AECOM leverages BIM 360 Design to realize 20% time savings on global collaboration

by Keith Marr, Customer Success Manager, and Val Maass, Copywriter on January 08, 2018


With a challenging collaboration project between offices in China and Australia, Enterprise Business Agreement (EBA) customer AECOM turned to Autodesk for a successful solution. By implementing Autodesk® BIM 360® Design (formerly Collaboration for Revit, or C4R) late into a 24-week project, AECOM was able to save time, enhance productivity, and complete the project on schedule.

Customer Background

AECOM is a premier, fully integrated global infrastructure firm, consistently ranking number one in its key markets. With 87,000 employees, AECOM serves commercial and government clients in more than 150 countries across all seven continents. Worldwide, AECOM designs, builds, finances, and operates projects and programs that unlock new opportunities, protect the environment, and improve people’s lives. In 2017, AECOM earned $18.2 billion in revenue.

This Fortune 500 company has been named among Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for the last three years and has been ranked number one in Engineering New-Record’s “Top 500 Design Firms” for eight consecutive years.

Success Story

Challenge: AECOM’s Melbourne team was redeveloping the historic Olderfleet Building (1888 to 1889) into a premium 55,000-square-meter, 40-story office tower—offering innovative, contemporary, and engaging workspaces, while incorporating unique Victorian facades. The existing building interiors needed to undergo an extensive refurbishment and modernization to create boutique office and retail space in downtown Melbourne.

AECOM’s Melbourne team partnered with the China Delivery Center (CDC) in Shenzhen part of the Global Delivery Services (GDS) to help produce reinforcement detailing for the redevelopment project. Traditionally, the GDS team worked with other AECOM offices using a file-sharing-based workflow. However, the Shenzhen-based team was unable to gain access to work via the project server, which required using a server at another location to pass along large files at agreed-upon project milestones. There was a potential risk of significant delays in design production through this process, largely because the timing of changes and reviews were dictated by those milestones.

Solution:  Just six weeks before the 24-week project’s completion, Autodesk worked with AECOM to implement BIM 360 Design—creating a cloud-based environment that enabled both teams to collaborate and work simultaneously on live models. This gave the Shenzhen team access to the latest information at all times while enabling the Melbourne team to see the Shenzhen team’s work in real time—allowing the Melbourne team to identify existing and emerging issues much earlier than it had prior to BIM 360 Design’s implementation.

Autodesk was called on to initiate set-up of BIM 360 Design on the project, which involved several key factors to be successful. The team provided leadership to enable appropriate project workflows, while a planned approach ensured that key risks were identified prior to implementation; this included specifically looking at AECOM’s network infrastructure performance. Autodesk worked directly with AECOM’s Information Technology (IT) team to ensure that hardware and network connections between offices were suitable for BIM 360 Design performance. They also ensured appropriate software versions were in place -- key to preventing data conflicts across the teams. Once any issues were resolved in a test environment, Autodesk provided the AECOM team with hands-on BIM 360 Design training and support.

Success: The adoption of BIM 360 Design reduced the turnaround time of the teams’ work across two locations by at least eight hours per week for a team of four people, based in Shenzhen and Melbourne. Savings came mainly from a reduction in turnaround time needed to conduct remote design reviews. The production of three large drawings of mark-ups per package, previously needed, was now avoided. Consequently, it took just under five days to deliver each package, instead of 6 days. That’s a 20 percent saving in production time. There were eight similar work packages delivered on the project in the remaining six weeks of the project, all achieving at least a 20 percent improvement in production time.

As a result, AECOM completed the project more than a week earlier than would have previously been possible, and this was achieved during the final 6 weeks of the project. Because the Melbourne team were able to review work as it progressed, rather than after it was done, the teams no longer needed to hold remote weekly design reviews. This instilled greater confidence that project deadlines would be achieved. Once the teams could work concurrently in a collaborative environment using BIM 360 Design, they were able to save even more time (although less quantifiable).

Although BIM 360 Design was introduced just six weeks before the end of the 24-week project, it led to significant time savings. The project had already been running for close to six months, with approximately 500 hours already completed by the Shenzhen team. The project team now recognizes that if BIM 360 Design had been adopted at the project’s outset, they would have saved close to 100 hours over the course of the project. Realizing this missed opportunity, AECOM is now committed to using BIM 360 Design on future Revit-based workshare projects.

“The adoption of BIM 360 Design on this project simplified the workflow immensely for external work-sharing, the old workflow of file handovers created a real risk to project deadlines. Having real-time access to the project status resulted in greater confidence across the project team. Autodesk Enterprise Support was instrumental in the smooth application of BIM 360 Design so late in the project – their technical experience ensured minimal downtime to the project.”

Ben May, BIM Manager, Melbourne office

The result was a significantly more productive workflow and capability-uplift for Shenzhen, collaborating within a BIM environment across multiple geographies. Going forward, this workflow is expected to be scaled across AECOM’s project teams working in the APAC region.

Since the introduction of BIM 360 Design's cloud-based workflow, AECOM has achieved significantly higher productivity levels compared to the traditional file sharing based workflow. The figure below is a comparison between the two scenarios; the first is AECOM’s traditional model handover process using file-sharing, while the second is the recently improved collaborative workflow using BIM 360 Design.

Now that the Shenzhen team has increased its BIM 360 Design-based collaboration capabilities, Revit and BIM 360 Design usage are expected to increase. The knowledge that cloud-sharing workflows lead to higher productivity will drive BIM 360 Design usage among AECOM’s Revit-enabled teams across APAC.

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