How an Industrial Mindset Helps SHoP Speed Its Design Process

By Akio
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ArchiFuture 2015 is the largest and most influential BIM strategy and technology event in Japan. John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects, delivered a keynote address on Design Delivery to the ArchiFuture conference attendees on October 23, 2015 in Tokyo. The following is a summary of his presentation:

SHoP Architects ArchiFuture2015

John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects

Since moving its design process to the 3DExperience platform, New York-based architecture firm SHoP has adopted an “industrial” attitude toward buildings. The firm uses virtual design to “fabricate” buildings, much as the aerospace industry assembles airplanes using digital models.

“In architecture every building is different, and every detail is different, but our processes are very much the same,” explains John Cerone, director of virtual design and construction with SHoP Architects.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Every building is different but our processes
are very much the same” – John Cerone @SHoPArchitects

This approach requires a new design mentality, focusing on a high level of detail and a close working relationship with fabricators very early in the design process.

Moving to a parts mentality

The most significant difference in this industrial approach is shifting to a focus on individual pieces as well as the project as a whole.

Very early on in a project, the design team works in terms of individual components and systems.

“They may not be the final systems that will be fabricated — they’re more like placeholders — but the system is setup so that when we get the accurate information we can easily swap the parts in,” Cerone explains.

A project may have hundreds of thousands of parts, but virtual tools allow the firm to structure all of that component data and access it in context of the larger system. CATIA allows the designers to easily move from a view of the entire building into separate building systems as well as the individual part.

Individual components within the larger structure

On SHoP’s largest implementation of this technology, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, SHoP learned to create templates for component types, then use CATIA language to expand those templates into distinct pieces.

As Cerone explains, “We’re beginning to think about design in terms of which parts are reusable and which parts are different.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “We’re thinking about #design in
terms of which parts are reusable, which are different”

In this case, a simple panel template containing all of the design, engineering and fabrication information was expanded into a handful of panel “families,” and then 12,000 unique panels.

Barclays Center: Installation of 12,000 unique panels

Barclays Center: Installation of 12,000 unique panels

The schedule component

With every aspect of a project living in the 3DExperience platform — not just geometry but also drawings, models, schedules and other details — something so abstract as the schedule itself can become a component that is attached to a design detail as a specific line item.

“That line item has a deliverable — the detail or a model of that detail is the deliverable and that can be attached to that schedule,” Cerone explains. “The schedule can be used in two ways: the linear time, but also as an object. The task that is associated with time is also a container for these deliverables.”

The result of this is a holistic view where time is always a factor, helping keep projects on schedule.

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Viewing the schedule as a “component” attached to a design detail can help keep projects on time

A world without drawings

Because all component information is generated in the model, SHoP prefers to communicates through fabrication plans when possible, rather than passing design drawings to fabricators.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Component info in model allows @SHoPArchitects
to communicate via fabrication plans, not drawings”

In the case of the Barclays Center, SHoP provided the panel fabricator with the machine code needed to cut each panel, as well as information on the install sequence to help plan which panels to cut and deliver first.

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Fabricators receive machine codes needed to perform the cuts of specific pieces; no drawings need be exchanged

For both fabrication and installation, Cerone notes that the laser scan becomes a critical part of the design process.

“It’s essential that we know the conditions that we’re installing to so that we can find problem areas ahead of time, before units are installed,” he says. A laser scan will reveal when conditions are out of tolerance, and ensure an accurate fit for installed components.

An evolving process

In addition, the firm has found that as new virtual processes are explored on a given project, subsequent projects move much more rapidly.

For example, as the Barclays Center neared completion, SHoP began to apply the processes it had learned on that project to a project in Kenya. Despite working with a vastly different form, using a different technique, the firm was able to reduce the design time on its new project to a couple of months.

“This leaves more time to run analysis, and to be much more specific about what we’re designing,” Cerone says.

