PohlCon GmbH

BIM facilitates the manufacture of customized building products

Digital development and innovation

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© Jordahl Benelux B.V.

Summary in a nutshell

Standard products are in increasingly low demand, because more and more customers want customized products. This applies not only to the consumer goods market, where thanks to the Internet virtually everyone has access to products from all over the world around the clock, but also to the architecture and construction industry. Building product manufacturers have to face this challenge, in addition to the already known ones - such as the shortage of skilled workers or the increasingly complicated supply chains.

Three strong brands under one roof: PUK, JORDAHL and H-BAU Technik.

Three brands for all needs

To meet these changing demands, manufacturers of building products need intelligent processes - from the initial consultation to delivery and installation. One example of a company that is successfully exploiting the change for itself is PohlCon GmbH. The company advises its customers in highly individualized building projects as a full-service partner from planning to use, from apartment buildings to office complexes to industrial plants. PohlCon offers products of the three brands PUK, JORDAHL, and H-BAU Technik, each with its own special field and altogether with more than 200 years of experience in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. The company has its headquarters in Berlin and is also active in other countries. Dennis Neumann-Börtz is a BIM Engineer at PohlCon: "We are known for making very elaborate and more complicated projects possible." It is precisely these projects that require a high level of individual planning and are quite consulting-intensive. PohlCon offers solutions that do not yet exist on the market in this way. Customers can see in advance what the product range may look like in PohlCon's 3D showroom. In the digital building, the products and solutions can be experienced in installation situations - via link, and downloading BIM data is just a click away.

The I in BIM stands for Information

Such solutions are possible thanks to Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is a digital process that optimizes the life cycle of a construction project from initial design through construction to the operation and maintenance phase. All information relevant to planning is bundled; construction thus becomes more efficient and cost-effective. Before embarking on the digital transformation, PohlCon reviewed the current state of its three brands and gradually introduced an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system at an early stage - at that time, the three brands under PohlCon were still independent companies. Since then, the ERP system has been at the heart of the new way of working.

The Autodesk Collections for architecture and for manufacturing can thus be seamlessly connected and enable a tight collaboration on an individually customized interface. Data silos are a thing of the past, because consistent data are used for all planning. Dennis Neumann-Börtz: "In the past, we used to exchange information by fax and e-mail. Today, we use BIMplatforms: All information can be accessed at any time and can be used easily by all project participants." Not only has the type of data exchange changed since then, but the communication channels are new as well.

"BIM is the revolution in the construction industry."

Dennis Neumann-Börtz, BIM Engineer, PohlCon GmbH

The facade of the Leidsche Rijn Centrum was designed entirely with BIM by JORDAHL Benelux B.V.

Sophisticated facade planning with BIM

An example of the successful application of BIM: JORDAHL Benelux has completely mapped the facade design of the the Leidsche Rijn Centrum in Utrecht with BIM - from planning to construction. The shopping mall offers space for 130 stores and 762 apartments. JORDAHL Benelux installed more than 4,800 meters of masonry facade with over 6,000 anchor points for the elaborate and diverse facade - correspondingly, the coordination effort was high. However, working on a common data model made the coordination much easier to manage.

Parameterization simplifies the exchange of information, and visualization facilitates understanding the construction project for all parties involved. Thanks to the strong object orientation, communication was more transparent from initial planning to final installation, even across disciplines. This led to greater trust on the customer side. In the BeNeLux countries, JORDAHL has been working with Revit since 2011 and has since been able to leverage its experience for the German market as well. Today, the specialist for creative and reliable facade anchors runs its processes completely via the ERP systemsystem; manual interfaces are a thing of the past. Word has spread in the industry, Neumann-Börtz describes: "JORDAHL has gained a strong image through its good work. If 3D is to be planned, then with JORDAHL BeNeLux."

A reliable component list at the click of a button

The employees of MEP specialist PUK also benefit from the new digital way of working. Where previously time-consuming manual research was required, components now can simply be filtered in just a few steps. Although the planners need to invest more effort at the beginning to set up the models correctly, all disciplines benefit from this in the entire further course. Cable support systems or underfloor systems are parameterized, product families can be called up and visualized individually, even in different colors if desired. Neumann-Börtz: "I can filter by lengths and types and perform clash detection in a short time." The result is reliable component lists, the project runs faster and with fewer errors, and the projects become more profitable for the customer.

Parameterization has another advantage for masonry planning: PohlCon offers 14 product types via JORDAHL, which result in over 20,000 different product variant designs. In Revit, these variants can be represented in five clear product families from which planners can choose very easily.

"The data from the designers is the most important source. With BIM, this data is available around the clock."

Dennis Neumann-Börtz, BIM Engineer, PohlCon GmbH

PohlCon GmbH. View into an elevator shaft in the digital PohlCon building with over 50 products in their installation situations.

Open interfaces in Revit

Revit has an open API interface that allows the software to be highly customized. Dennis Neumann-Börtz and his team have been working on a plugin that saves employees and customers a tedious work step: Until now, digitally planned anchor channels had to be transferred manually to an important software which is determining the final dimensions for all products. This transfer now happens almost automatically.

For Neumann-Börtz, BIM offers many new tools and processes. He describes the new way of working: "In the past, we first collected all the information and plans around us, and only then we started to draw our plans. Today it's the other way around: we get all the info on the model, then we draw an anchor channel, for example, and then we get all the properties via the interface with the dimensioning software. That saves a lot of time and effort." The work is more efficient, more accurate - and the consistency between structural analysis and execution planning is better because data can be transferred in both directions.

Two Autodesk Collections with appropriate tools help PohlCon in its projects.

A solution from one single vendor

In order to meet the growing market need for customized building products, it helps to use one common platform. PohlCon has chosen two Autodesk Collections: the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection (PDMC) and the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Collection . Revit and Inventor Professional, both industry standards, are part of the two collections. Neumann-Börtz chose Autodesk for its strong position in the international market as well as for the level of detail of the project data generated, suitable for all disciplines. Many employees are already familiar with the software from their university education, so they work in a familiar environment. Thanks to the large user community, it is easy to get answers to questions quickly during the daily work - also thanks to the numerous YouTube explanatory videos.

On the Autodesk side, a contact person provides support with a short response time, and customer success stories also help to find solutions quickly - also individual solutions like the one PohlCon is using.

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