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VDC Integration & Improving the Client Experience

As construction demand continues to grow, companies must learn and be willing to adopt new technologies. Advances in construction technology have changed the way almost everything is done. One of the most noticeable areas of change is with the use of Virtual Design and Construction tools.

As an ever evolving, adapting, and growing company, Russell has embraced on the use of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) processes to drive additional value for clients. By utilizing the latest VDC technologies, Russell is compressing schedules, reducing costs, and increasing quality on jobsites across the country. This technology allows us to deliver a positive client experience, certainty about project outcomes, and achieve our number one goal – delighting clients.

VDC vs. BIM  

First, we need to understand the key differences between VDC and BIM and how technological processes are changing the game!

Virtual Design and Construction is the management of construction projects through implementation of technology-based tools and processes. VDC  advances the use of architects, contractors, and subcontractors Building Information Models to estimate, coordinate, plan and build a project in a virtual space. Ultimately, VDC creates a complete visual foundation allowing owners and key stakeholders to look at key building areas and scenarios before a project is built.

A term frequently used in conjunction with VDC is Building Information Modeling (BIM), which are 3D digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility, used in conjunction with standard preconstruction and construction services.

The Benefits of VDC

One of the major benefits of using VDC technology on projects is providing builders, partners, and other team members a clear digital roadmap of the project and the best way to proceed forward with budgeting, scheduling, logistics, and safety.

During preconstruction, VDC teams utilize technology to find ways to reduce a project’s schedule by recognizing gaps in sequence and schedule, identifying constructability issues, and adjusting material types or layouts for real-time cost analysis.   Then, during construction, VDC helps maintain open communication channels between team members by conveying delivery statuses, construction progress, potential unforeseen issues, safety concerns, and quality checks.

Bottom Line – VDC brings together construction services and 3D models to provide opportunities to eliminate surprises before they ever hit the field.


Overcoming a Major Challenge  

With the rise of more available technology and popularity in VDC services, many design and construction teams today are facing major challenges in properly utilizing modeling software.  This includes an inability for the 3D models to be used on mobile devices, largely due to the model’s complexity, processing requirements, and required file formats. Most 3D models exist on desktop computers, located in a company’s brick and mortar office or jobsite trailer, which does not allow for ease of use for teams literally walking jobsites.  As a result, the team members out in the field must rely on potentially outdated paper, 2D copies of plans or only viewing the 3D models in the office or jobsite trailer.

Not being satisfied with mobility limitations that existed with our VDC / BIM technology, Russell began looking into ways to overcome this hurdle and ensure our teams are working at peak efficiency. Luckily, we did not have to go far to find our solution!

Procore – Modeling Integration Tool
Procore, a cloud-based construction software is used by Russell to manage all projects, allowing our team to bridge the gap between the jobsite and all project team members. Procore provides real-time access to all project documents, which keeps all parties on track, up-to-date, and the flow of documentation running smoothly, thus reducing potential miscommunication delays.

Launched by Procore in late 2019, Russell is excited to have officially rolled out our use of the Procore Modeling Integration Tool on all projects utilizing virtual models.  This user-friendly tool allows all project team members to navigate a project’s full virtual model directly in their hands on any mobile device that can run a web browser or download the app. This tool takes the full working 3D models out of the office and puts it in the hands of the people installing and verifying the work directly in the field.  No more being limited by outdated 2D “hard copy” paper plans, or the program or file processing requirements needed to run data-heavy models!

To put it simply – this integration tool allows our project teams, including the owner, designer, contractor, and subcontractors to coordinate more effectively, and make better informed decisions, out in the field.

Once all major system coordination models are imported and published from the design or subcontractor teams, everyone with access to the project in Procore, including the owner, can view it at anytime and anywhere. Teams can easily, and quickly, verify that the work being installed in the field is going according to plan as they compare it to their 3D design models, which reflects months of coordination work. Information is being pulled directly from Procore as soon as the latest models are updated, so on-site installations are always being compared to the most up-to-date versions.  If an issue on-site is discovered, our teams can, in real-time:

  • Create and track a coordination issue linked to a view of the current coordination model, including adding photos, and assign them to the correct parties for immediate resolution.
  • Link coordination issues, Requests for Information (RFIs) and field observations directly to drawing documentation and 3D models viewable in any web browser or IOS mobile device
  • Share side-by-side comparisons to generate a RFI or provide information to stakeholders when there is a discrepancy.
  • Click on an object in the virtual model and see its properties (i.e., size of pipe, unit name, ductwork size, etc.).
  • Take measurements between building elements as designed and compare to as built conditions.

