Getting Lean

One of the ways we can bring increased value to our clients and customers is through the implementation of Lean methodologies on our projects, which focuses on eliminating waste in our processes and enhancing collaboration among team members. The implementation of Lean methodologies in the construction industry is growing in popularity and use – and Skanska is leading the charge.

Lean methodologies can be used throughout a project’s lifetime, from the earliest design phases through to occupancy, managing the process with minimum cost and maximum value.

“We use Lean methodologies to identify and respond to our customer concerns and goals,” says Carmen Jordan, Lean Management Director for Skanska USA Building’s Seattle office and vice-chair of the National Lean Committee. “We focus on the end goal and how we can work together as a team to get there in the most efficient way possible, thereby spending less time on processes and procedures.”

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The Lean Construction Institute Congress attracted hundreds who work with Lean techniques every day.

At the recently held Lean Construction Institute Congress, an annual gathering of thought leaders, consultants, academics, CM firms, subcontractors, design firms and clients from around the world, participants shared best practices in the spirit of industry-wide collaboration and continuous improvement.

As a gold sponsor of the event, Skanska had the opportunity to present Skanska’s Lean journey: how Skanska built on the grassroots efforts of several of its offices to deliver value to customers by utilizing Lean practices to, today, having a national lean strategy that is core to Skanska’s business. Michael Zeppieri, Skanska Director of VDC Services and vice-chair of the National Lean Committee, and Rebecca Jablonowski explained how, ultimately, Skanska will encourage creative, collaborative thinking among all employees and promote a continuous effort to eliminate waste throughout our operations.

“What was most insightful was hearing how firms are striking the balance of elevating best practices developed through grassroots efforts at local offices, like our Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIW) developed in Seattle, and introducing them in a way such that other offices are receptive to them, particularly offices experiencing Lean for the first time,” said Zeppieri. “There was a definite focus on the cultural aspect of Lean transformation and it was encouraging to see that – relative to our competition – Skanska is right where it needs to be.”

What does the future of Lean hold for Skanska?

“The Executive Leadership Team has chartered formation of a national Lean Committee within Skanska to help spread the Lean culture, including a rollout of Basic Lean Training and a platform for sharing best practices,” says Jordan. “Once people experience the powerful effects of implementing Lean methodologies, the more they get excited and want to use it. We’ve seen a very positive response.”

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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Ensuring Your In-Season Stadium Renovation is No Sweat

With the fall collegiate sports season in full swing, stadiums across the country are packed with fans – students, parents, and alumni – cheering for a home team win.

With so much on the line – from pride in alma mater to TV contracts and alumni donations – making sure nothing upends that mix is critical. In that context, upgrading stadiums to better serve fans and players can often take a back seat to the season game schedule. But sometimes, it’s the best option, and for a number of reasons.

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The right design can make the decision to build during the season an easy one. Such was the case for our renovation and expansion of Commonwealth Stadium at the University of Kentucky. The design included a new ring of concession stands, public restrooms and other stadium operations outside the existing ring at the lower and upper concourse. This allowed for construction to occur outside the stadium before and during the season.

Technology helped immensely, with 2-D and 3-D surveys – including 3-D laser scanning – which identified obstructions that could have conflicted with the proposed design.  And while most active construction did not occur on game days, communication about what to expect when coming to the game was critical. Our project team participated in every game day logistics planning meeting to make sure the stadium operations staff understood areas under construction and our staff helped support the event by providing necessary temporary facilities.

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Skanska has developed its Project Corners app for which tracks construction progress and notifies users, preparing them for a day in the vicinity of our projects.

During our first year on the project, we had seven home football games amidst the construction to plan around. One of the most important priorities was to get the TV broadcast compound completed in time for the first season so the SEC Network could utilize the new power and distribution system.

Also critical was prioritizing all premium seating and corresponding amenities. The proposed design of the stadium renovation involved an overall reduction of the stadium seating capacity, moving the student section and many long time season ticket holders. We also demolished the center sections of the stadium lower bowl in order to construct outdoor patio decks over premium club spaces below, re-configured the floor slabs in the old press box, and built new structured decks for the loge seating area.

