Guided by their core principles of integrity, stewardship, honesty, and respect, BL Harbert International (BL Harbert) takes a unique approach to operating its business. A long-time user of the Autodesk AEC Collection, BL Harbert developed an enterprise agreement with Autodesk and adopted BIM 360 and PlanGrid within Autodesk Construction Cloud™ to expand its portfolio. With the availability of Autodesk Build and Autodesk BIM Collaborate, BL Harbert chose to adopt these solutions as well to connect design to handover, streamlining information management to optimize workflows and deliver higher quality projects to clients.
An Employee-driven Approach to Technology Adoption Leads to Innovation
BL Harbert focuses on implementing technology that maximizes and supports its employees by enabling and empowering them to do their jobs more effectively; as well as, solutions that provide its clients the biggest “bang for their buck”.
“In the early years of our digital transformation, we took a field-first approach to technology adoption and encouraged our employees to test the latest construction technologies that would support their day-to-day jobs and improve overall operations,” says Dane Pemberton, US Group Construction Technology Manager at BL Harbert International. “But there were drawbacks to that approach with silos and inconsistency, so five or six years ago we brought on a CIO that helped leapfrog our infrastructure into the future and we evolved our strategy to focus on adopting cloud-based solutions to better connect project teams.”
This approach is what led BL Harbert to further partner with Autodesk Construction Solutions. A long-time user of the Autodesk AEC Collection, BL Harbert developed an enterprise agreement with Autodesk and adopted BIM 360 and PlanGrid to expand its portfolio. Then as the availability of Autodesk Build and Autodesk BIM Collaborate progressed, BL Harbert chose to adopt these solutions as well to connect design to handover, streamlining information management to optimize workflows and deliver higher quality projects to clients. One of the early projects to use the Autodesk Construction Cloud unified ecosystem is the Portico at Perdido project, a $34 million, 10-floor luxury condominium complex with 27 beachfront residences in Perdido Key, Florida.
“What drew us to Autodesk is its robust ecosystem and our familiarity with the authoring tools. And as a company, we also aligned with Autodesk’s vision of building a connected ecosystem, as shifting to cloud-based services was a goal to make our company more agile as the industry shifted. We took a calculated gamble on Autodesk’s vision, and it’s paying off.”
– Dane Pemberton, US Group Construction Technology Manager
Better Communication and Coordination with Autodesk BIM Collaborate
On the Portico at Perdido project, BL Harbert is leveraging Autodesk BIM Collaborate to work with their subcontracting partners, self-performing concrete and structural steel teams to self-check their work using automatic clash detection. By connecting teams in a cloud-based environment, BL Harbert can identify and resolve issues in earlier stages to avoid costly rework downstream.
Before Autodesk BIM Collaborate, BL Harbert struggled with a strained communication around coordination. With a cumbersome process for sharing clashes and managing file transfers, there were challenges in getting teams to review information, which negatively impacted cost and schedule.
“Not having a good coordination plan at the onset of the project creates inefficient and ineffective coordination meetings. In the past, poor communication around timing and sequencing during the coordination process put us in a bind, as we were stuck with systems that weren’t the most constructible solution,” says Hayes Johnson, BIM/VDC Manager at BL Harbert International.
With automatic clash detection, grouping, and a clash tolerance filter in Autodesk BIM Collaborate, BL Harbert has greater control over which clashes they’d like to focus on. This capability allows the entire project team to drill down into specific building parts and methodically clear clashes that they know won’t be an issue. This process leads to more effective coordination meetings where the team can focus on high-priority issue resolution and keep projects on schedule.
BL Harbert can also create an Issue or an RFI from the field and share that directly with the design team in one application. Historically, issues would be pointed out in a meeting, but there was no way to track meeting minutes in a central location, leading to information loss. The Meetings module in Autodesk BIM Collaborate keeps track of what was discussed with due dates, file references, and assignments to hold teams accountable. Everything is tracked within the module to streamline communication and make sure teams generate high-quality construction documents promptly.
“The dream is to democratize the clash detection and coordination process completely. And that’s what we’ve found with Autodesk BIM Collaborate. Now our trade partners don’t have to rely on the BIM Coordinator to go in, find issues, and send them around to the team to fix. They can easily go in and remove clashes, allowing us to spend more time focusing on areas that are an issue.”
– Hayes Johnson, BIM/VDC Manager
Increased Accountability and Transparency with Autodesk Build
With BL Harbert acting as the GC and self-performing the concrete and structural steel on the Portico at Perdido project, each team uses Autodesk Build to manage individual deliverables and assets, which are connected to the main project folder.
“The way we’re using Build is unique on this project because we have our support groups performing the concrete and structural steel,” says Cheris Martin, Project Manager, BL Harbert International. “We’ve managed the project from design to construction, and the ability to utilize one application to document information is making our team’s lives easier.”
With information documented in real-time, teams can work with confidence that they’re using the most accurate project information. There’s no lag between information sitting in somebody’s email that hasn’t been input into the system. With everyone from the field staff to the design team working in one application, information is automatically updated based on the last step in the workflow.
On the Portico at Perdido project, BL Harbert has biweekly meetings with the owner and architect to review the details of the project. With the Meeting tool in Autodesk Build, teams can quickly find information to create more actionable meetings and facilitate faster issue resolution. This ease of collaboration and communication encourages a high-quality build that’s delivered on schedule. Further, the ability to tie references, tag photos, and descriptions in one centralized location saves the team’s time by not uploading information to multiple systems.
BL Harbert also utilizes the feature in Autodesk Build to automatically generate reports that streamline how RFIs and submittals are input by the field team. This allows the project manager to prepare for the biweekly meetings with the owner and architect. And not only does this save time for the project manager, but it saves time for the field as they do not have to put reports together on RFIs and submittals.
“Autodesk Build keeps our teams accountable as we have increased visibility into the status of RFIs, submittals, and issues. Build helps to prompt conversations - whether they’re good or bad, - that are important to get a project built.”
– Cheris Martin, Project Manager
Continuing to Connect Workflows with Cloud-based Collaboration
To BL Harbert, Autodesk BIM Collaborate and Autodesk Build are not additional solutions being added to its technology stack but tools that allow their teams to spend more time focusing on what’s important: providing a quality building to their owner.
“The use of Autodesk BIM Collaborate and Autodesk Build is driving more impactful relationships with owners, architects, engineers, and subcontractors by streamlining communication and providing easier access to real-time information,” says Pemberton. “With standardized ways of generating templates and documenting information, we can drive consistency across our projects, ultimately increasing the quality of our projects and relationships with our subcontractors.”
And with the adoption of additional tools within the Autodesk Construction Cloud ecosystem, BL Harbert will continue to connect workflows to streamline bid management and estimating.