Subsequent projects have moved from design to fabrication in a matter of weeks, while retaining a high level of complexity.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “How an Industrial Mindset Helps
@SHoPArchitects Speed Its Design Process”

Related Resource: 

Façade Design for Fabrication: an Industry Solution Experience from Dassault Systèmes


 

A “Perfect Storm” for AEC Industry Transformation

By Akio
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Click to TweetClick to Tweet: A “Perfect Storm”
for #AEC Industry Transformation

It’s no secret that the AEC industry is suffering from a surplus of waste: wasted materials, wasted time spent on rework and change orders, waste from highly fragmented processes.

However, what the industry is beginning to realize is that it’s not the first group to think, There must be a better way.

The aerospace industry is one recent example; in the 1990s, companies such as Boeing began to look at technologies and processes used in other industries to tighten their supply chain and manufacturing processes. A switch to all-digital modeling made this possible.

Also necessary was a switch in mindset. Aerospace professionals had to switch their thinking from “project” to “product,” and adopt product lifecycle management tools that would deliver increased value to the end-user.

With these 2 steps, AEC professionals can likewise optimize their processes:

Step 1. Adopting Revised Business Models

According to Hector Lorenzo Camps, founder of PHI Cubed Inc., the industry is looking for ways to improve, but to truly move forward will first have to revise its compensation and business models.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “To move forward, #AEC industry
1st must revise its comp & business models” @HectorCamps

Although design-build contracts are increasingly popular, there remains too little true partnership among all parties involved in the design, construction and operations processes.

Today’s typical contracts emphasize distinct roles for all players in order to help control liability.

“Many relationships in the industry are strained because of the adversarial nature of the industry standard contracts that pin professionals against each other to divide risk,” Camps says.

New collaborative forms of agreement—namely, Integrated Project Delivery—remain slow to take off as AEC professionals explore new liability rules and shift from a “best for me” to a “best for project” mentality.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: #AEC is shifting (slowly) from
“best for me” to “best for project” mentality.

Tied to this need to collaborate is another necessary step for AEC professionals: the need to shake their reliance on a 2D, paper-based management process.

Step 2. Adopting Tools for Better Integration

Until all industry players make the switch to 3D processes, there will be a problem with what Camps calls “two versions of the truth with documentation, one in 2D and the other in 3D.”

Many firms are working with a mix of 2D CAD and 3D BIM to accommodate all parties’ preferences.

“Contractually, firms go with the 2D documents, which often are obsolete and predate the model. Builders under pressure, wanting to build from the best available data, are asking to build from the model and produce 2D documents after,” Camps says. “The coordinated model needs to drive the dimensional and informational control of the project and the field implementation documents. The contractual language needs to reflect this.”

Camps believes owners—who ultimately stand to gain the most from collaborative projects—will drive this evolution to 3D.

“All they need to do is write into their contracts the information management strategy. As long as the roles, responsibilities and use case for information are defined, and intellectual property is dealt with, they should have no problem getting professionals to deliver digital documents,” he says.

Why Now Is The Time For Change

The good news? The AEC industry is already beginning to adopt the tools and processes that will make transformation possible.

“We have the perfect storm for real industry transformation as significant as the industrial revolution,” Camps predicts.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: .@HectorCamps predicts a “perfect storm
for #AEC transformation as significant as #IndustrialRevolution”

First, AEC professionals are beginning to borrow concepts from manufacturing. To further reduce waste and improve quality, the industry is looking to close the gap between design and fabrication. Lean construction is one such effort, as the industry attacks waste by taking lessons learned from Lean Manufacturing and Just in Time delivery models.

Second, Camps points to a number of technology solutions becoming available that may further speed improvement.

For example, the advent of cloud computing is making it easier than ever for all players to work together in a more tightly connected process.