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We created the Coaches Club, Loft Club and Loge Lounge, each of which leveraged sight lines (or lack thereof) with food and beverage and seating options to create a unique fan experience. Rising above the seating bowl are the upper two stories of the new suite/press tower, which includes the Founders Suite on the 50-yard line, UK athletic director suite and visiting team athletic director suite, with outdoor terraces at each end of this level serving as additional hospitality areas. The second level includes all press and broadcast functions, additional suites and home and visitor coaches’ booths. Capping off the suite/press tower are two camera platforms located on the roof.

In addition to the premium amenities, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart wanted the player game day experience to be top notch. The east end zone seating was dismantled and rebuilt so a new game day locker room could be built at the field level. The space is supported by coaches’ lockers, training room, equipment room, and media interview room. Above the locker room is the recruiting lounge where, on every game day, future Wildcat Football Players are hosted to banquet-style dining, video walls of highlight reel action of UK greats and access to an in-stadium terrace located next to the marching band and above the student seating section over the home team tunnel to the field.

Doing in-season stadium renovations means balancing sports with construction progress. However, by taking the necessary planning and safety precautions, both in advance and during the game, the project can stay on track and loyal fans can still enjoy cheering their teams on to victory.

Larry Casey

Larry Casey

Larry Casey is a Senior Vice President in charge of the Centers of Excellence, Sales and Marketing, National Account Management and Large Pursuit support for Skanska USA Building.

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Not Your Grandpa’s Library

Asked to envision a library, one might conjure up images of stacks of musty books, dimly-lit wood-paneled rooms in hushed silence and cabinets of Dewey Decimal cards that lead to a prized tome.

Our Dayton Metro Main Library project in Ohio is anything but that: with design elements that include glass, steel and natural materials that bring in natural light, open space and encourage social interaction in a model that turns traditional library construction on its head.

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The Main Branch of the Dayton Library will incorporate future-proofing elements like raised floors for cable runs and back-of-house space for next-gen technologies that will make the structure more inviting and longer-lasting. Credit: Skanska USA.

“It’s more like a community center than a library – there’s an emphasis on programming and connection,” says Senior Project Manager Greg Lowery. He describes the all-glass building as maximizing exposure “in every nook and cranny” and incorporating movable glass partition walls to make the space as nimble as possible to accommodate groups both large and small.

The Main Library is one of five buildings Skanska is working on for Dayton’s expansive library system – and one of two projects with an expansion component we are constructing there. A third is a completely new building.

Lowery says his favorite elements in the renovated building include a grand staircase entrance and a planned fireplace with exposed brick that will provide a welcoming space to read and interact. A coffee shop will fill the space with inviting aromas.

Beyond the design elements, Lowery says Skanska’s expertise came through in making the building flexible for its future needs. He points out the building has raised floors rather than concrete slabs, allowing installation of new cable and utility runs simply by removing a panel. He says that will make future room re-configurations easier and save money for the library and the city.

“We helped look beyond the immediate plans for the library to leave room for technologies and expansions that will come 10 and 20 years from now,” he says. “We helped preserve options for future developments no one can even predict today.”

Skanska has particular expertise in this area, having provided preconstruction and construction management at risk services for the multi-award winning James B. Hunt Jr. Library on North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus.

Lowery credits the Skanska preconstruction teams with helping to cost-benefit the future-proofing concepts and convincing the client of its importance.

“And kids will love it,” he says. “With USB charging ports and tablets available to search for information, it’s a long way from when I sat in the basement of my library searching microfiche archives for a term paper.”

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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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.

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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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Five ways the patient room in hospitals should be changing

NXT Health, a non-profit that promotes change in the healthcare industry through sponsorship of design innovation, is the creator of the next-generation hospital room, Patient Room 2020. This interactive room is designed for a next-generation inpatient care environment that strives to improve patient experiences and optimize caregiver performance.

NXT Health worked with more than 35 product and service partners. We’re honored to have been one of those partners, providing the project management, permitting and construction estimates for the project. From the innovative designs of lighting experts, software developers, specialty glass manufacturers and custom fabricators, the Patient Room 2020 was built into a 400-square-foot prototype and is on display at DuPont’s Corian Design Studio in New York City.

We think this prototype shows at least five important trends that will influence inpatient rooms of the future. They include:

1)      Blending technology seamlessly: This prototype has what is called a ‘patient ribbon,’ an overhead canopy, above the patient’s bed, that incorporates life controls, an HVAC diffuser, lighting, audio controls, and a color halo. “Each part of that ribbon has been rethought to house as much technology as possible,” says Christopher Whitelaw, director of research and development at Evans and Paul, a partner in the Corian Design Studio and lead fabricator in Patient Room 2020. David Ruthven, principal designer of Patient Room 2020 calls it his “Swiss Army Knife.”  It also addresses the ability to change along with the sea of changes coming as a result of the ACA without the need for major changes to the built environment.  As an example, the ribbon facilitates the growing use of telemedicine.

