BIM 360 Layout Fills an Important Gap in Construction Workflow
The release of the Autodesk BIM 360 Layout app for iOS expands Autodesk’s BIM 360 Cloud Service ecosystem to add an important model verification step for General Contractors and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) contractors. The software combines with a robotic surveying instrument (the Topcon LN-100) to extend Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the construction layout process where the model is viewable on an iPad in the field coupled with the precision of a survey instrument for verifying and resolving jobsite activities.
Autodesk’s BIM 360 mobile apps and cloud tools are being adopted at a great rate by construction firms because of the productivity gains that can be achieved on the jobsite. This latest Layout tool has undergone extensive field testing and prototyping with ongoing use on several construction sites with remarkable results.
PCL Construction has used the product on a Denver project in Cherry Creek for a multi-use building with Class A residential, underground parking, and retail. Significant dollar savings have been achieved by reducing the typical number of RFI’s on things that are misplaced or badly installed. With the BIM 360 Layout tool, there is the ability to verify stakes, installed components (MEP) and stub ups against the model before concrete is poured. The tools also provides increased flexibility to accelerate the schedule thanks to the speed and accuracy of the verification process.
“We trained an MEP coordinator within 15 minutes, and sent her out to verify sleeve locations on deck,” said Jarrod Krug, Autodesk’s BIM 360 Industry Marketing Manager. “Literally within 15 minutes she found a sleeve on the model that wasn’t on the deck.”
In this case, the report on the missing sleeve was exported back to the client site design model for a deviation analysis. They discovered that the sleeve was missing, and the pour was happening the next day. A notification was sent out through BIM 360 Field, which was handed down to the MEP contractor and the sleeve was installed quickly before the pour.
The connected virtual design process and workflow aids the QA/QC process by comparing the coordinated model to the work underway, allowing users to rectify details before having to go through the time-consuming and costly task of solving messy problems, such as cutting through poured concrete.
The onsite access to the model combined with location precision fits nicely into the growing trend of more precast and pre-assembled components that get integrated into buildings without the need for staging and storage onsite. The items, such as precast concrete component and even prefab bathrooms, arrive onsite and can be moved directly to their location.
The BIM 360 Field solution aids this process with its ability to read and catalog bar coded components. Users can assign tasks or detail install instructions related to components, and you can visually see where the prefab components fit into the project schedule.
“There is a huge time compression on job sites and there are also issues with access,” said Krug. “That’s the huge advantage of prefab components that come pre-assembled. You save time and you don’t have to find a place to store them.”
Analytics and Reporting
When work is completed or checked back in, the administrators on the project can look at the progress and interrogate the model to see nuances of the schedule and the work. Each element has a timeline and each user has their tasks.
This new level of detail provides an added level of accountability — you can understand problems with components or individual contractors related to their performance. You can also coordinate and collaborate on clashes of schedule or components to refine internal corporate processes as well as problems on the job site.
“We build things twice now, first in the model and then on the job site, proving things in the digital world before building it in the real world,” said Krug.
Software and Hardware
Autodesk has been increasingly embracing hardware vendors to help streamline the BIM workflows. We’ve seen that recently with Autodesk ReCap that provides laser point cloud software for use with the laser scanners that is reliant on a hardware product. With BIM 360 Layout, it’s Topcon’s LM100 (www.topconpositioning.com/products/bim/ln-100) robotic instrument that is married to the BIM 360 tools and service.
The Topcon hardware is built around simplicity with a three-button system. You simply line the instrument over a known point, connect the tablet via WiFi, and then you can begin viewing and comparing the model against the construction reality. A setup guide is also there to help you through the process.
The Autodesk BIM 360 Layout app is available for download on the Apple App Store and requires a Subscription to the BIM 360 web service. It is available globally in English. The Topcon LN-100 Total Station can be purchased from a Topcon authorized BIM dealer, and is available globally.
BIM 360 is becoming a more fully realized construction project management ecosystem that breaks down barriers between trades. Key to this is the standardization and low-cost hardware coupled with the flexibility of the cloud.
Gone is the need for connections between different applications and the need for specialized training on each device and tool. The cumbersome transfer of information between applications is time consuming and rife with compatibility issues, and that’s no longer part of the equation.
Contractors access the construction design model in Revit, Navisworks or AutoCAD and in the act of phasing parts of the construction they put layout points on specific parts of the construction, such as at the end of slabs or where sleeves are located. That process is done with Autodesk Point Layout, which is a plugin to the Autodesk design applications. From there they “Glue Up” that model with the points into the BIM 360 Glue web environment, and once that data sits in BIM 360 Web the administer can assign point sets based on tasks aligned to the schedule.
The individual that has been assigned the points receives tasks via e-mail with a link that automatically opens the BIM 360 app on their iPad. They are presented with the list of those points alongside the model, with both their tasks for the day and the model to guide them through their work. The users can download the model completely, so that they don’t need to be connected to the Internet. If the user encounters a problem with the model they document it and share it with the swipe of a finger.
Back on the client system, using the Autodesk BIM 360 Point Layout plugin with any of the Autodesk design tools (Revit, Navisworks or AutoCAD), the manager downloads the deviation into the client software to verify if anything is wrong. They then can create a task or issue a report that details where things are wrong. They can track this digital workflow and assign responsibility if work was performed incorrectly, indemnifying the general contractor from the legal liability and the need to pay for the mistakes of others.
The whole process doesn’t involve the exchange of file types, passing of USB sticks or any traditional file transfer and translation. The BIM 360 ecosystem provides a very seamless exchange of information that takes the pain out of coordinating the model, and increasingly the coordinated model drives the construction process.
“If you have a lot of slack in the line of your current process, when an architect or owner makes a change that causes havoc,” said Krug. “When you have these connected solutions that are instantly updated and then driven to the field those problems go away. You can have an interruption from an owner or architect that can be updated in the model and then immediately out on the job site for installation.”
Autodesk BIM 360 Layout provides the piece that involves the contractors more fully in the modeling process, making sure that every trade on the jobsite is aligned. Layout connects instantly to the data driven by the model, allowing all to be more responsive to the realities of the construction process with the model solidly at the center as the point of truth.
See Autodesk’s own coverage of this announcement (including podcast conversations) here.