Revit Collaboration Across ContinentsAECbytes Sponsored Article (June 6, 2017)

by Calvin Hennick

Throughout the world we’re seeing a trend toward the adoption of BIM—Building Information Modeling—across the architecture, engineering and construction [AEC] industries,  as more companies respond to growing requirements for BIM.  Also driving BIM adoption is the realization that a BIM workflow offers benefits in better project team collaboration.  As a result, AEC firms are investing in technology to share models more efficiently. To date in the world of BIM, the focus has been primarily on the ‘M’ – or modeling part of BIM.  But now we are rapidly shifting to the ‘I’ which is information – that is enabling project teams to work in ways never before possible.

With Autodesk Collaboration for Revit, Beca – one of Asia Pacific’s leading professional consultancies connected workers across six time zones, adding hours to its workday.

A Tight Timeline

Taking on a job using Autodesk Revit software to design an $80 million food factory expansion in Sydney, Australia Beca knew that the architectural and engineering work represented at least a 12-week job.  But Beca only had eight weeks to complete the work.

“We had a very tight timeline to get design documentation out,” recalls Craig Lamont, Business Director in Beca’s buildings business. “And the only way we were going to be able to do that time-effectively was to use our external offices.”

The firm has around 3,200 employees in 20 offices across the Asia-Pacific region, and also collaborates with documentation firms in Indonesia and the Philippines. Beca has experience in implementing many different collaboration solutions all with various capabilities however they weren’t appropriate for this particular project.

“We needed something that would stretch our workday to fifteen hours and help us meet our design timeline.” Lamont says “So we sat down and explored what could do to take advantage of the time zone span between New Zealand and Indonesia?”

Breaking Down Barriers

To loop in offices across six time zones, Beca subscribed to Collaboration for Revit for each of the 33 people working on the project. The cloud-based service provides centralized access to Revit models, and allows project team members from multiple sites to co-author Revit models and communicate via in-product chat regardless of each person’s physical location.

On previous projects, workers in one office would upload a model at the end of the day, handing it off to team members who would download it in another location. Collaboration for Revit enables a smoother handover by allowing both offices to be in the model at the same time. The teams can then communicate while looking at the same information, reducing risk of misunderstanding and error.

“We didn’t have any of those issues with Collaboration for Revit, because we were able to work together with external offices,” says Lamont. “The team would start work in New Zealand in the morning, we’d get Australia going two hours later, and then we could bring our Indonesia and Manila resources on board before we went home at the end of the day. They knew exactly what we wanted them to work on and what the design deliverables were for the day.”

“It saved massive amounts of time and effort,” says Brett Naylor, Group Digital Delivery Manager for Beca. “We no longer needed to upload and download the model, and our people in overlapping time zones could work on the project simultaneously.”

Workers on the project spoke three different primary languages, and Lamont says that Collaboration for Revit helped to minimize confusion. “We could click and point and talk about exactly what we wanted drafted and where,” he says. “Being able to have everyone see the same thing in Revit at the same time helped overcome the language barrier.”

Each week, the team published the latest version of the model to BIM 360 Team, allowing them to share the design work with stakeholders who were not active in the Revit models.

Engagement and Accountability

Prior to deploying Collaboration for Revit, Beca would dedicate budget to fly employees to offices in Manila and Jakarta to formally train workers there. “Now, with  Collaboration for Revit and the Communicator tool, people can connect virtually, inside the model, and there’s training happening on-the-job, almost as if people are sitting next to the person in Sydney or Melbourne.”

Reducing Rework

“There was nowhere near the amount of rework we would normally experience on a project of this size, especially at the speed that the job had to be completed,” says Clive Lumsden, job lead draftsman at Beca. “I could see exactly what remote workers were doing, and I was able to pick up issues before they became a problem, rather than waiting three days to get the model back. It just makes your life so much easier, and we saved money on the rework, too.”  

Overcoming Obstacles

“The challenge we have with a lot of other collaboration platforms is, they have to be within the Beca firewall,” Naylor says. “We can get around that, but at a high cost and timely setup. What we really liked about C4R was the ability to incorporate people outside our firewall environment, without adding a lot of setup time or changing our IT configuration. This allowed us to operate in a high trust environment and thereby further cement the relationship with our contracted partners.”

‘Immeasurable’ Benefits

Lamont is clear about the impact that C4R has had on Beca’s work, particularly on the initial food processing facility design. “If we didn’t have C4R, we would not have made the design timeline,” he says. Only because of the 15-hour workday enabled by C4R, Lamont says, was Beca able to complete a three-month project in only eight weeks. 

“The benefits are almost immeasurable,” Lamont says. “It worked out that the cost of deployment was only a few hundred dollars for the duration of the job, and we achieved a return-on-investment very quickly through the reductions in rework alone.”


Click here to learn more about Autodesk Collaboration for Revit.

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