2)      Providing the patient easy access to information and controls: A solid aluminum frame mounted on wheels combines two ubiquitous elements:  an over-bed table and a touchscreen tablet to form a single piece of mobile furniture that could be utilized in a wide range of healthcare settings. The hybrid tabletop provides room to eat on one side and a table on the other side, allowing the patient’s access to educational content, social networks and control of the temperature, audio and lighting in the room.

3)      Having a better bathroom: The prototype has an adaptable bathroom concept that features a sliding door system which can be reconfigured based on care needs. If a patient needs assistance in the bathroom, the expandable door will make the bathroom area larger to accommodate an assistant.

4)      Improving safety via the caregiver station: Imagine a workstation featuring integrated hand washing indicator lights and concealed accessories. The integrated LED light illuminates the sink in color – red if you have not washed your hands well, and green if you have.

5)      Creating a mobile caregiver hub: Caregivers have the flexibility to move around with a deployable bedside work area with embedded technology, simulated UV light sanitization and wireless device charging stations.

The project serves as an example of what design can do to address the complex challenges that face modern healthcare delivery. This effort was specifically for a patient room, but the reality is that many of the ideas and outcomes can find their way into the outpatient setting and even into your home.  Skanska is proud to be working on a project that values innovation, and the advancement of construction in the healthcare industry to benefit both patients and caregivers.

Check out images of the Patient Room 2020 in the slideshow below.

Andrew Quirk

Andrew Quirk

Skanska USA Senior Vice President and national director of Healthcare Center of Excellence

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Building a home where Alzheimer’s patients can thrive

In this installment of our #BuildingWhatMatters blog series, Senior Project Manager Jeff Elpers explores how design and construction can improve the quality of life for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and how a new treatment model may transform memory care across the U.S. 

With the U.S. population aging, Alzheimer’s has become the sixth leading cause of death, affecting more than 5.3 million people.  Patients with Alzheimer’s are often cared for in nursing homes or other healthcare facilities. While these provide important and essential care, the realities of life with Alzheimer’s means that patients require specific environments designed to alleviate some of the disease’s unique challenges.

To that end, Skanska recently completed the construction of Abe’s Garden in Nashville, Tenn. Abe’s Garden is believed to be the first memory care community in the U.S. designed and built to demonstrate and disseminate best practices to improve the lives of individuals and their care takers affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The 33,000-square-foot facility can house 42 full-time residents and 15 adult day care/evening care participants.

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Abe’s Garden was designed to feel as home-like as possible, with three family-sized households themed around arts and lifelong learning; connecting to nature; and music and movement. 

Collaborating on an increasingly important type of healthcare facility

While Skanska is an expert at building healthcare facilities, the Alzheimer-centered design elements at Abe’s Garden presented some unique challenges. We took on an extensive planning role, partnering with the customer – Park Manor – and designers to enable a design that met the overall goals while staying within budget.

Designing for Alzheimer’s & dementia

For those with Alzheimer’s, routines are vitally important. Anything out of the ordinary can be incredibly disorienting. Abe’s Garden was therefore designed to feel as home-like as possible, with three family-sized households themed around arts and lifelong learning; connecting to nature; and music and movement. A central enclosed courtyard connects the three households and serves as an important therapeutic environment. Since patients can become upset in unfamiliar places, these households have retro design-features from the 1950s that residents may recognize from their childhood. From a construction point of view, this meant building a commercial healthcare building – complete with all the requisite health, safety and fire code regulations – but with residential finishes. For example, to echo a typical home, the roof was designed with decorative shingles – not something that is usually attached to a commercial-grade steel roof!  Resolving such challenges required our team to devise innovative solutions.

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The Abe’s Garden courtyard features a  single looped sidewalk, allowing patients to enjoy walks without the concern of wandering.

