Brad Mohler, Virtual Construction Manager, ColonialWebb
In our current age of commercial construction, I can think of no single technological application that rivals Building Information Modeling (BIM) when it comes to meeting the demands of pre- construction planning and execution. BIM provides us the ability to visualize and see our work in the virtual environment, long before the first physical material is procured in the real world. Providing a scalable platform to solve our most complex problems of spatial constraints and system performance, we can utilize geometry and metadata to drive project decision making. At ColonialWebb, we couple this pre-planning ability with leveraging model data to generate material orders, and track our fabrication and installation progress. We use the model as an asset and an information pipeline to communicate to our teams how our build stacks up against our estimates and planning goals. These capabilities of the BIM model help to minimize the risk we expose ourselves to in the volatile industry of mechanical contracting.
Spatial Coordination and System Performance
One of the first ways our company began to see the benefits of BIM was in the practice of spatial coordination. We model all of our projects to 3D Level 400, enabling us to evaluate how our systems will fit within the design structure. All of our sheet metal, piping, and plumbing systems geometrically match exactly what we will build and install, including the hangers and stands needed to support our systems. Inserting our model and comparing our scope of work with other trade contractors provides us with the ability to identify heavily congested areas where our work may conflict with other trades.
This eliminates a large amount of re-work in our field operations because we are able to troubleshoot these areas and come up with solutions as a team that serves the customer with a well thought out product in their building.
Planning and Scheduling
Once the model has reached a level of substantial coordination, where everything is in 3D and“fits” as it will be built, we take the next step to pre-construction by modularizing out what will be pre-fabricated on the project. We use the
BIM model to break down fabrication assemblies and schedule them for our manufacturing division. All of our “assemblies” are bulked together across all our projects and tagged with datafields inside the BIM models, so our team can schedule all the pre-fabrication across our company on one common platform. This ability to be transparent enables us to flatten our labor curve and minimize the amount of overtime hours and fatigue to our employees. I am pretty confident in saying that this would be a time consuming and a difficult task to accomplish without the BIM metadata helping us understand metrics like: Pounds of sheetmetal, Quantities of welded pipe,Linear footage and Diameter Inches of planned pre-fabrication, and other such volumetric information that is critical to keep our manufacturing team on time and successful.
At ColonialWebb, our goal is to model as we install. Another advantage of taking our BIM efforts to the next level is that we are able to link data dashboards directly to our model to generate material lists for quoting and purchasing materials on our projects
At ColonialWebb, our goal is to model as we install. Another advantage of taking our BIM efforts to the next level is that we are able to link data dashboards directly to our model to generate material lists for quoting and purchasing materials on our projects.
We are easily able to filter down material lists by categories such as Floor/Trade/Materials our purchasing agents can release these orders to our shop and field teams in a manner that coincides with performing their installs.
Having the BIM model coordinated helps our company minimize the amount of material overage and directly leads to savings both by buying exactly what we need to build the system, as well as optimizing our systems during the initial stages of modeling. We can cut our material cost down, which translates to labor savings and a more efficient project for the customer.
Fabrication and Installation Tracking
The latest generation of Building Information Modeling technology, we are incorporating at ColonialWebb are cloud based model tools to help our project teams track the progress of jobs by communicating through a data driven cloud based selection interface. This tool was developed by our corporate owners, and allows our teams to select model elements
and tag them with data fields once the work is complete for the referenced elements. The interface can be accessed by teammates even without CAD software, and brings us closer to a new dawn of project tracking. We track the reported model information closer to real time, which allows us to provide and verify forecasts of project completion in a digital manner.
The construction technology sector is an extremely exciting space to be in at ColonialWebb. We are envisioning and creating applications for our business through the BIM model at warp speed. Our ColonialWebb leaders provide our family with the freedom and innovative environment to create real competitive advantages in our industry. We pride ourselves on utilizing the BIM model as a project asset for coordination, planning, purchasing, and tracking/forecasting. We are looking toward the future, while staying grounded in our present capabilities, staring through the lens of our virtual model, and aiming our sights on making the built world a better place for our communities.