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BIM helps Turner Construction break down collaboration barriers and save time

To that end, the company makes use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to create information- rich virtual models to address potential construction issues before actual construction begins, ultimately improving project outcomes. In 2011, Turner Construction Company was recognized by Building Design & Construction for having the largest volume of projects utilizing BIM tools (4.6 billion).

Turner Construction Company was tapped in early 2012 to build the new US$26 million central utility plant for the Oakland International Airport in Oakland, California. Although the shell of the 8,300-square-foot plant is relatively straightforward, the structure will house an extremely intricate network of electrical, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, all of which are critical to keeping the airport running efficiently around the clock.

The challenge

“It’s a complicated facility, with very dense mechanical and electrical scope,” says Lincoln Wood, engineer at Turner Construction Company. “Building it requires a complex coordination effort because the e orts of many subcontractors must be integrated. Much of the equipment—the electrical switchgear and mechanical equipment, including boilers, pumps, and cooling tower—is interdependent. Everyone—from the architect, contractor, and subcontractor to the owner and facility manager, must be in complete agreement— from the submittal stage all the way to delivery, installation, and operation. If something isn’t right, there’s the potential for a domino effect that compromises our entire timeline and budget. There is a lot of risk.”

The solution

To improve cross-disciplinary collaboration and decision making during the pre-construction process, Turner built a data-rich 3D model of the central utility plant using Revit Architecture and Revit Structure software and then brought it into Navisworks Manage project review software. The firm decided that BIM-based collaboration needed to continue during the construction phase in order to help keep the project on schedule. So Turner leveraged cloud-based BIM with BIM 360 Glue to give its diverse team of subcontractors access to the 3D model wherever and whenever they needed it.

Wood explains, “Autodesk BIM 360 Glue has been a very big part of the Oakland Airport project. Users are able to visualize the building and walk through all areas virtually. It helps to break down the barriers that hamper collaboration between our team and the subcontractors. Not only does it promote timesaving, there is value in the service’s ability to facilitate more accurate project documentation and record keeping. The benefits are obvious to all of us.”

Easier, more secure collaboration

Although some of the core project team members had never worked in a 3D environment before, they quickly got up to speed. “With BIM 360 Glue, it’s not just a quicker learning curve,” says Tyler Goss, regional virtual design and construction manager for Turner Construction Company. “It’s the speed of adoption. People who I never would have expected in a thousand years to be able to pick up and engage with a 3D model now love it.”

“BIM 360 Glue really clicked for people,” says Wood. “It speaks to both the foreman out in the field and the engineer in the office in a way that’s just direct. It’s clean. It’s simple.” According to Wood, part of the reason that subcontractors felt more quickly at ease collaborating in Autodesk BIM 360 Glue was because they were confident that it provided a more secure working environment. Autodesk BIM 360 Glue offers custom permissions to a user’s needs and ability, enabling appropriate access to the model, while helping to safeguard against unwanted changes. “Just a few clicks, and you are in the model, and it feels secure,” he explains. “BIM 360 Glue retains a history of each model version that can be accessed at any time. There’s a feeling that the information is safe and always accessible without any tampering ability.”

Accelerated workflow, improved decision making

By incorporating BIM 360 Glue into its pull planning sessions, the project team was able to better streamline its workflow while promoting more informed and accurate decision making. With support from an intelligent 3D model, subcontractors are better able to quickly discover any major problems, collaborate on solutions, and keep the project moving forward.

“All of the subcontractors come together at critical path junctures during construction to re-evaluate and confirm the schedule for the next phase of work,” says Wood. “We start by determining the end goal for the phase and work backwards, getting everyone in the room in agreement. Using Autodesk BIM 360 Glue, I’m working with a live model. As decisions are made, everyone can see what’s happening.”

In Wood’s view, having a more accurate model available helps the team avoid any confusion or guesswork. “By consolidating all of the information in one model,” he says, “no one is guessing which version is the most current. To me, that makes Autodesk BIM 360 Glue a powerful coordination engine that helps us minimize any rework. The software helps keep everyone on the same page.”

“The mobile app is the next horizon of coordination and communication with the field. As a contractor, I think the field is in a position to really leverage this technology in exciting ways.”
                                                    — Lincoln Wood, Engineer, Turner Construction Company

Bringing 3D visualization to the field

To further enhance cross-team coordination, Turner made BIM 360 Glue available to subcontractors on the job site, through an app available on Apple iPad mobile devices. “The mobile app is a lot more dynamic than software that can’t leave the office, because it ties everyone together at the point of delivery,” says Wood. “There’s the foreman in the field, looking at the iPad during a scheduling pull planning session. So is the project manager who is the primary decision maker regarding money, timing, and commitments, along with the detailer, who could potentially be back in the home office, editing shop drawings and submittals, or even adding comments—all of these people are actively participating in the same meeting.”

“Having Autodesk BIM 360 Glue on the iPad helps bring BIM visualization to the people who are actually building the building—they have great ideas, but have traditionally lacked a way to share them efficiently,” says Wood. “The mobile app is the next horizon of coordination and communication with the field. As a contractor, I think the field is in a position to really leverage this technology in exciting ways.”

The result

Currently, the Oakland airport utility plant project is almost halfway through completion and progressing on schedule and on budget, thanks, in part, to the accelerated workflow and informed decision making supported by BIM 360 Glue. Turner Construction Company is also planning to use BIM 360 Glue for the next phase of the Oakland airport construction project, a retrofit of Terminal 1, which will also involve complicated logistical components, including coordinating with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” says Wood. “The scope of work is much bigger and there’s going to be a lot of coordination. Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is not just visualization. It supports information collaboration and has improved our efficiency.”

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Visualization helps Turner Construction with Oakland Airport Project

Using BIM helped Turner Construction become more efficient with stunning 3D visualizations and improved collaboration among team members.

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