The Vision Awards honor companies that have realized the advantages of applying modern technologies to their everyday businesses. In addition to honoring builders and contractors, Constructech magazine also recognizes the hardware and software suppliers that have enabled the construction company to achieve its goals.
Apex Cost Consultants
Finding an estimate on a project exceeded the government's budget by 30%, Apex employed 3D "macro BIM" (building information modeling) and cost modeling software. By engaging every stakeholder from architect and client to the MEP designer and cost estimators, Apex was able to communicate the cost of the project in realtime so the team had the necessary information to bring the project back into conformance with the budget. Having an accurate cost estimate developed at the conceptual stage enabled Apex to come up with an accuracy of roughly 5% versus the final contractor bid submission.
Technology Enablers: Autodesk; Beck Technology
As Homecad's 2D AutoCAD-based product aged and the use of BIM began to surface, it saw a challenge and sought out a suitable BIM package that was flexible, consistent, and able to grow with the demands of builders. By combining new solutions, designs became better and construction documents became more accurate. It is now able to get drawings into the field faster, has better accuracy, and has established more efficient management of resources.
Technology Enablers: Ameri-CAD; Autodesk
J.M. Coull Inc.
The challenge that J.M. Coull had was in the preconstruction phase. The solution J.M. Coull found is a Web-based program where users can download project documents and information. But this solution is more than just an online "plan room." The program offered J.M. Coull a customizable, Internet-based solution to manage document flow throughout the bidding process. In 2007, J.M. Coull spent $12,000 to get bid information out, but in 2008, with eBid in place, the company spent just $850 for the same capability.
Technology Enablers: eBid Systems
IMTC-MEI had disparate systems for cost control, procurement, document management, and many other functions, which created problems in delivering timely and accurate status reports to clients. A hosted project-management system allows IMTC-MEI to gather data from a centralized Web-based hub, giving users access to all applications in one location. The system provides the reporting and security needed to rebuild facilities caused by natural catastrophes.
Technology Enablers: Meridian Systems; Project 3 Technologies; The Cram Group
The big challenge that faced AGI is one that most construction companies are familiar with: communications between the field, operations, and departments such as accounting. The answer to this was an integrated construction software package that combines job costing, general ledger, account payable and receivable, payroll, human resources, project management, document imaging, and project workflow, allowing single data entry and giving each department the assurance it is on the same page as all the others.
Technology Enablers: Computer Guidance; Sprint
With projects often in remote locations there was a great need for separate network and telephone equipment for each job. Forrester partnered with two companies; one designed and deployed a managed VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) system with all equipment located in a secure data center. A site survey process has been built into the early stages of the construction process to eliminate any connectivity or cabling problems during installation. Since switching to the new systems and processes, Forrester has reduced total telecom expenses by 30%.
Technology Enablers: Allied Telecom; iCore
M.J. Harris Inc.
M. J. Harris decided to build a custom sales tracking system. Work was being done to develop a centralized project database for a bid solicitation system for the estimating department. After reviewing the workflow from sales to estimating, it was determined these systems should be merged into what has since become known as the M.J. Harris Corporate Resource Manager (MJHICRM) system. Custom reports allow all information to be available at the team member's fingertips, an advantage when trying to determine where resources are needed to meet sales goals.
S.M. Wilson & Co.
Virtualization allows S.M. Wilson to turn software into hardware by transforming the hardware resources of an Intel-based computer—including CPU, RAM, hard drives, and network controllers—into a fully functional virtual machine that can run its own operating system and applications like a "real" computer. By using virtualization, S.M. Wilson could develop a computing environment that was less susceptible to hardware failures, create a recoverable environment in case of an emergency, and reduce long-term IT (information technology) costs.
Technology Enabler: CMiC
Kajima Building & Design Group
Management wanted to solve three concerns: document standardization, financial control through increased data visibility, and a single database to streamline document management.
Technology Enabler: RedVector.com
McCarthy Building Companies Inc.
McCarthy incorporated an online construction management tool that uses color-coded "rooms" online and computerized construction maps to establish the quality control protocols necessary to manage the hospital inspection process. Using the online technology, McCarthy brought the project to certificate of occupancy 106 days ahead of schedule and more than $40 million under budget.