In addition to ensuring the facility had a residential feel, we also had to make sure it was secure and safe for patients suffering from memory loss. Alzheimer’s patients are prone to what is termed as “wandering,” so all the complex’s exterior doors accessible by patients were designed to open onto the internal courtyard.  The courtyard’s single looped sidewalk allows patients to enjoy walks without the concern of wandering. Even the doors on the courtyard are designed to make patient’s feel at home: rather than a traditional healthcare facility entrance, each household has its own “front door.”

Patients with Alzheimer’s often also suffer from “sun downing” — behavioral problems that begin at dusk and last into the night. Abe’s Garden aims to alleviate these challenges by maximizing natural light, and incorporating state-of-the-art lighting to support circadian rhythms, reduce glare and minimize shadows. Since older adults have challenges adjusting to changes in lighting, the team incorporated transitional spaces like screened-in porches to help them adapt from outside to inside lighting.

Building on an active campus

We built Abe’s Garden on the existing campus of the Park Manor Senior Lifestyle Community, which remained operational during construction. Additionally, this project included renovating the existing facility’s main entrance and general social spaces. These two facets meant it was especially important that we regularly communicate with residents to ensure their safety and deliver the facility on schedule to minimize disruptions.  We held town halls, in which we invited residents to ask questions, share their concerns and get to know the project team. The residents were very curious about the project and were always trying to see what we were doing! Our monthly town hall gave them the opportunity to ask questions and understand upcoming activities. It’s rare that you get to build such a connection with the people your structure will serve!

Abe’s Garden represents Building What Matters on a number of levels. Not only will it provide essential and differentiated treatment to Alzheimer’s patients, but it will also serve as a model program to help advance best practices in memory care. It’s inspiring to know that our work will help the patients, families and caregivers at Abe’s Garden, while also providing a roadmap for future facilities around the U.S. and the world.

 

Jeff Elpers

Jeff Elpers

Senior project manager

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Building the future at Autodesk University: 4 technology takeaways

What happens when you go back to school? Every year we hit the “classroom” at Autodesk University. As one of the preeminent technology conferences in our industry, AU is where we get to learn about new tools of our trade, connect with a network of like-minded innovators, and explore ideas that challenge the status quo. AU also provides us a window into the applications of similar technology in other industries such as automotive, high tech and the film industry, which can spur innovative thought in construction. Skanska has been attending AU for more than ten years and each year we continue to see proof of how technology’s exponential growth is dramatically changing the way we collaborate, design, make and build. This year we were excited about four areas of research that will greatly impact our work. They include:

1.       Using smart machines for design and construction

The increased roles of machine learning — in which algorithms are used to learn from and make predictions on data — and artificial intelligence (AI) are making waves for the construction industry. With the vast amounts of data we create and are beginning to collect throughout a project’s life cycle, we will soon be in a position to use that data to inform better decision making. But getting to those decisions is an incredibly complex process, and that’s where machines are making it easier. Whereas human brains are naturally creative and great at pattern recognition, artificial intelligence can process information faster and simulate many outcomes based on an array of inputs

The result is a likely future where designers and AI-based applications can likely collaborate on designs — that future is closer than you might think. We also envision many roles for these types of tools in construction. Imagine using a model with built-in intelligence for logistics planning. As you make choices for site layout, you’d be given options from an intelligent system to make the site both safer and more efficient.

Today, machine learning is already having big impacts. It’s helping doctors analyze patient data for diagnosis and treatment, and helping banks monitor for fraud. Consider this: IBM’s Watson, a “cognitive computing” supercomputer that combines natural language processing and machine learning to glean insights from reams of data, can process 1,000 books a minute! Watson is also being used to fuel visualizations for accident analysis on jobsites, helping teams predict where accidents are most likely to occur or analyze the site factors influencing safety performance. It can also beat humans at Jeopardy:

While there is no replacing the tribal knowledge or hands-on experience of our people, artificial intelligence will help our teams by making historical knowledge more accessible and meaningful, allowing more time to apply people’s creativity and innovation to solve tomorrow’s new problems.

2.       Finding new ways to access and use data

Other industries benefit from full-scale prototyping processes to validate their designs prior to delivering the final commercial product. For obvious reasons, using similar processes in construction is very limited. However, 3-D models coupled with new virtual reality tools that make visualization more dynamic, immersive and empathetic have the potential to vastly improve design and construction processes. When we put ourselves closer to the design and planning process through virtual reality tools, we can experience the design before it’s built. This experience can help us understand the feasibility of that design sooner, and possibly simulate multiple approaches to construction before we put a shovel in the ground. As construction managers, the ability to utilize, synthesize and act on this information enables us to better partners to our design team.