As Camps points out, AEC companies generally have far fewer employees than manufacturing industries, making it potentially more difficult to invest in an expensive data management system. Cloud computing can allow even small firms to participate in building lifecycle management without having to invest in prohibitively expensive data management systems.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Cloud computing allows small firms to
participate in #BLM without investing in expensive systems

By putting data on the cloud, it’s also typically easier for various parties to share data and resources related to a project.

“This ad hoc approach to PLM makes it very easy for the AEC industry to adopt the benefits of integration and collaboration without all the forward structuring that would happen if they had to form a unique corporation in order to integrate their processes,” Camps says.

In addition, the Internet of Things is making it easier to move digital models from the drawing table to the field, giving contractors and designers rapid insight into potential problems. And Camps even points to rapid manufacturing, such as 3D printing, as a potentially promising technology for optimization, as these tools could someday make it possible to produce one off building components while maintaining the economies of scale of standard offsite production facilities.

Beyond technology, however, today’s growing engagement from public owners looking to spend more wisely is invigorating further innovation in connectedness.

The most carefully watched case in point is the UK’s Level 2 BIM requirement for federal buildings, set to become effective in 2016.

“It’s expected that by 2019, BIM Level 3 will be required. Level 3 in essence is ‘full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository,’” Camps says.

He adds, “By that definition, they just described the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.”

Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

Spotlight on PHI Cubed: Guiding the AEC Industry Toward Greater Levels of Integration

Spotlight on MEMKO: Pushing Collaboration Across the Project Life Cycle to Revolutionize Design and Construction

Spotlight on Impararia: Reducing the Gap Between Aerospace Optimization and AEC Inefficiency

Spotlight on Lionel Lambourn of Syntegrate: Looking Beyond BIM to Improve Construction Efficiencies

By Akio
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Admiralty Station, Hong Kong

Lionel Lambourn, director of Syntegrate, first gained familiarity with the possibilities afforded by BIM during his studies at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, before putting those possibilities to use at Gehry Technologies. During his tenure there, he helped set up the company’s Middle Eastern branches, using BIM tools in real-world applications.

Lionel L. Lambourn, Director, Syntegrate

Lionel L. Lambourn, Director, Syntegrate

It was that firsthand exposure to the ways that technology can boost efficiency in the construction process that led Lambourn to launch Syntegrate. The consultancy’s name was coined to describe the company’s focus on “synthesizing disciplines and integrating technologies.”

Why integrated technologies? As Lambourn quite simply explains, construction is a highly integrated discipline. It requires the work and knowledge of multiple disciplines to create something so complicated as a building, but it’s often at the intersection of trades where problems arise.

Today’s advanced software technology can easily be leveraged to ease the coordination required among building professionals and smooth the transitions of trades and materials.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “#Construction requires multiple disciplines;
problems arise at intersection of trades”

“In this day and age I see integration of technology as the best way to address some of the accepted, in-built assortments of waste and inefficiency in the construction industry,” Lambourn says. “Our mission at Syntegrate is to leverage technology to realize our built environment more appropriately, more efficiently and more sustainably.”

An Environment of Waste

Waste and inefficiency, Lambourn says, are the single biggest challenges faced today by the architecture, engineering and construction industry.

“I believe waste and inefficiency overwhelm all the other issues and encapsulate all the challenges that we face in the industry,” he says. He offers an example to put this into perspective:

“By some reports, worldwide construction and buildings consume 40 percent of the world’s energy. However, we can conservatively estimate from available data that 20 percent of construction ends up as waste. To make these numbers more tangible, let’s put these numbers in the context of national GDP—worldwide construction is comparable to the size of China’s economy and each year the entire output of Spain is wasted.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: 20% of #construction ends up as waste.
How can we do better?

Lambourn sees much of this waste and inefficiency could be solved by better coordination among contractors — a collaboration that could be easily facilitated by the integration of technology such as BIM.

A Tool for Coordination and Visualization

download

Admiralty Station, Hong Kong

Lambourn offers as a case in point Syntegrate’s work on the Admiralty Station, part of the South Island Line (East) Project, which will become the first four line interchange in Hong Kong.

