Getting Ahead of the Curve

When it comes to driving value for customers, bringing innovative solutions to problems is a powerful asset.

In Skanska’s Building Division, the preconstruction group has been utilizing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and parametric estimating technology to help accelerate the building process from concept design to final estimate – to the growing delight of customers and colleagues.

It started – as most great ideas do – with the need to solve a problem.

In Boston, Preconstruction Estimator Tony Meade and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Managers Matt Emond and Jeremy Thibodeau  realized that their preconstruction work of estimating costs for projects was made challenging by the limited availability of information at the early stages of design. They knew enhancing early design concepts from designers by using advanced BIM technology tools could speed projects and help customers. So they developed a way to create their own models that would allow them to start their estimating work sooner.

“In early designs, the detailed information we rely on to estimate a job is often lacking,” says Matt Emond. “Estimating needs to start before a design has been fully fleshed out. By creating a 3D model and sharing it with the entire team, you eliminate those delays.”

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(left to right:) Kelsey Stein, David Kabasin, Jeff Courtney, and Teresa Morales, of the Tampa Preconstruction department, look over a parametric estimating job, also displayed on the screen behind them. Credit: Skanska USA.

Our preconstruction team in Tampa, FL is utilizing what it calls a “Revit Takeoff Template” to extract material quantities using 3D models. Estimator Kelsey Stein says the process helps express a design intent and include costs. The “Takeoff Template” is proving to be a very helpful estimate expediting tool, one which was developed along with a training lesson to share the knowledge with other Skanska Preconstruction Teams throughout the US, according to the team.

“We spend less time counting and measuring so we are able to spend more time addressing issues that make the project better,” says Stein. “We are also standardizing how we can express the quantities for a building.”

Some iterations of the technologies allow project details to be changed on the fly and provide cost changes for the customer, instantly. “We can move a wall or change a finish and the estimate can rise or fall based on the change, right there on the screen. That’s an enormous advantage,” says Emond.

USF - Parametric Estimating

An example of parametric estimating that allows real-time adjustments to material costs (at left) as the design of a building is modified (at right). The result speeds projects through multiple iterations keeping a close eye on cost.

The innovation has had added benefits – with seasoned estimators and younger technical experts sharing information in both directions – a kind of two-way mentoring system.  “Experienced team members are learning model usage to their benefit and our tech savvy model users are climbing the estimating learning curve quicker by working together behind the wheel of a BIM model,” says Steve Stouthamer, EVP for Project Planning.

“From an architectural standpoint, this is the future of construction,” says Tampa-based Preconstruction Manager Jeff Courtney. “We’re looking to take lessons learned from this template to develop other 3D tools; this is just the beginning.”

Thibodeau, a member of Skanska’s Innovative Construction Solutions Group, says the merger of images and bottom-line cost can help avoid having customers fixate only on the budget of a project, and allow a discussion about the benefits of building something to its maximum potential.

“A client was flipping through a project cost proposal and had a question, and recalled the model we had created. It demonstrated the power of images and how they connect to the data. It was an ‘a-ha’ moment for us, knowing we had moved the project in the right direction,” says Thibodeau.

“We want to use the extra time the models give us to add value to the project,” says Stein. “With the time we get back, we can more carefully scrutinize pricing levels, analyze sustainability options and review other important elements.  Everything we do in advance of construction makes the project better for the people who build it.”

“I see us doing more and more of this because it’s a benefit to the client, and it helps us build better,” says Emond.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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