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Creating a state of the art science facility is a large project. Providing the HVAC, plumbing waste and vent, as well as the plumbing services is a large challenge to tackle especially with a 268,000 square foot building. Luckily for ShoffnerKalthoff Mechanical Electrical Service they had Autodesk® Revit® MEP and Trimble® SysQue® to design, prefabricate, and construct this lab.

By utilizing the SysQue pipe and duct features, the virtual construction department was able to complete the models and spool for fabrication. Prefabrication was a necessity for this job as there wasn’t space on the jobsite for the storage of materials. Being able to produce the exact content from the LOD400 models was essential in completing this project.  

The project 

Located on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, Tennessee the Strong Hall Science Laboratory was built to further expand the science needs for the students at the university. This $114 million project was one of the largest on the UT campus. ShoffnerKalthoff’s contract was secured at $17.4 million for which they would provide the HVAC and plumbing services to the 8 story building. The total project build was set for 18 months, 9 months of which was dedicated to ShoffnerKalthoff’s portion of the project.  
 
Chris Overholt, the Design Manager at ShoffnerKalthoff, knew that in order to complete this project on time while seeing a high ROI for their company, he must use a software tool that precise and detailed for planning.  
 
“As a science laboratory, there were a lot of mechanical systems within the design. Making sure everything fit spatially was a challenge” Overholt said.  
 
Larger projects like the Strong Hall science lab are typical for the ShoffnerKalthoff team but the largest challenge in this project was the lack of storage space on the jobsite. This challenge meant that everything had to be built to exact measurements in prefabrication so that it could be installed immediately upon arrive.  
 
“When a project site doesn’t have any space for material storage, utilizing prefab, and delivering as needed is a great process to deploy” Overholt explained. “Being able to prefabricate this project in our shop was crucial. With SysQue we were able to model and then spool the piping and plumbing for this project.”  
 

The solution 

Overholt was the one who discovered and recommended the SysQue software to upper management. Before SysQue, ShoffnerKalthoff provided CAD based BIM. Their main platform was AutoCAD MEP with PipeDesigner 3D and DuctDesigner 3D.  
 
There were a lot of factors involved with the motivation to switch to a new platform. “We wanted to be Revit based for efficiency and streamlining the workflow with use of the Revit produced design models” Overholt said. “Workflow efficiencies, using the Revit/SysQue schedules for BOMs, and modeling a whole project in one file were the biggest problems that were resolved when we switched platforms.”  
 
For the Strong Hall lab project ShoffnerKalthoff was able to reduce the field man hours by utilizing prefabrication. Getting the spools pushed through and loading up the shop with work helped to increase productivity. Overholt said “Streamlining the BIM and pre-fabrication workflow was our original goal by using the Revit platform. SysQue allows us to use Revit for this purpose.”  
 
Before the implementation of SysQue, ShoffnerKalthoff faced efficiency issues within their projects. They were limited with the BOM’s the CAD add-ins would produce—they can now customize their BOM’s. Being able to create a whole model in one platform is new to the virtual construction team at ShoffnerKalthoff. “Before SysQue we had to product models sectioned by areas and levels because of the file size. Now working in the same platform as the designers with the ability to file link has really improve the design to construction workflow” Overholt mentioned.  
 
As an early user of the SysQue product, Overholt has seen the software grow and transform quickly. The fast turnaround time to customer requests, the support team’s responsiveness, and the implementation of new features are just a few of the reasons why Overholt has continued to evangelize the SysQue product. Overholt’s advice to other organizations is “If you have the chance to move from a CAD based solution to the Revit/SysQue products, please don’t hesitate. If you aren’t familiar with Revit then put a program in place for your users’ to learn it at a steady pace. Let them learn it and the productivity, efficiency, and streamlined process will become obvious.”  
 
With the right tools the ShoffnerKalthoff team was able to deliver successfully on the Strong Hall Science Lab at the University of Tennessee. This state of the art science lab is now equipped with the intricately planned HVAC and plumbing systems implemented by the hometown Knoxville construction company. Just as ShoffnerKalthoff experimented and succeeded with SysQue now the students have the opportunity to experiment for many years to come.