Delivering Real Value

The Procore Integration Model Tool finally puts 3D models in the hands of our Russell field team and subcontractors. When 3D models are in the hands of the people installing, verifying, and tracking the work, the value derived from Virtual Design and Construction to mitigate risk, reduce waste, and increase productivity is achievable.

“It just didn’t make sense to spend the extensive time and resources required to model a project in a 3D space, and not be able to view it out in the field where we need it most,” stated Chris Krieg, Chief Construction Officer at Russell.  “It’s not uncommon to encounter issues when viewing the 2D drawings, or during a coordination meeting, and being able to view and address them in real-time, in the field, is a game-changer.”

To truly understand the impact of the Procore Integration Model tool in action, we don’t have to look any farther than the North Scott YMCA in Eldridge, Iowa.

When the North Scott Community School District had to rent space at an aging YMCA to accommodate the practice and meet schedule of their swim team, a solution needed to be found. Through a partnership with the North Scott County YMCA, City of Eldridge, and the North Scott Community School District a new 43,500 square foot fitness center was born to serve as the home for the swim team, while also providing an amenity for the local community.  The new state-of-the-art two-story facility includes:

  • Fitness center with lobby
  • Gym
  • Natatorium including a competition pool, family recreation pool, and children’s pool
  • Upper-level track, surrounding a weight room and gym below
  • Dance / yoga studio on the upper level, including a view of the recreation pool
VDC Rendering – North Scott Community YMCA

Prior to the first dirt moving in March 2021, months of extensive system coordination work between Russell’s VDC team, Legat Architects, the owner, and numerous subcontractors, including electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and fire protection, resulted in a full 3D virtual model of the facility. The entire building, and its systems, were built in a 3D space and the team was literally able to walk into any area of the site and look around to see what would be constructed in that exact space and make real-time, informed decisions.

“It is not possible for 2D construction drawings to show all the building features and systems represented in one plan – it would be huge and unreadable,” stated Senior Project Manager, Brian Hedgren. “A paper floor plan only shows so much, but the 3D model showed us everything being installed in that room – from the flooring finishes, overhead ductwork, electrical wiring hidden in the walls, and placement of outlets and light switches. We could literally peel away items that we didn’t want to see on the model and focus on the systems we needed to make real-time decisions in the field.”

The 3D model helped to solve many complex challenges on this project that could have resulted in expensive schedule delays. 

For example, during the preconstruction phase, the VDC team carefully coordinated every penetration that would be required for service pathways, for ductwork, piping, etc., through the over 90, 45-foot-tall exterior precast structural panels. This coordination effort was crucial as all penetrations needed to be accounted for before the precast panel was cast, as changes after would result in major impacts to the structural design and reinforcement located within the panel.

Additionally, penetration changes can be costly. Needing to modify or cut a single new penetration would result in additional structural design time, labor time to sawcut, and worst case – having to repour one (or more) of the 45-foot-tall precast panels – which could take up to eight weeks. Through Russell’s extensive coordination process, we were able to provide the precast panel subcontractor with all required penetration information before the over 90 panels were poured. This challenge was mitigated before it could impact the schedule and ensured a successful project outcome.

“This use of the [Procore] modeling tool on the North Scott project had a sizeable impact. I have been working in the industry for over 20 years, and to see how far we have come with technology and the things we can do now, is just amazing,” stated Brian Hedgren.

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VDC Layout of Building

Building Blocks for Success

Technology in construction is revolutionizing almost every aspect of the business.  Companies that are hesitant to adopt new technologies driving construction forward, like VDC, Reality Capture, and BIM, are putting their owners and projects at a disadvantage

Are you ready to learn how Russell can help your project achieve its full potential, by utilizing state-of-the-art Virtual Design and construction technologies?
Contact us today to learn more!