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Forging Ahead: McCarthy reduces workflow by almost 24 hours a week with BIM 360 benefits

McCarthy Building Companies is a leader in construction innovation across the United States. In its Northern Pacific Region, teams operate out of three local offices: San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. McCarthy was selected to work on the design-build project for the new Science and Engineering building at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.
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McCarthy’s goal is to always provide an exceptional client experience and improve collaboration between all parties starting in early design. The North Pacific region teams continually look for new ways to meet this goal and plan for operational excellence for all participants. The San Jose State project presented a perfect opportunity to achieve this. The state-of-the-art lab and science building is located on a site with many constraints, requiring careful planning and exceptional communication. By adopting Autodesk® BIM 360® solutions, McCarthy improved communication from design to build, and discovered a new way of working that will benefit countless projects in the future.

The Problem

The new Science and Engineering building at San Jose State University will be an interdisciplinary space for biology, chemistry, and many other disciplines. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the lab would be designed with the latest equipment and facilities in mind, keeping pace with the area. Taking on this project from design to build, McCarthy Building Companies recognized that improving coordination would be the key to successful project delivery—especially since the teams would be working in the virtual design space.

McCarthy already had a preconstruction team familiar with Virtual Design and Construction, and leadership who could support a visual design development approach. They also had a team that was going to get involved with 3D constructability. What was missing was a way to effectively tie all these people together around common strategies for refining the design.

Linking these components in an efficient way was a goal McCarthy had for some time, and the San Jose project was the perfect opportunity to make it happen. Because of site constraints, what could have easily been an 11-story lab building was condensed to eight stories, 144 feet tall, 154,965 gross square feet, and included 140 lab fume hoods to coordinate. With so many lab components necessary for success, the building became “like a Swiss Army knife.” For instance, the space above the ceiling was only three feet high in some areas. A 30-inch-wide duct needed to fit into that space, along with gas lines, pipe, and cable tray. Careful planning would be essential to ensure the space was used wisely.

The Solution

As a firm committed to innovation, McCarthy didn’t shy away from tackling the project head-on. With Autodesk supporting the team throughout the process, McCarthy could fully explore the capabilities of the Autodesk® BIM 360® suite, particularly Autodesk® BIM 360® Glue, Autodesk® BIM 360® Design, and BIM 360 Design’s multiple modules. These solutions helped McCarthy improve in the areas of document management, project management, design, collaboration, and model coordination.

Embracing the approach of exploration through a solid partnership, McCarthy found a lot of unexpected benefits by adopting these Autodesk solutions. Previously in the coordination process, different iterations of 2D model drawings could get lost in translation and cause confusion between designers, sub-contractors, and other key players. Now with BIM 360 solutions, the team can easily overlay the different versions of the model—and quickly resolve any potential miscommunications. Using these solutions, the team can also quickly convert a 2D drawing into a 3D, digital model—creating another means of improving communication. 3D models can often reveal design discrepancies or make complex design elements easy to understand and translate to the build phase. Having the ability to shift 2D models to 3D with one click was invaluable for saving time and improving communication on a design-build project.

Quotation mark

"One thing that is surprising to me is how universally flexible this platform is—you don't have to use it in any one way…I was able to use the [iPhone] app to teach a new user on the desktop solution while I was on the train."

- Randall Natsch, VDC Director, Northern Pacific Region, McCarthy

The Results

By embracing the possibilities of the new technology, McCarthy added 63 new members to the software during the design development phase of the project. For two months, Autodesk conducted one training session per week, bringing new users up to speed and helping them gain a fundamental sense of how to move forward. In total, the BIM 360 training was completed in only eight days .

Digital models on the BIM 360 platform make file sharing simple. Hundreds of Revit model files are shared weekly between team members as updates are made, keeping the lines of communication open and improving overall team collaboration. The ability to share files instantly also saves a significant amount of time. Previously, waiting to have a model looked over by another team member could take an average of two to three days. Now with instantaneous sharing, this check process takes an average of 30 minutes—speeding up the team’s workflow by up to 23.5 man-hours each week.

Once the design phase was finished, McCarthy found themselves in a month-long transition period from design to construction. This was the opportunity to strategically resolve potential constructability issues. With overlays and 3D models, the team chose to resolve 42 issues deemed critical. These were targeted to improve operational excellence and aren’t typically part of design development consideration within the BIM 360 platform. Typically, these key issues would be addressed by marking up physical plans and tracking the changes in excel—an inefficient process that wouldn’t allow for as many issues to be addressed.

With Autodesk solutions, McCarthy could efficiently tackle critical issues. This translates to 42 issues that were avoided on site during the construction phase. Avoiding these issues meant there were 42 fewer communication issues between the design and construction teams, and McCarthy delivered exceptional project turnaround to its client as a result.

One of the unexpected benefits of adoption was how easily the products integrated into the teams’ workflows. Many of the design team members had low or no awareness of these BIM products prior to adoption. Now, asking to view overlays or convert models into 3D views is a daily occurrence. This allows the designers to conduct their job to the best of their ability, and truly innovate the way McCarthy believes in.

Quotation mark

"I want it to be a staple, where not just this design team and this construction team knows about it on this project. I really want to push it on a lot of other projects, because I see the benefit of it. I see the instantaneous workflow that it brings about, and I don't think there's a comparison with that."

- Brandon Neish, VDC Manager, Northern Pacific Region, McCarthy
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