The ongoing underground excavation and building work, which poses its own inherent risks, is being undertaken adjacent to the existing Island Line and Tsuen Wan Line, and the busy existing Admiralty Station – all within a densely populated area with many other underground structures in close proximity.

MTR Corporation, the owner of the project, recognizes the return on investment that they stand to gain from the comprehensive implementation of BIM on their many Projects, from construction through to operation.

The general contractor on the integrated Admiralty Station—a joint venture of Kier, Laing O’Rourke and Kaden (KLKJV)—were early adopters of BIM technology and are certainly at the forefront of the global construction industry in the implementation of BIM on their projects.

For Admiralty, the joint venture has chosen Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform as their BIM platform. Syntegrate works closely with the joint venture to refine its construction sequencing, from the coordination of excavation to concrete pours to formwork erection. By carefully scheduling each step, the general contractor has been able to execute each phase of this highly complex project with minimal rework, which in turn reduces schedule delays.

Moreover, the solution provides the joint venture with a visualization of the complicated underpinning work required to support the existing rail lines and platforms which remain in operation throughout construction.

Repeated simulations of the onsite work helps the construction team to effectively “practice” and perfect its planning, Lambourn says, so that when workers move onsite they are able to perform their work correctly the first time. This allows the joint venture to realize a dramatic reduction in waste of time and materials.

rebar.junction

Admiralty Station Rebar Junction

Broadening Technology Solutions

As projects become more complex, Lambourn believes that the use of BIM technology is a strong first step toward improving the collaboration of architecture, engineering and construction professionals. And he sees many opportunities to bring other technologies to bear, especially given the pace at which new technological advancements are happening.

“These days, we need to broaden our focus of technology to consider technologies such as 3D laser scanning, 3D printing, and even the use of drone technology to improve the way that a building is delivered,” Lambourn adds.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “We need to broaden our focus of
#technology for #AEC”

On the Admiralty contract, KLKJV utilizes 3D laser scanning extensively to capture the as-built conditions of the tunneling works at a level of precision that was not available several years ago and that is unachievable by orthodox survey methods.

“When the laser scan is introduced into the BIM platform, we can determine, exactly, how much over-break (excess excavation) has occurred and where any areas of under-break (insufficient excavation) exist. By repeated laser scanning as they proceed, the joint venture can optimize their works so that they achieve just the right amount of over-break with no areas of under-break, ensuring the highest levels of construction quality.”

Using integrated technology is but one solution to what Lambourn sees as a two-pronged approach to solving construction inefficiency.

Realistically, Lambourn says, “We would be naïve to think that the industry alone could tackle such a large problem of waste and inefficiency. Something like that has to come not only from the industry but also from a governmental level.”

Lambourn suggests that governments may need to step in to reward the reduction of waste and efficiency, ensuring this becomes a market factor that the industry must build into the way it does business.

Case in point: Lambourn notes that the industry still relies heavily on the delivery of 2D, paper drawings for contractual permissions.

“A building could be done completely paperless and much more efficiently through a 3D environment. However, governments need to come to the table and recognize that, and change the way that the legislation around the procurement of buildings is formulated so that there is not a real and contractual reliance on paper drawings.”

That doesn’t mean that architecture, engineering and construction practitioners should sit back and wait for governments to do something, however.

By becoming involved with organizations promoting and standardizing the use of BIM, the industry can help determine future technology requirements. Lambourn expects governments initiatives will spread more widely.

For example, the UK government has committed to what they call a “Level 2” BIM implementation by the year 2016 and several months ago, the strategic plan for “Level 3” BIM implementation was released under the title of “Digital Built Britain.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Lionel Lambourn of Syntegrate:
Looking Beyond #BIM to Improve #Construction Efficiencies

Related Resources

Syntegrate website

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction from Dassault Systèmes



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