Technology Enablers: FreightTrain; Motion Computing
Messer Construction Co.
Messer found itself with more than 600 computer users in eight regions across its four state operating areas. To fulfill the needs of these employees, Messer needed at least 30 high-capacity servers but lacked the physical space and environmental requirements for such a "server farm." To address these issues, Messer turned to virtualization; a method that allowed it to reduce the hardware requirements for its offices by a ratio of 10 to 1, allowing three servers to do the work of 30. This allows Messer to run the equivalent of 30 servers on three physical servers, reducing the hardware and operating costs and positively impacting the energy costs of running the IT functions. As much as 70% of the time required to provision the servers was also eliminated and hardware utilization increased from 15% to nearly 70%.
DPR Construction Inc.
On one particular project, DPR used visual estimating to map the BIM objects with their respective cost assemblies in estimating. Generating estimates from the BIM model at shorter intervals helped rapidly bring all team members up to speed on the status of the design and output from the model. The time and labor traditionally expended doing manual takeoffs and estimates from a set of drawings was reduced from one month to one week and less paper was used since it was no longer necessary to print full sized drawings for manual takeoffs. The process also allowed for quick decision making based on realtime data so the owner and project team could see the cost information on changes and could evaluate which options were most cost effective.
Technology Enablers: Autodesk; Innovaya; Sage
Messer Construction Co.
Messer virtualized all its applications to allow the IT department to manage and control those applications from the in-house server as well as to monitor and maintain smooth operations across all the various offices and jobsites. Messer's employees can access their data at any time, from any computer, in any location. This eliminates the need for a service technician for a savings of $10,000-20,000 per region. The hardware investment was also important as Messer saved an estimated $135,714 by using 500 think clients over a similar number of laptop computers.
DPR Construction Inc.
The challenge for DPR's Concrete Division was to rapidly generate formwork layout options adapted to the site and building structure constraints. DPR implemented technology to create adaptive formwork templates. DPR made custom templates in the system that, once applied on a wall, determined the shape and size of the wall and generated a formwork layout automatically. Automating processes saved DPR field crews significant time by eliminating the need to manually layout formwork for every wall in the building.
Technology Enabler: Tekla
To get a better handle on their leads and how to follow them up, Provident implemented tech that allows it to manage customers from the first time they fill an online form through all the inevitable change orders and on to the move-in phase. Change orders are now handled more efficiently and the entire sales process has been made smoother. Having the data in a centralized database accessed through a Web-based application provides them with limitless access to critical information. Provident has reduced its contract errors to near zero. It has seen a 25-30% reduction in clerical errors, and that can make a big difference. There has also been a reduction in field errors now that the change order system is automated.
Technology Enabler: Builder1440
Fairmont Pacific Rim/299 Burrard Development
An integrated software approach helps it to efficiently manage the scope, schedule, cost, and changes for accurate accountability and timely reporting. The integrated system helps manage policies, processes, and procedures so Fairmont can complete the project on time and on budget.
Technology Enablers: Constructive Solutions; Event 1 Software; Meridian Systems; Multi Vista; Oracle; Sage
Heartland Homes Inc.
The company found offering so many home options was difficult when the changes were being made by email or fax, tracked manually, and often priced without a clear understanding of real world costs. A way to control this burgeoning option list was needed. This prompted the implementation of a sales office/design center application. Since implementation, Heartland Homes market share for homes in the Pittsburgh area has increased from 8% to 14%. The system has been used to track more than 6,500 individual custom options with more than 60% of the requested options selected for purchase; a single home incorporated 80 custom options.
Technology Enabler: MARK SYSTEMS
Clark Builders Group
In seeking a secure and easy to use network, CBG decided on a SSL/VPN (secure socket layer/virtual private network). This software creates a VPN over the Internet between company headquarters and individual employees. The equipment is housed at the company's main office and provides a virtual way to transfer company traffic over an encrypted network. The result is a secure network with access from anywhere an employee can get on the Internet. The equipment is also an enterprise class firewall that incorporates additional security for users accessing the VPN from non-company computers.
St. Joseph Health System
Technology provides a detailed model used in the construction trailer for stakeholder meetings intended to determine constructability and solve RFI (request for information) issues. By identifying the problem before the manufacturing and installation of the skins started, the team saved more than $1.8 million in costs and time for an investment of $80 in the modeling expertise.
