From Two Months to Two Weeks: Saint Gobain’s Efficiency Gains with Autodesk's BIM Collaborate

how specialty contractors build better relationships with general contractors

For over 300 years Saint Gobain has focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of materials and solutions that have a positive impact on the world around us. The global organisation is aiming to improve wellbeing, quality of life and performance, while caring for the planet. As a complete solutions provider, they deliver end-to-end products for the building of residential, industrial and commercial spaces. Operating in over ten countries across the world, their Gypsum team provides plaster and plasterboard solutions to 135 sites.

Remote collaboration leading to a lack of standardisation 

The team at Saint Gobain are made up of multiple project collaborators who are based in countries and geographies across the globe. John Lucian, Process Development Manager, is responsible for designing processes and manages a team of engineers in a variety of locations across the world. His team’s responsibilities involve designing plants from scratch and working with external companies particularly on civil construction works. 

John reflects: “Many of our project partners work for different organisations so issues with standard ways of working began to appear on our various projects when it came to standardised ways of working.”

With multiple project stakeholders working on different disciplines, ensuring all parties are using the same tools and software became problematic. This means that teams often end up working in siloed ways leading to problems when collaboration needs to take place. 

“Our main issue in the design process came when we had to integrate our designs, which were developed in different tools,” says John. “For the team, transferring large files between various organisations was not only time consuming but also carried a level of risk.” 

Wojciech Gorgol, Saint Gobain’s Drawing Office Manager, outlines the impact this has when it comes to clash detection activities ahead of preparing for on-site activity; “Converting information from different file formats and aligning it so that everything is in the right position became a timely and lengthy process for us.” These complex processes meant that soon clash detections were completed in a manual way, relying on visual identifiers and were mainly completed over video calls and emails as opposed to in-person which added another layer of complexity. 

For Saint Gobain, working in this way soon led to delays on projects as not all clashes were identified. Additionally, project teams often relied on specialist people to integrate files or conduct clash detection and their availability was not always guaranteed. Effective collaboration soon became insufficient, so Saint Gobain approached the Autodesk Construction Cloud team to explore solutions which would address their challenges and support BIM delivery

Improving transparency and creating time savings 

Vladimir Milenkovic, Lead Process Engineer, and a member of John Lucian’s team, tested Autodesk BIM Collaborate on the production of a new plaster board factory in Spain. The new buildings were being built on to pre-existing structures which meant the project was at a critical point. The design models needed to correlate, and equipment interfaces needed to be seen. 

Using Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM Collaborate, the team implemented one central space for clash detection, issues management and project communication. “Using BIM Collaborate, we’ve been able to improve collaboration two-fold,” says Vladimir. “We can talk about a model in real-time and see what has been changed for better versioning control."

Previously, we’d be required to compare versions manually and there was no traceability – this has all changed now.
– Vladimir Milenkovic, Lead Process Engineer, Saint Gobain

For Wojciech, the time savings created by working in a new way has made the clash detection process more straight-forward. Wojciech says: “This used to be a 2–3-week process involving the importing and converting of a Revit model – which had to be completed by a specialist, then 2-3 days to get everyone together to review the design. After this, we’d require someone to identify the issues and email them to the supplier to show to the contractor. It was complex, time consuming and open to error.” The team estimate that the process of clash detections and revisions could take anything up to two months but with Autodesk BIM Collaborate this is now shortened to two weeks. 

Applying a ‘train the trainer’ strategy with Autodesk’s Customer Success team has meant Saint Gobain can now focus on how they would best like to use the solution. They have project champions with an in-depth understanding of the technology and functionality. “The training by Autodesk’s team was really comprehensive and helped me to understand how to set up and organise our files, document control, the approval process and so on,” says Vladimir. “These sessions were recorded so a suite of training materials is available for colleagues to access as they familiarise with the new system.” 

Intuitive usage leading to better versioning control and improved quality 

User feedback shows that Autodesk BIM Collaborate isn’t difficult to use, especially when it comes to viewing models and creating issues. With a small number of advanced users responsible for model publishing, the majority of project team members will use the solution to ascertain and share project information – including external supply chain partners. For these team members, being able to access accurate project data is invaluable. “Colleagues are coming to me and asking me how to use certain functionality because they see the value in it, whereas in the past they may have tried to just avoid using certain systems,” says Vladimir. 

Looking to the future, Saint Gobain plans to expand their use of Autodesk BIM Collaborate on more projects. Success for the team will be consistently improving the quality of control and collaboration between different stakeholders. “For us, easily seeing the interferences between equipment and civil design is imperative,” says John. “Even a simple bolt on a building could clash with your equipment. With Autodesk BIM Collaborate, everything is in real-time which means quality and schedule is instantly accessible and accurate.”

Want to learn more about BIM Collaborate? Request a trial.

Regis Foriez

Customer Success Manager, EMEA, Autodesk