Whitman, Requardt and Associates, LLP (WRA) is an engineering, architectural, construction management and environmental firm that has one of the biggest clients in the country, the $3.5 billion budget Virginia Department of Transportation. According to Leonard Coleman, Associate for Construction Management Services, “We specialize mainly in highway transportation, from bridges, railways, also water wastewater facilities. One of our main clients is the Virginia Department of Transportation.”
With such massive projects and large clients, communication and coordination are key. “I’ll say one of the unique challenges in heavy civil, and primarily also in construction management is that we interface with everybody on the project team. We interface with the engineer, the owner, the contractor, and the inspection team. Striking the balance between resolving everyone’s issues and delivering a project is one of the challenges that we deal with on a daily basis. We deliver quality so that when we’re building a roadway that’s designed to last 100 years, it will last for 100 years,” says Coleman.
With so much coordination, it is essential for everyone to work from the same set of plans and for the client to have visibility into the project. Teams must ensure they have the right plans, and that they’re referencing the right information. “Before PlanGrid, on several of our projects, we noticed that we may have a set of plans as the inspection team, and the contractor has another set, and then all the while, the designer and the owner has another one,” says Coleman.
WRA recognized that their biggest weakness was their lack of communication. To ensure everyone was working off the same information, WRA would improve communication and begin saving time and money.
“One of the neat things about PlanGrid is how we’ve improved our coordination effort. We invite the owner into all our PlanGrid projects so the owner has instantaneous access into what we’re seeing in the field,” says Coleman.
Before PlanGrid, WRA would receive calls from their clients requesting photos and updates on the contractor or issues. Now a client, often Virginia DOT, has access to the same PlanGrid project where they have instant access to the project information. Not only that, but contractors can quickly access the issues and begin work right away, “The contractors that we work with often say, ‘Hey I’m working off the same sheet as you guys. What are the issues out there, where’s the punch list?’ We just show them the punch list in PlanGrid and they start working on it,” says Coleman. According to Coleman, because everyone’s on the same page, PlanGrid has cut down on negative interactions between all parties, sped up the projects, and assured quality work.
Along with field collaboration, WRA uses PlanGrid during pre-construction. Coleman says, “In preconstruction, we’ve got our design team on board with PlanGrid. We’ve shown them that they can overlay drawings in PlanGrid and find conflicts.” Having designers interact more closely with construction managers in the field makes for a better client experience, “We recently did a bidability and constructability review for an owner and used PlanGrid to show the existing conditions in the field. We uploaded photos using PlanGrid in the field and identified issues that were not in the plans. Before shovels even hit the ground, we saved the client money.”
Saving the client money, especially a large government agency, helps WRA win more work. Coleman says, “That was something that they really took a liking too, and I can assure you that when the time comes around for the contract to get a bid, they’ll be looking at products that can save them time and money.”
Even in the harsh conditions of highway construction WRA uses PlanGrid when walking job sites for inspections. “We can explain the plans with five inches of rain pouring down on an encased iPad. We make markups with the owner right in the field and send them to the designer to get answers very quickly. That savings alone continues to keep our project on time and within budget.”
In road and highway construction, safety is first and foremost. Coleman measures success on the job by making sure everybody goes home safely.
As he drives through his jobsite on his way home, he conducts his own inspection using PlanGrid, “I’m looking at everything under the moon, not only including the road, but around the job site. If anything looks unsafe, whether for my folks, the contractor, or the traveling public, I stop on the side of the road and I get the contractors’ attention.”
WRA uses PlanGrid for construction management across the construction lifecycle and it has become a necessary tool for managing client and contractor relationships. As a proven solution that speeds up projects, saves money and ensures safety on the job site, WRA relies on PlanGrid to impress clients and win more work.