Technology Enabler: Vico Software
An integrated collaboration system has generated multiple results for BJC Healthcare. Standard policies and procedures, aggregate and project performance metrics are all reinforced across the project management function. A historical cost collection system to support project initiation and planning was created and workflow and data transfer were automated. Prior to using such as system, invoice processing was done manually and would take upwards of seven days; this process has been reduced to two days. Writing change orders to the contract has been cut from two hours to five minutes. All in all, the technology has helped BJC achieve an equal partnership with construction managers, architects, engineers, and trade subcontractors in managing new integrated project delivery.
Technology Enablers: CMiC; Oracle
Prime Retail faced the challenge of managing its far flung properties and the special information that is part of such a portfolio. A system that could leverage the accurate and detailed special information in the property drawings and share that data with employees in tenant coordination, leasing, legal, and finance was selected. Now, more accurate data on the space is reported and the company can recapture the additional rentable space. At an average of $30-sq.ft., Prime Retail estimates this alone will save millions of dollars from better space management and insurance costs.
Technology Enabler: Autodesk
T.J. Lambrecht Construction
As the cost of fuel goes up, reducing fuel consumption can lead to a competitive advantage. This was one of the reasons T.J. Lambrecht Construction implemented an automated system. This system provides reports showing engine idle time when there is no vehicle movement so dispatchers can adjust equipment operation to optimize fuel usage. Theft control is also an important feature since construction equipment is very expensive and loss can impact job costing even more. With the new alerts, losses should be minimized.
Technology Enabler: Topcon Positioning Systems
McGuire and Hester
As McGuire and Hester expanded its portfolio of self-performed tasks to include landscaping and irrigation, its need for better bidding capabilities became apparent, which prompted a move to digital takeoff technology. The company is now able to present clients with a clear, quantifiable description of the scope of its work on the project. Since estimators can view plans in a variety of formats on their own computers, they have eliminated massive amounts of paper and as a result of the implementation. McGuire and Hester experienced an increase of as much as 35% in takeoff productivity of estimators.
Technology Enabler: On Center Software
Stanley Elevator decided to upgrade its job cost and service management technology. This allows Stanley Elevator to manage all aspects of the business, including accounting, service, new construction, parts inventory, and dispatching from an integrated system. The company saves more than 100 hours annually in reduced labor associated with collecting and filing documents. The change has also quadrupled the number of system users: more than 30 employees have access to the data where only seven were using the terminal-based systems.
Technology Enabler: WennSoft
For FrameMax, the need to fast track projects to get quicker occupancy and improve cash flow means precise sequencing of events to ensure that delays are minimized. To help, the company turned to technology that enables workers to easily report project activity directly from the field using nothing but their mobile phone. Superintendents simply speak their notes into their mobile phone and the tech converts that to text and then makes the report available through email or a Web-based interface. The system has become such a part of FrameMax's operations that employees can't recall not having it.
Technology Enabler: NoteVault
INTREN has turned 65 trucks into mobile offices using the mobile field reporting software so that field supervisors can do all their administrative work without having to come into the office. This, along with other benefits, has freed up office employees and field foremen from having to perform tedious paperwork and data entry to support the company's billing and payroll processes. Overall, INTREN has grown 50% in two years without needing to add payroll staff; it has one payroll person to manage a 450-person operation.
Technology Enablers: Penta Technologies; Sprint
PC Haines Inc.
PC Haines turned to digital takeoff and estimating technology. Before implementing the systems, PC Haines experienced a 6-7% bottomline; that number has increased to an average of 14-15%. The company has also seen the average estimating time shrink from five-60 hours per job to 24-25 hours. Paul Haines was formerly the sole estimator in the company but the addition of the technology has allowed him to add another in-house estimator, freeing up his time for other management responsibilities.
Technology Enabler: On Center Software
Technology Enabler: Avlet
Tocci Building Corp.
Challenged with building a high-scale facility using the methods of IPD, the team used BIM to generate construction documents and communicate the design intent to the trades and fabricators, as well as to implement the design by exporting the data directly to the contractors, accelerating the approvals.
Technology Enabler: Autodesk