How Saint-Gobain Increases Efficiency With Lean Practices

By Akio
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McGraw Hill Construction, the Lean Construction Institute, and Dassault Systèmes teamed up to produce an in-depth report on Lean Construction.

Below is an excerpt from that report on how digital configuration multi-product assemblies are increasing industry efficiency at Saint-Gobain.

Construction site

Increasing Industry Efficiency With Digital Configuration Multi-Product Assemblies

Since 1988, building product manufacturers in the European Union have been working to comply with the “Construction Products Directive” (CPD), a piece of landmark legislation that “aims to ensure the free movement of all construction products by introducing a common technical language” to describe and define product characteristics.

Those could include mechanical strength, fire resistance, heat retention, or any of a wide range of other properties critical to a product’s installed performance.


Saint-Gobain is a building product manufacturer headquartered in France with a global presence in over 55 countries. They manufacture a broad range of products, including insulation, gypsum, exterior products, pipe and industrial mortars, as well as a number of prefabricated assemblies involving multiple products.

According to Laurent Ortas, head of new construction technologies, and Francois Pincemin, head of constructive solutions and prefabrication, the company has long been committed to supporting the CPD and is now leveraging that platform to support their leadership role in the emerging trend of highly efficient model-based design, fabrication and construction.

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The Voice of Experience: SHoP Architects and SHoP Construction

By Akio
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Architecture is a highly collaborative business

Keeping numerous stakeholders – owners, architects, engineers, general contractors, utilities, permitting agencies, fabricators, suppliers and subcontractors – on the same page is a daunting task.

With so many players, the industry’s traditional, tried-and-true method for communication has been to develop dense and detailed drawing packages, which are then rolled into tubes and delivered by courier or overnight mail. As soon as drawings are received changes occur, requiring the revision, production and delivery of an entirely new set.

Botswana Innovation Hub

Today, with international projects and teams spread across the globe, such as they are for the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, the importance of having an efficient and effective system for project communication is greater than ever.

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Gambling On 3D Coordination: Hardstone Construction Bets Big, Wins Big

By Akio
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Pat Henderson, President, Hardstone Construction

Pat Henderson, the outspoken president of Hardstone Construction, defied industry tradition to apply 3D techniques pioneered in discrete manufacturing to the challenges of a commercial project.

In the process, he proved that cost overruns are not a necessary evil of construction … and that some risks are well worth taking.

Before he founded Hardstone Construction, a Las Vegas-based general contracting firm, Pat Henderson led $3 billion in projects at two of the largest US-based construction companies.

Despite 30 years of experience, however, certain aspects of the industry still puzzle him. For example, why does the industry accept 20% cost overruns as a normal part of doing business?

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Why does the industry accept 20%
cost overruns as a normal part of doing business?”

And why do construction companies resist the 3D design technologies proven in countless other industries – technologies that could eliminate the overruns?

Getting answers to those questions is important to Henderson because he wants to leave his employees and his daughter, whom he is grooming to take over the company, a stronger, more profitable, and less frustrating industry than the one he has known.

“I am convinced 3D has the power to eliminate the problems that abound in the construction industry,” the forthright Henderson said. “I believe it will reduce waste in construction by upwards of 10%. When you consider the trillions of dollars spent on construction in the U.S. alone, that is a very significant savings.”


Henderson’s chance to test his theories finally arrived when Hardstone Construction was named general contractor for the multi-phased Tivoli Village mixed-use project in Las Vegas.

With 2 million square feet of retail, office and parking space, the risks of delays and cost overruns were enormous – especially after the lead architects, structural engineer and mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) engineer abandoned the project.

The owner subsequently asked Hardstone Construction to pick up their duties, in addition to the company’s original construction coordination assignment.

On the Tivoli Village project in Las Vegas, Hardstone managed in-house coordination of all trades and brought the $300 million project in on time with zero dollars in contractor or subcontractor claims.

clicktotweetClick to tweet: “Hardstone delivered a $300 million
project on time with zero contractor/subcontractor claims”

The daunting challenge was also an opportunity.

If Hardstone Construction could use the same advanced 3D technology that has transformed the discrete manufacturing industries to salvage the Tivoli Village project, Henderson knew he could prove his point beyond a doubt.


Henderson believed that creating a highly accurate 3D model of a virtual Tivoli Village would allow his team to recognize and eliminate risks with low-cost bits and bytes rather than high-cost physical materials. By improving coordination, Henderson also bet that 3D modeling would make the workplace smarter, safer and more efficient by enabling all stakeholders to collaborate more effectively.

By the time the first phase of Tivoli Village opened in 2011, Henderson had his proof.

Hardstone managed in-house coordination of all trades and brought the $300 million project in on time with zero dollars in contractor or subcontractor claims. Henderson estimates savings totaled between $500,000 and $1 million in potential framing cost overruns alone, and between $2 million and $3 million overall.


Hardstone Construction Tivoli Village project

Because construction industry experience with the advanced 3D application he chose is limited, Henderson relied on a diverse trio of 3D modeling experts on the Tivoli Village project:

  • Patrick L’Heureux, an expert in aerospace technical construction who previously worked for Pratt & Whitney;
  • Nicolas Cantin, a mechanical engineer who previously worked for Bombardier; and
  • Becher Neme, an architect and urban designer who previously worked for renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Working as senior project members with a small support staff, the three-man team modeled the entire architectural envelope, structure, and MEP systems in-house.

The team also produced highly coordinated shop drawings for the construction teams directly from the linked 3D models.


One key advantage on the project was that repetitive 3D geometry did not need to be modeled manually.

Instead, variations on individual components were generated by entering parameters – drawn from spreadsheets and design tables supplied by the architect – into basic component templates.

“It was a truly unique advantage,” Cantin said. “These tasks would have been time-consuming and subject to high risk of human error if they were modeled manually. In fact, without the automation process, most builders would not model them in the first place, which could lead to mistakes, rework and cost overruns.”

Neme estimates that repeated iterations between initial design and final shop drawing production allowed Hardstone to optimize the MEP routing to reduce materials by 30%. “That is good for the budget, but also for the environment,” Neme said. “Because we order everything to fit based on the model, there is no waste.”

On a framing budget of $5 million, change orders might easily add 20% or more – an additional $1 million. At Tivoli Village, the cost for change orders was zero. “We were obsessed with finding ways to apply manufacturing processes to construction,” Cantin said.


Because construction workers on the Tivoli project could see the models in 3D, they easily understood exactly how different systems came together, the order in which they needed to be installed, and the importance of doing their work in ways that left room for the next trade’s installations.

“There was practically no time wasted on resolving conflicts between different trades on-site during construction,” L’Heureux said. “We simply didn’t have conflicts.”

With Phase 1 of the $300 million project complete, Henderson is so convinced that the application has the potential to transform the construction industry that he has arranged for his daughter to learn the program.

“She is going to be in this business long after I am,” Henderson said. “I want her to have the best solutions at her fingertips. I am convinced it should be the future of this industry.”

Pat Henderson, quote

By Greg Rice. This article originally appeared in COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine.

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