BIMCITY-revised12.22.15The Skanska team visited “BIM City” at AU 2015.

It’s important to recognize that 3-D models and building information modeling (BIM) are more than just geometric representations of buildings – they are also a repository for a wealth of information. Throughout the design and construction phases of a project, we create and capture information that is extremely valuable to an owner for use in operating their building. Finding best ways to store and extract this data is a huge issue. The sheer number of discussions, classes and casual mentions at AU about extracting data from building information models (BIM) to leverage for operations was staggering, and a clear marker that the industry has recognized the need for better tools and processes to benefit owners. For the last few years, Skanska has been collaborating with some of our customers to explore the best ways for them and other owners to quickly access the information they need, and use it in a way that is most effective for apply it in a meaningful way to support their operations.

For example, we collaborated with George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to create protocols for developing building information models, so that design and construction model data can be more easily used by GW for operations and maintenance. This pioneering work resulted in GW’s Facilities Information Management Procedures Manual, a step toward much greater efficiency that few building owners have taken. With these standards set up front, GW’s designers and builders can create and maintain models that meet the university’s requirements to use them for operations and maintenance.

3. Recruiting millennial technology masters who offer fresh ideas

The AEC industry is on a precipice of change, and in order to truly forge ahead we need the ideas and energy of the next generation. A key challenge is attracting and retaining talent in an industry that has been historically slow to change and adapt new technology.

BIM enables new means of collaboration and makes information more accessible than ever before, which influences our decision making as well as our project approaches. In order to leverage new tools and information like BIM to Build What Matters, we need talented people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The rise of new technology means that our tech-savvy employees – those with aptitude and interests in computer science, gaming and similar fields – will have a unique opportunity to shape our future. This also means that we need to think creatively about the people we’re hiring – the skills and backgrounds that made a great construction manager yesterday will be vastly different by 2020. Our talent pool and recruiting strategies are going to have to change to leverage technology and information.


Go behind the scenes at AU 2015 in 90 seconds.

With the BIM adoption rate going up across our industry, both Millennials and more experienced employees need have the skills to work with models. In response to this need, the University of Washington teamed with Skanska to establish a professional certificate in BIM. This program complements a professional degree or real-world experience by providing hands-on training with BIM tools – the technical focus of our course is a clear differentiator.

But as technology gets smarter and faster, the growing worries about what AEC jobs will look like in the future is real. As Autodesk Chief Technology Officer Jeff Kowalski mentioned in his keynote discussion about the future of our work, “A robot will not take your job – someone who uses a robot better than you will take your job.” The best thing we can do is help make sure our people are prepared to take on that challenge.

4. Enabling broader means of collaboration

Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform, which gives project teams the power to access project models and data in real time, continues to get more robust. We’ve been using it for years and our research indicates it typically saves more than 15 percent of a superintendent’s time in the field. Autodesk’s most recent addition to this platform – BIM 360 Docs – has the potential to streamline a number of our processes and drive efficiency in planning, preconstruction and in the field. We will be working closely with Autodesk to pilot this platform in early 2016.

The next evolution in making information more available is wearable devices. For instance, we’re currently testing applications of DAQRI, an augmented reality helmet that projects data and models directly onto a hands-free display to provide intuitive instructions for jobsite teams: we see this helping improve project safety.

Albert Zulps testing a DAQRI prototype

Skanska’s Albert Zulps tests a DAQRI at AU 2015.

But we see much greater potential than just streamlining the flow of information to project teams: we also see information flow becoming bi-directional. An example of this highlighted at AU is the real-time location system (RTLS) produced by Redpoint Positioning. Skanska recently teamed with Redpoint to test their RTLS technology on our 101 Seaport commercial development project in Boston’s Innovation District. Together, we combined their sensor technology with our BIM models to precisely track construction materials and team members during simulations. RTLS has the potential to leverage BIM so that teams can see actual 3-D location views as they walk a jobsite.

With safety, we used RTLS to define and demarcate zones in the model that contained a simulated risk – such as a fall hazard. When a worker wearing a safety vest connected to the location system entered that zone, the vest would flash to warn of the danger, providing instant feedback and environmental awareness. Additionally, as part of lean planning we are exploring how RTLS can help us better measure and refine manpower efficiency and constantly improve our construction schedules. We’ve built this technology into our new Skanska Boston office space at 101 Seaport, turning it into a living lab environment where we can dig deeper into the potential of RTLS, and show customers how it may benefit them.

