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Increasing Access to BIM: Mechanical Contractor Sees Significant Time Savings By Sharing Models With the Field

If your organization utilizes BIM, you understand the amount of investment involved in creating a detailed, coordinated model. Unfortunately, the effort doesn’t stop there. Ensuring your organization maximizes the value of BIM takes a similar, if not greater, amount of effort, but the returns can be exponential. 

Read on to see how HC Blake, ​​a plumbing and HVAC contractor in Huntsville, Alabama, recognized their need to get more from BIM, the steps they took and the returns they achieved - some expected, some that came as a surprise. 

A story as old as BIM, the model was stuck in Revit

After delivering the coordinated model, Mark Campo, Director of VDC for HC Blake, spent significant time ensuring the field team had the information they needed. Since the model wasn’t accessible outside of Revit, field leaders relied on him for providing dimensions, sometimes up to 10 times a day. Each time Mark received a call for a dimension, he would need to open the model, find the area in question and provide the dimensional data. Day after day, this would take time away from more valuable tasks like preparing for the next project. 

HC Blake wasn’t willing to let this inefficiency persist. As a team, they are continually looking for new ways to improve their business and the value they bring to their customers. On top of the demands of their roles, Mark in addition to Bryant Fair (Construction Operations Manager), and Luke Batson (Head of Estimating) started looking for a solution, and to their surprise they already had it. 


Finding the right tools to create and share the detailed model

A couple years prior, HC Blake had sought out a solution to streamline their detailing process. They arrived at the VDC Pro+, a design and detailing subscription that includes Trimble SysQue detailing software for Revit, manufacturer-specific BIM content and additional tools to power VDC workflows. 

Mark shared, “We started looking at different software offerings and came across Trimble SysQue. With SysQue having its own library of MEP components, we would no longer have to import that information from all the different manufacturers. So that was a no brainer for us.”

Their VDC team benefitted from the time savings that came along with SysQue and Trimble managed content, but it didn’t stop there. They soon discovered another opportunity to save even more time with Trimble Connect–a mobile-friendly model viewer and collaboration tool that is also included in the VDC Pro+ subscription. With the VDC team already equipped with the tools they needed to create, manage and share the model, all HC Blake needed to do was provide their field teams with Trimble Connect and an iPad to access the model.

Now Mark and his team take advantage of a direct integration between SysQue and Trimble Connect. With the push of a button, they sync the detailed model from SysQue to Trimble Connect to ensure the field always has the most up-to-date version of the model. All without having to share and reshare the Revit file–and less time consuming phone calls.

“I prefer not to send out the whole Revit file because I don’t want them to change anything,” Mark notes. “Plus, a Revit file is so large, that would be another 30 minutes taken out of my day just to get it prepared and emailed. Trimble Connect is so quick, I don’t have to send the Revit file into the field and worry that they’re going to change something.”

With this fully integrated workflow between Trimble Connect, SysQue, and manufacturer-specific MEP content, HC Blake’s field leaders have access to constructible models from the jobsite down to the smallest detail.

Enabling time-saving collaboration from office to jobsite

With the model now at the fingertips of their superintendents, the time savings have been significant. Mark said, “Between handling phone calls, printing out the drawing, and having it driven out to the site, we’re easily saving one or two hours for each dimension request by using Trimble Connect. Our field teams now have a lot more independence to view the dimensions they need whenever they need to.”

Trimble Connect is also helping HC Blake build more accurately and avoid costly mistakes. For example, the company recently completed a project for an amphitheater, which presented unique challenges as a radial structure. Due to its curved design, the standard way of dimensioning would not work. However, Trimble Connect includes capabilities to produce accurate dimensions even for non-square, non-perpendicular buildings.

Luke Batson shared, “The building didn’t even have a constant radius; it was more like an oval, but we were able to dimension it without a problem.”

HC Blake was satisfied with their results. The VDC team now saves 1-2 hours a day on dimensioning requests and the field doesn’t have to wait for the information they need. But the more time they spent with Trimble Connect, they came across more value. 

Using the Status Sharing feature in Trimble Connect, field leaders are able to update the status of items as they are installed, so teams in the office have visibility to the work being completed without having to walk the jobsite every day. This level of visibility assists with billing of work, but also is invaluable for Luke as he bids future projects. 

“Using Status Sharing, we’re able to better understand how long certain tasks take in the field, which allows for more accurate project bidding and planning in the future.” Luke adds, “That helps give HC Blake a little more advantage in competitive situations.”