BIM 360 helps Atkins provide key clients in East Africa with easy access to project and design data

by Bisrat Solomon Degefa, Head of Digital Engineering for East Africa, Atkins (Member of the SNC-Lavalin Group); Said Ezeldin, Customer Success Manager; and Val Maass, Copywriter on April 16, 2018


An Autodesk Enterprise customer since 2013, Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, is a frequent user of Autodesk technologies, including Autodesk® AutoCAD®, BIM tools, and a mix of 2D/3D solutions. But as the company seeks to raise its profile in Africa’s competitive design and construction market, Atkins has initiated a company-wide digital transformation to elevate the ‘Atkins experience’ for clients. Working closely with Autodesk, Atkins implemented cloud-based Autodesk® BIM 360® Team on two of its key projects in East Africa—successfully providing the customers with simple, mobile access to up-to-date project and design information.  

Customer Background and Goals

Atkins is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering, and project management consultancies. Together with SNC-Lavalin—a fully integrated, global professional services and project management company—Atkins helps clients plan, design, and enable major capital projects, and provides expert consultancy covering the full project lifecycle. Its specialized services can be contracted from niche tasks to mega-projects.

As part of its overall digital strategy, SNC-Lavalin is focused on driving a company-wide, digital transformation, with the goal of realizing sustainable and profitable growth through technical and delivery excellence. Additionally, the company seeks to maintain its leading status in a competitive, ever-changing industry.

Success Story

Challenge: Atkins’s regional team—based in Kenya and Tanzania—is focused on developing the ‘Atkins experience’ for its clients where access to project information is a key feature, while differentiating itself from other companies in a highly commoditized market. Atkins’s approach has been to evaluate its existing ways of working; how it plans and designs; and how to maximize the use of that valuable data it already produces, rather than recreating it.

In growing its regional presence in East Africa, Atkins won two significant projects, some of the company’s largest in East Africa. These included the development of mixed-use twin towers in central Nairobi—a signature project for Atkins—and an extensive master plan incorporating a 10,000-unit, affordable housing complex. In taking on these key engagements, particularly the twin towers, Atkins wanted to push the boundary of its client relationships by utilizing all available technology. “We really wanted to engage with the clients to build a relationship,” said Bisrat Solomon Degefa, Atkins’s Head of Digital Engineering for East Africa. “We wanted to get their input and give them a whole new experience than what they would expect from a designer.” That meant providing clients with up-to-date design data in the form of rich 3D models—and making it all available through an easy-to-use platform they could access wherever and whenever, something that has not been available to them today without purchasing software applications and training.

“From the outset, we had intentions to make their designs available to them via an iPhone or iPad [so that our clients] could see the progress of their designs, of their projects.”
Bisrat Solomon Degefa, Head of Digital Engineering for East Africa, Atkins

The enablement of client access to project information was a priority, but Atkins needed to maximize the efficiency of the teams delivering the projects, as well. Doing so would require facilitating team-wide communication and access to design information across geographically diverse offices in East Africa, the Middle East, India, and the United Kingdom. To do so effectively, said Bisrat, “We needed a cloud-based information-sharing system.”

Solution: From the beginning, Bisrat and his team looked at all the various ways to provide simple digital access to both Atkins clients and its multi-regional project teams, but eventually selected BIM 360 Team for its many benefits. The tool allowed the design team to incorporate BIM 360 Team into its existing workflow by replacing the use of local file storage as the file-sharing method for coordinating with one another. Making the transition even smoother, BIM 360 Team was an easy ‘plug-and-play’ solution that didn’t require any heavy installations or special software, ultimately enabling Atkins and the client easy access to project design information.

“What really worked for us about BIM 360 Team was that we didn’t really have to do much to our internal processes to adopt the tool [so], the switch had minimal impact on our existing workflows.”
Bisrat Solomon Degefa, Head of Digital Engineering for East Africa, Atkins

Success: Since implementing the BIM 360 Team platform and leveraging the power of the cloud on the two Africa-based projects, Atkins is well on its way to defining and optimizing the Atkins experience for its key clients there—enabling access, collaboration, data re-use, and accuracy, and essentially reducing the time needed to develop compliant and coordinated designs. The client is now able to hold ‘Live Reviews’ during which multiple stakeholders, including the wider project team, can review the same rich information in real time from any location or type of device (i.e. smartphone, tablet, laptop). In fact, a productive model review session can now be done live in as little as five minutes.

“BIM 360 Team makes [information] accessible to everyone so that we could satisfy what we wanted to provide our clients—which was an up-to-date design from the palm of their hands. It also allows us to make information available to all on the project team, for awareness. Normally, not everyone has the training or awareness to access 3D info.”
Bisrat Solomon Degefa, Head of Digital Engineering for East Africa, Atkins

Since adopting BIM 360 Team, Atkins can easily communicate 3D info to clients and give them timely access to design progress information, which is a real value-add. With the capability the platform provides—which Bisrat called a “real eye-opener”—Atkins can also add mobility to its list of service offerings. This both empowers its clients and gives Atkins a competitive edge in a region where it strives to make an impact. “We’re really keen on going straight for ‘what’s now, what’s happening’—and that includes best practice technology and processes,” he said. “More importantly, we’re now in a really good position to take a leading role and bring new ways of working to the local region and market.”

With proven success on these two current projects, Atkins plans to adopt the BIM 360 Team platform much more widely. “Our goal is to make all of our projects available in that format, in that manner,” said Bisrat. “The realization that we could do it was a start, now we’re trying to make it the standard.” By enriching BIM with mobility, the Autodesk solution allows Atkins to enhance its clients’ experience and become a more digital lead company.

Images courtesy of Atkins.

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