Smarter Construction Collaboration

by Adam Higgins on August 17, 2017

Last time, we dove into how Andy J. Egan Co., a full-service mechanical contractor, is using construction software to improve communication and coordination activities. Today, we look at how the company is extending this same technology to the field.

"When we first brought out BIM 360 Field and iPads onto the shop floor, the first response was, of course, that we are asking everyone to do more. Now it's such a great communication tool, they recognize that it's actually less. They've eliminated the paperwork and some of the cumbersome things that no one really likes doing anyway." -Pat Heffron, Director of Fabrication for Andy J. Egan

At any given time, Andy J. Egan is involved in multiple projects, each with multiple pieces that move through a series of steps–from design to the fabrication shop to the project site. The use of technology to manage this process is exemplified by the company’s work on the Coldwater BPW Peaking Power Plant.

Watch the video to hear directly from Andy J. Egan Co. (~5 minutes).

Design and fabrication

Process improvement starts at the design stage, where Andy J. Egan uses Autodesk fabrication products to model the system and break up the design to individual spool drawings that are released to the fabrication department. Using QR codes, each document is checked in after it leaves the CAD group and is moved onto the floor. With this, the project team knows exactly what spools are on the floor at what time.

Each stage of fabrication is captured in Autodesk BIM 360 Field, and Andy J. Egan uses those records to verify that each quality component has been met as it moves through tacking and welding. So, each individual in the process step is signing off on a portion of the drawing. This has replaced a process where it was very difficult to track each piece as it moved through the fabrication process. With BIM 360 Field, Andy J. Egan can not only track the progress of each spool, but also get real-time visibility into the performance of the fabrication shop.

Construction collaboration on-site

Once a component has passed through the final stage of fabrication, it is loaded onto the truck and shipped to the site, where BIM 360 continues to play a vital role. Real-time tracking alerts the project superintendent when spools will arrive, allowing him to make priority lists and dictate exactly what things need to be constructed first to meet his construction schedule.

Having the model available when spools arrive also helps identify what the team is looking at, catching any problems or miscalculations before the spools were installed—saving time on the front end.

BIM 360 Field is very beneficial for the installation process. The team uses the model to get a clear, visual representation of what is going to be built. They can click on a spool and get the exact dimensions, and see all the related piping next to it—providing a big picture view of what is being built to the entire project team.

Dealing with changes

Managing change orders with BIM 360 Field has also become easier because they now have real-time documentation that can be shown to the customer. Andy J. Egan also uses BIM 360 Field in the issues module to track all of its RFIs. The beauty of the product is that all documents associated with that RFI are already in the system. Because it’s a cloud-based system, the RFIs that are created go back up to the cloud—and from that, they’re able to keep everything current. So, if there is any type of document change in regards to drawings, they can change it one time in BIM 360, and then all that updated information gets sent out to all the iPads after they are synced up in the field. 

Fabrication is pre-planning. With proper planning, components are built early on in a project. So it’s understandable that, if they stop a process halfway through, there is a financial impact. Using BIM provides the documentation to back it up. Without the ability to track and truly monitor every piece and component very carefully, Andy J. Egan wouldn’t be able to find those issues until the end of the project.

Andy J. Egan has seen significant advantages to putting all this technology in the hands of the people in the shop and the field. Historically, BIM has been a great tool for engineers and the pre-planning phase, but now it’s also a tremendous tool for the actual construction phase in regards to visualization. Project teams are no longer just looking at a 2D plan—they’re actually visualizing work through a 3D model.

“We’ve really embraced the technology, we’re excited with how far we’ve come, and we’re even more excited about where the technology is going and how much more we can capitalize on the direction that we are moving with Autodesk.” -Chris Weaver, Director of Technology for Andy J. Egan

Andy J. Egan has been doing so much impressive work, we couldn't fit it all into one article. 

Read Andy J. Egan Co. Improves Communication with Construction Software and find out why technology sits at the heart of their company philosophy: doing things right the first time.

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