SNC-Lavalin’s Clean Power Group improves workflows on a $10.7 billion project with BIM 360 Docs

by David Lasky, Customer Success Manager and Heather Howe, Marketing Editor on December 18, 2018


SNC-Lavalin’s Clean Power Group made its mark 100 years ago in Clean Power and continues to push the boundaries of innovation and efficiency in the energy sector today. Over three years ago, the Site C engineering design team composed of SNC Lavalin, Klohn Crippen Berger, and BC Hydro decided to use BIM for the Generating Station and Spillway (GSS) contract—the second major contract in a multi-contract, hydro-electric facility and dam project. All contracts required seamless coordination between multiple companies.

The Engineering Design Team’s (EDT) commitment to efficiency was challenged by the number of stakeholders involved in each phase of the project. The workflow during the first contract—while successful—proved to be slower than the EDT desired. Partnering with Autodesk to leverage Autodesk® BIM 360® Docs software and Autodesk® BIM 360® Design software proved to be the key solution to taking the workflow to the next level.

Images courtesy SNC-Lavalin Clean Power Group


The project has a large team from 11 different companies in three different countries. Solid communication is essential for success. Because the project is a high-profile endeavor, the EDT did not have external access to the project. To share files across seven different cities, the team set up a local network using SharePoint to exchange files. However, uploading, downloading, and saving individual files grew tedious due to the large number and size of the models.

When the customer began work on the GSS contract, approximately 60 files were being uploaded and downloaded every week as changes were made during the design and construction process. This method of working was proving too time-consuming, and SNC-Lavalin and its partners needed a solution that could help them spend more time on their work.

The team also needed to make the process easier for its employees and its offices. For this large project, individuals from the different offices were asked to relocate to help with specific aspects. Relocating made it easier to collaborate but left its other offices short-staffed and created a time-consuming onboarding process. The customer needed a way to improve this process while still utilizing its talented employees.

Images courtesy SNC-Lavalin Clean Power Group


The release of BIM 360 Next Gen in April 2018 provided the opportunity the Site C Engineering Design Team needed to resolve the challenges they were facing. But with a project this size, immediate integration of the platform wasn’t a possibility.

Before full adoption, the team decided to test the software on a single portion of the project. The GSS has three major structures, including the powerhouse. SNC-Lavalin and its partners generated the largest number of models for the powerhouse due to the incredible amount of equipment it housed. Since this was the most complicated portion of the GSS, it was chosen to test BIM 360 Docs. The Powerhouse was composed of 15 models and four parent files that the models were linked to, to create construction drawings. Later on, BIM 360 Design was used to manage information flow and revision of the parent files.

With a successful test run complete, SNC-Lavalin and its partners had to choose an optimal time for onboarding–a time that wouldn’t disrupt the project. The team was almost half-way through the issuance of IFC drawings, and deadlines could not be moved. Partnering with Autodesk, the customer chose a long weekend to upgrade its entire system. With successful testing complete, the goal was to set up the project that included over 130 Autodesk® Revit® software files and mimic the set-up in the local network. This helped make the onboarding process of 165 people to BIM 360 Docs and Design collaboration go as smoothly as possible.

Images courtesy SNC-Lavalin Clean Power Group


Working with the Autodesk team, the EDT got the project running on BIM 360 Docs in four and half days for 165 users, including 70 users in the client’s office and job site. The upgrade proved to be user-friendly and quick to learn, requiring only a one-hour training session.

Before adopting BIM 360 Docs, several individuals from the multiple offices spent up to ten hours per week uploading and downloading model files. Now on the BIM 360 platform, team members make and review changes to models in real-time. Collaborators from different cities view alterations instantaneously, saving the entire team approximately 20 hours per week.

Any time a change is made to a model, there is the potential that the change will affect another aspect of the design—sometimes in a negative way. To ensure there were never any errors, drafters used to spend hours reviewing and updating a model each time there was a change. Now with the new software, reviews happen as the changes are made, reducing the workflow by up to four hours per drafter.

Now that team members can collaborate in real time, SNC-Lavalin and its partners can utilize talented staff without moving employees between offices. As a result, the current project has the best minds on the job and other offices never lose team members to other endeavors. 

Images courtesy SNC-Lavalin Clean Power Group


“BIM 360, I think it already has made a huge improvement in the workflow. Because the project is about to get a lot more complicated now that we’re going to start the new phase. I think this was like a breath of fresh air…We’re in the clean power group, but I found there were not a lot of companies working in 3D. Some of our other offices have used 3D platforms before, but this provides us with a new level of efficiency that makes us more competitive. Now we are able to collaborate on a platform that you can access from anywhere. That definitely puts us in a very good spot in the industry.”

-    Rodrigo Freig, BIM Manager at SNC Lavalin Clean Power Group and the Site C Project

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