We’re increasingly learning about the benefits of collaboration, a common data environment (CDE), and partnering in the construction and engineering industry. It’s time for the more traditional and inefficient siloed approach to step aside.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Imagine a soccer game where the coaches, referees, and players each have conflicting goals, or where the offense was privy to information the defense couldn’t access. It seems ridiculous in this context, but this is exactly how construction projects have traditionally run.
The owner wants the project to be high quality, cost effective, and delivered within a reasonable time frame. The contractor wants to maximize profit while delivering the highest quality projects, leading to repeat business, and the designers want to create the most innovative and constructible plans.
Individual roles in a project team have silos and there are also silos by company. Many organizations are not gaining even close to the full value of the transformational innovation of 3D and 4D modeling, although it’s been around for years. So much of the value remains on the table if the models are only accessed by the modelers and/or across the design team.
Lendlease is an international property and infrastructure group based in Sydney, Australia, with core expertise in shaping cities and creating strong and connected communities.
Lendlease was one of the first companies to join the Early Adopter Program (EAP) for the building information modeling (BIM) Model Coordination capability in Oracle Aconex, an innovative organisation often at the forefront of new technology adoption.
Lendlease has implemented the solution on the Sydney Metro Martin Place integrated station development, the first large-scale project in the world to implement the new BIM model coordination solution.
The Oracle Aconex construction collaboration platform seamlessly integrated with Lendlease’s major desktop (design) applications, resulting in improved processes, efficiencies, and faster project delivery.
When the full project team doesn’t have access to the model, the organisation noted that “it breaks the project team apart"; the exact opposite of the efficiencies generated by collaborative contracting, processes, and technology. Lendlease decided to unite their project team on both the project and the model.
Thanks to model coordination, a bigger pool of stakeholders can now communicate through the model. “By integrating the Oracle Aconex platform with the key BIM design tools and platform, there has been a direct impact on the general team efficiencies,” said Eldad Asoulin, digital engineering manager, Lendlease.
For example, many project managers and principal engineers who worked primarily in 2D in the past have engaged with the models, unfolding a whole new world without the need to train anyone on a special system.
“Oracle Aconex provides a familiar and accessible interface", says Asoulin. He explains that this level of coordination means that “the whole team is on the same page in understanding what the issues are.”
In the past, issues were captured via spreadsheets and resolved though meetings and email. There was no assurance that all issues were recorded and communicated completely and accurately, or that accountable employees were notified as soon as possible.
The process is on average three days to a week faster to manage each issue, and approximately 1,000 issues have been closed over the past year. In the past, just the tracking and follow up would entail two to three emails per issue plus updating a spreadsheet.
Nothing gets lost or is left unresolved thanks to a consistent process that works. Project managers don’t need to get involved in nearly as many issues as they did in the past because they’re confident in the process. Project managers’ time is freed up to focus on proactive planning and more complex issues.
The Sydney Metro Martin Place project consists of an underground station and two towers. “MacQuarie, the tower owner, loves the BIM functionality,” says Asoulin. “The [owners] love that BIM is innovative and that they [the owners] are benefiting from improved visibility, quality, and efficiency on their project.”
As an example of the efficiency, Asoulin explains they are saving one half day per week across 20-30 people by reducing design coordination meeting time from a whole day to half a day. All parties are asked to close out issues prior to meetings so that they can focus on decision making instead of reviewing and tracking.
“All of the needed information is readily accessible in Oracle Aconex,” Asoulin says. “We have a new level of confidence. There is no concern about someone saying something has been done, if it hasn’t been done. There is complete transparency and accountability.”
Oracle Aconex model management capabilities support Lendlease’s design change protocol.
For example, Lendlease proposed a design idea that amended a bullnose, resulting in decreasing the width of a passageway by over a meter. Everyone could see the implication and pedestrian flow in the passageway by reviewing the 3D model. The team made an informed decision in short order, and with confidence, thanks to the model.
Model Coordination incorporates the clash detection output into Oracle Aconex, facilitating task management through Oracle Aconex emails and communications.
Lendlease used to have Excel registers track reports with thousands of clashes and a 3D model review application tracked these clashes. The team needed a full-time person to solely manage this effort.
That headcount of roughly $50K AUD annually can now be reallocated. Oracle Aconex collaboration enables a broader and more efficient discussion / review resulting in faster resolution. All records of discussions and documents are maintained in the collaboration platform.
Coordinating models is a time consuming manual process that requires each discipline to download separate models and to federate the models in an external 3D model review application for the purpose of coordination. What might have taken two to five hours a week has been reduced to just a couple of minutes using Oracle Aconex model coordination.
While not time-consuming, the traditional issue creation process is inherently prone to naming errors, duplication, and lack of traceability. Once they are all combined in an external 3D model review application, it is impossible to gauge who initially raised the issue.
Using the Oracle Aconex Model Coordination module, issues are automatically numbered and can be organized in sets and assigned to the correct people. There is no need to aggregate data from different sources because it’s all done in one place with the same models.
A weekly report is generated reflecting areas/elements to be coordinated and who is responsible to action the issue. This is a full-time job for one person to document, take notes in meetings for outcomes, and create a register tracking all issues with historical data.
Lendlease has gained greater transparency and accountability, as well as reduced a week's load down to four hours (coordination meetings), by using the Oracle Aconex Model Coordination module. This culminates in a savings of 36 hours per week.
Only specialists can use specialty tools, such as BIM authoring and coordination tools, causing the remaining team to be entirely dependent on others to access the information when they need it.
“We were able to bring the model coordination and communication process to the whole team using Oracle Aconex. This has saved us countless hours by speeding up the coordination process, but more importantly, Oracle Aconex has raised the overall quality and efficiency of the process," says Asoulin.
For example, the coordination on the Sydney Metro Martin Place integrated station development is reflected in the alignment between architecture and structure. The team can collaborate on the model and nothing falls through the cracks.
A collaborative and secure common data environment (CDE) is incredibly valuable because its transparency prevents misinterpretation or lost data.
Attaching emails to the issue saves time looking for related information, particularly in the weekly design coordination meetings. In addition to attaching related emails to the model to improve information access, issue raising, tracking, and close-out within Oracle Aconex cumulatively add up to slashing meeting times by one half day per week.
The project team’s improvements and feedback from the project team have helped Asoulin and his colleagues to begin documenting a financial business case for BIM Model Coordination. He expects this business case will enable teams on other Lendlease projects to review the use of the Model Coordination module on their projects with a reasonable assurance of applicability and benefit.
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