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The team at 101 Seaport tests the Redpoint System.

We’re in the midst of some sea changes in the AEC industry, as technologies are emerging to better solve important customer needs. For those companies oriented around innovation, and planning for disruption, the opportunities are immense.

If you missed AU 2015, be sure to check out all the classes, keynotes and innovation forums available online: http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/overview.

 

 

Tony Colonna

Tony Colonna

Senior vice president of innovative construction solutions

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Metrics demonstrate how BIM benefits building owners – and more

BIM is talked about so much in the world of architecture, engineering and construction, but what value does it bring to the AEC team and more importantly, to the building owner?

We now have solid metrics that demonstrate BIM’s benefits to stakeholders, thanks to the just-released SmartMarket Report entitled “Measuring the Impact of BIM on Complex Buildings,” as published by Dodge Data and Analytics and with support by Skanska. Based on interviews and surveys done with nearly 400 owners, general contractors, architects and engineers, the findings show that the use of BIM has a high impact on reducing the risks and increasing the success of such complex projects as hospitals, labs, airports and high-tech manufacturing facilities. (Click here to access the free 58-page report.)

Specific benefits from BIM cited by respondents included:

– Lower final construction costs, according to 85 percent of those surveyed,

– Accelerated completion, said 88 percent of survey participants,

– Reportable incident declines, according to 76 percent of the group, and

– Increased labor productivity, 87 percent said.

“This report underscores what many of us working in BIM and VDC have known: these technologies drive value for project owners and their stakeholders,” said Tony Colonna, Skanska USA senior vice president. “The report should be a call to action for everyone involved with delivering buildings – and we are ready to answer.”

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BIM–enabled multi-trade prefabrication – including 144 bathroom pods – saved about two months on the overall schedule for our Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children project.

We are proud to share some of our own BIM successes in the report. Most notably, how using BIM helped us successfully deliver a 450,000-square-foot expansion for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. The entire building was designed on a six-degree radius, so such BIM uses as digital layout, prefabrication and 4-D scheduling helped us ensure accurate, safe and high-quality work on a tight schedule. BIM enabled our ability to prefabricate bathroom pods, patient room headwalls and overhead utility racks, which saved about two months on the overall project schedule.

We’re also excited about a new way we’re using BIM: virtual reality. For example, on healthcare projects virtual reality models – built with technology used for video games – enables nurses to help us identify possible patient flow and safety issues.  And on projects of any type, virtual reality helps us see behind walls to identify potential hazards.

Furthermore, we are developing a virtual reality simulation that systematically guides superintendents through a series of scenarios to see if they can identify different hazards. It uses industry safety data to present scenarios that pull from real-life circumstances. This simulation is a collaboration between our Environment, Health and Safety group and Innovation team, and we hope this tool can soon be used to enhance safety training for our field personnel.

To learn more about how using BIM as part of virtual design and construction can benefit your project, please click here.

 

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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How to conceive healthcare environments in a better way – the Prognos way

Skanska’s Prognos early cost modeling app for healthcare projects – which InformationWeek magazine lauded this month as one of “20 Great Ideas to Steal in 2014” – originated out of frustration two years ago. Back then, Senior Vice President Andrew Quirk thought that designers, builders and owners began planning healthcare projects with too many preconceived ideas – about room sizes, finishes and so on – beyond what’s required by codes and standards.

By not starting from a mostly blank sheet of paper, opportunities were being missed to deliver more efficient building programs, and in turn potentially increase each client’s return on investment, thought Quirk, national director of Skanska’s Healthcare Center of Excellence.

“I was trying to get to a point where you could help clients think differently about a project, and challenge them to think outside of norms,” Quirk said.

Quirk saw the solution as a tool that would enable Skanska clients to conceive their new physical environments in a better way – and that tool is now Prognos, available for iPads through Skanska’s App Store. With Prognos, healthcare clients build only what they need at the cost they can afford, plus capitalize on revenue-generating spaces and realize energy savings when possible. Prognos (means “prognosticate” or “predict” in Swedish – Skanska’s roots) shows an owner these elements at the onset of a project.

