By Roddy Handa, Lawyer, Architect, Problem Solver, holo-blok architecture
As part of an Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD, team, holo-blok architecture was a co-prime consultant for the delivery of two new schools in west Edmonton for Edmonton Public Schools. The IPD team included Delnor Construction, ACI Architects Inc, Priority Mechanical Ltd., CDN. Power Pac, Williams Engineering Canada Inc., MCW Hemisphere, EcoAmmo Sustainable Consulting, Ideal Contract Services Ltd, and Spartan Steel.
With so much expertise at the table from project inception (a hallmark of the IPD model), we were able to strategize unique ways of eliminating project waste and maximizing how we could use digital tools to be more efficient. Utilizing Lean principles, which have become an integral aspect of IPD, the focus was on shifting decisions, work effort, and deliverables to the party best suited for a given task.
Without fear of the repercussions found in more traditional procurement models, the IPD team was more willing to agree to these shifts. The agreement was premised on a simple idea that what is good for the project is what is good for the entire team. This idea is codified through the profit- sharing scheme inherent in an IPD model, but these principles are not exclusive to IPD. They could conceivably be applied to other procurement models with appropriate adjustments.
The biggest advantage from the standpoint of a co-prime consultant was being able to push the limits of using digital tools to support workflows. Since the team was essentially a single purpose entity formed for the project, we all shared resources instead of doubling up on common roles. For example, holo-blok acted as the Digital Project Delivery Lead for the project because of our expertise in the area. We were a shared resource, managing the digital infrastructure that included dRofus and BIM 360.
dRofus was used for the purposes of programming the project and verifying that the proposed design complied with the requirements set early in the project. In addition, dRofus compiles all asset information for use during operations and maintenance. BIM 360 was used as a common data environment for the project. All models and drawings were hosted on this platform and coordination issues, inquiries, and suggestions were associated to the vector drawings in one location.
BIM 360 is an effective common data environment that provides the ability to collaborate real-time with project partners regardless of their geographic location and corporate affiliation. The value of this cannot be understated. When augmented with other platforms, like Procore (which holo-blok has used on numerous projects), with its entire suite of available tools that augments the BIM 360 environment this process gets taken to the next level. BIM 360 is a marked improvement from the way we collaborated only a few years ago. It should be used alongside Procore as it facilitates real-time collaboration of BIM models natively in Revit – a capability that Procore currently does not support.
These tools replaced more conventional practices of managing project data and decisions through spreadsheets. All project data was instantaneously available to all project team members at any given time. There was no need for file exchanges, publishing “current” versions, or purging out proprietary material. That alone likely saved the project tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the project.
Moreover, communication, discussions, and responsibilities were tracked using these digital tools. It seems absurd that to rely on stale methods of communication when there are so many parties involved and the complexity of projects keeps increasing. Using tools like BIM 360 and Procore, project teams can more readily monitor project decisions and be assured that they are always dealing with the most relevant information when contributing to a project. In short, this is all about mitigating project risks.
Mitigation of risk is a concern on all projects. Usually this breeds an adversarial culture and a passing of responsibilities because no one wants to be left holding the bag. In IPD, this disappears. There is a shared incentive in lifting the entire team and stepping outside of conventional scope delineations without fear of repercussion.
We were fortunate to have this materialize on these IPD projects. Ideal Contract Services, the steel stud and drywall partner for the project, were eager to implement Building Information Modelling in their process. They recognized the inherent value in the consultant models and wanted to explore how this value could be carried through to their scope. The problem was that, like most trades, Ideal did not have an in-house BIM team.
With the agreement of the IPD team, Ideal was able to leverage holo-blok to develop frameworks and create steel stud models. The result generated significant value for the entire team. From Ideal’s perspective, they were able to quantify each stud, order precise sizes from the manufacturer, identify gaps between structural steel and studs, and minimize physical waste on-site. This saved time and money for the entire project.
From an entire team perspective, costly coordination items were caught early, and adjustments were made in a digital world before they materialized on site. In a typical scenario, stud walls are erected, issues are identified, the wall is dismounted, and then reconstructed to suit the practical realities of construction. Instead, this was all avoided through real-time coordination and confirmation of proposed construction methods.
In summary, we have discovered that procurement models have a direct correlation with the ability to leverage digital practices to make design and construction more efficient. When the perceived barriers of risk, liability, and scope are removed from the equation, teams are more willing to share information, ideas, and try new practices. This is essential if we are going to progress the industry so that we can all be more profitable and generate greater value for all project stakeholders.