talking Tech and Construction Advancement
McCarthy is Leading the Way in Construction Technology

New technology tools and processes, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), are routinely used to increase collaboration, improve decision-making, reduce rework and enhance overall construction project quality. The BIM process is shaped by many different standards, platforms and processes. A few of the emerging tools discussed below, including robotic laser scanning, model based estimating and integrated management systems such as Autodesk BIM 360 Field, are changing the construction industry. McCarthy’s BIM team is leading the way to help owners take advantage of the opportunities these new technologies are offering.

National BIM Standards
With BIM being widely adopted, McCarthy is at the forefront of developing best practices and standards for BIM. Texas BIM Manager Connor Christian currently serves as member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) BIM Advisory Panel. In September 2012, this panel released updated BIM requirements for USACE MILCON projects revising contract language based on industry developments and lessons learned from previous projects and providing a standard for the minimum modeling requirement to be performed on any USACE MILCON project. These new standards are being considered by several government agencies as the BIM standard and have the potential to help other entities reduce errors that have occurred on past projects from being repeated in the future.

Tools & Processes Providing Owner Value
With the move to more consistent BIM standards, owners will now be able to see the value of proven new BIM technologies on their projects. These include:

  • Model based estimating (MBE) is a method of using a BIM to easily and efficiently identify project costs in the early design stages. MBE in conjunction with quantity takeoff derived from the model provides for the ability to create highly accurate and rapid estimates. These quantities can then be linked to cost data, which results in real-time cost estimating of early design documents. With MBE, a change in design can quickly be recalculated, which in turn can update the cost estimates. The key to success with using MBE is being able to trust the content of the model. This is achieved by using tools such as a specifically crafted BIM Execution Plan (BEP) which addresses MBE as a BIM use.
  • Another exciting tool being used in construction is robotic total stations (RTS), which assist in the automation of layout and quality control in the field. McCarthy uses the “Get the Point” (GTP) software that integrates with Autodesk products to create model-based survey points for a project. These can then be physically brought out of the trailer and on to the site, allowing for easier creation and manipulation analysis of the survey data. GTP is helping projects complete on time, under budget and with increased accuracy.In Joplin, Mo., McCarthy used GTP to assist in layout and Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) of the cast-in-place concrete work for the Mercy Joplin Regional Medical Center project.
  • McCarthy has also been using laser scanning in conjunction with RTS at the Kaiser Permanente Replacement Hospital in Oakland, Calif. McCarthy has been capturing the in-wall and pre-pour conditions on-site with laser scanners to provide the owner with point clouds that can be utilized in future planning and renovations. These scans are like a 3D picture that can be used in programs such as Navisworks to assist in coordination. One of the most significant benefits is that this saves owners from having to perform costly x-rays and destructive exploratory work used in future renovation planning.
  • Project Validation and Verification is an important component of any project’s BIM implementation plan today. A tool McCarthy recently implemented on projects is AutoDesk BIM 360 Field, formerly known as Vela Systems. 360 Field is construction management software that is changing the user experience in the execution and management of work on a project site. The software suite includes programs for managing and tracking quality, safety and commissioning in the field. Integrating distinct construction processes through a shared on-line system is automating various reporting functions and streamlining communication processes.

For example, Vela Mobile allows workers to view BIMs and compare them to the work in progress. With an iPad or tablet in hand, a superintendent can take pictures of an issue in the field requiring attention. In real time the picture is sent to Vela Web to an issue tracker. Project issues and observations immediately can be added to a master list of operations activities on Vela Web and task progress can be tracked from start to finish. It is an important organization tool that speeds up issue management and gives the owner a complete report of the resolution that was incorporated into their project.

Practical Owner BIM Tools
McCarthy is leading the way in construction technology by implementing these tools on construction projects across the country. As an owner it is important to know the benefits of construction technology and how it can positively affect your building project. In addition to the benefits described above; these tools allow McCarthy to consolidate project data in a format the can be easily transferred to the owner for use in the building’s lifecycle. At the end of the project, McCarthy can provide the owner with an iPad or tablet housing as-built drawings with embedded links to specifications, O&M manuals, submittals, warranty data, training videos, etc. Consolidating and linking this data provides building managers and maintenance staff a mobile source supporting routine building maintenance, optimizing building performance, and training maintenance staff.  For example, it is now possible for a building maintenance person, with tablet in hand, to click on a drawing of the mechanical room and access a training video on how to replace an air filter.

Conclusion
With technology changing the construction industry’s methodology and tools used to execute a project, it is important to understand BIM uses and the benefits they afford your project. McCarthy is leading the way by using the technology available to an owner’s advantage, while still keeping an eye on what’s on the technology horizon. In the end, some of the low hanging BIM “fruits” can offer a better ROI than some of the emerging technologies, which aren’t quite ready to be implemented yet. It is important for your builder to be able to take advantage of the best technology options for your project. BIM is more than just pretty pictures on a computer screen. In their own, those pictures ultimately have little to do with the safe, high quality and efficient outcomes BIM is instrumental in providing if performed by a true builder.

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