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App in action

Using this app begins with a Skanska team working with a client to evaluate building components –  such as the number of hospital beds, number of floors, size of the emergency department – in real time. The resulting cost model can easily be modified to show different options.

Prognos’ additional features make it unlike anything else in healthcare. Once a construction cost is determined by each hospital service line, Prognos then allows the user to perform “what-if” calculations for energy usage, square foot efficiency and sustainability calculations, as well as to do an ROI analysis. The data is stored in the cloud – enabling adjustments to continue in the future – and a report can be sent directly from an iPad to the client as a reference for future conversations.
To serve clients across the United States, geographical zone information is used for energy calculations, and a city index is used to calculate construction costs, which vary by region.

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But even more important than the numbers is the process that leads to them.

“This supports having a more in-depth dialogue with the client,” Quirk said. “The idea is that by filling out the layers of this app together, both the client and Skanska start asking, ‘What if we did this – what would it do to the model?”

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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Four ways to enable innovation in construction

At Skanska, we encourage our employees to continuously innovate for the benefit of our customers and our communities, transforming the way the construction industry approaches problems and solutions. Over the past few years, our employees have come up with ideas that have changed the way we manage and deliver projects, especially in the areas of prefabrication, BIM and through the use of mobile apps.

How have we fostered such innovation? Here are four principle ideas we follow:

1. Provide tangible support

In any industry, it’s tough to break away from “the way things have always been done,” especially when it requires a time commitment outside of the normal work day. We had to come up with a better approach.

In 2010, we launched an Innovation Grant Program, with dedicated resources and staff. At its foundation, the grant program provides funding to individuals and teams to research, develop and transform their ideas into repeatable solutions that deliver value. We “put our money where our mouth is” and, to date, Skanska has invested over $1 million in the grant program to support 25 projects. We have three full-time staff members devoted to this initiative: working with employees to brainstorm ideas, conducting research and implementing successful products throughout our organization. Additionally, we have established connections with nearly 15 universities and colleges to help work on grant research, which helps ensure our developments are on the cutting edge and which provides a way for talented students to engage with our industry.

2. Connecting people

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 The inSite Monitor app, which helps us better monitor environmental conditions in sensitive environments.

Meeting face to face is key to understanding people and the challenges they face. In the first year of our grant program, we traveled to jobsites across the country, meeting people and hearing what on the job might be keeping them up at night. After hearing several of the same stories, we started to connect people who shared issues and got them to brainstorm ways to improve. When people know they aren’t the only one facing an issue, they are more likely to work together to find a solution.

Our inSite Monitor app, for example, originated from our hearing about a hospital renovation project in Tampa, Fla., at which we needed to monitor dust and noise near an active neonatal intensive care unit. We had also been in touch with an employee in North Carolina who was interested in exploring mobile app technology (still an emerging technology at the time). We connected employees at both jobsites and, together, they came up with a concept and applied for a grant.

Today, the inSite app is a turn-key system any of our jobsites can put into use. The system monitors noise, vibration, dust and differential pressure and connects to an iPhone app so anyone on the project can view the data and will know of any issues in real time – compared to the old system where readings had to be taken manually at intervals throughout the day.

3. Create repeatable solutions

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The time our teams save using this DayFacts digital daily superintendent report gives them more time to devote to critical jobsite activities.

Grant applicants must keep in mind that ideas must be applicable across multiple regions or projects. This is important as Skanska has 39 offices nationwide. We want to focus on areas of our business where adoption of new methods will be high and scalable across the country.

Before DayFacts , our digital daily superintendent report, craft workers manually wrote down their daily reports of manpower, equipment, safety and weather, and submitted them to project superintendents – this process was time consuming and hard to track and archive. With this new web-based system that mirrors the old process, teams save three or more hours a week doing their reporting. Currently, the system has been used by over 250 jobsites across the country.

4. Recognize people

Our employees feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they see their ideas through to implementation, as they know they are positively affecting how Skanska – and their colleagues – operate. We make sure to recognize our employees for their extra time and work. Throughout the grant process, we showcase the names and a faces of applicants on any internal publicity. Additionally, at our annual National Management Meeting, we give out an Innovation Award to someone who has gone above and beyond in their work supporting innovation.

These four principles have enabled Skanska to be at the forefront of such initiatives as BIM, prefabrication and jobsite efficiency, helping us lead the way in innovation.

 

Tony Colonna

Tony Colonna

Senior vice president of innovative construction solutions

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