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Recent developments in building information modeling (BIM) allow today’s companies to manage construction projects more efficiently by establishing and maintaining best practices, reducing bottlenecks and delays, enhancing productivity and improving the bottom line.
Companies are seeing added benefits by pairing BIM technologies with reliable partners and time-saving solutions. As construction teams involved in one of Kansas’ largest renovation projects witnessed, the right mix of people and new age technology gave contactors the best chance to finish the project on time and under budget.
Project Downtown is a master plan for developing the urban core of Wichita, Kan. The plan focuses on key stretches of the downtown area and includes both private and public investment. Private companies are financing development projects, while public investment is going toward transit systems, parks and other infrastructure. The collective goal is to create an area that has a positive impact on the community’s quality of life and encourages regional economic growth.
Union Station, a two-story train depot built in the early 1900s as a central railway station, was repurposed as a commercial office building when the city ended its passenger rail service in 1979. Today, it is central to the city’s ambitious urban renewal project.
Laying the Foundation
In September 2018, Kruse Corp., a diversified mechanical contracting firm based in Kansas, was selected to renovate the hydronic piping system in Union Station. The project schedule was ambitious — even without considering the unknowns of a building more than a century old and the fact that work would have to be completed during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays.
With a move-in date of April 1, 2019, for the new commercial tenants, Kruse was determined to meet the exacting schedule. So they reached out to Victaulic and laid out the requirements and timeline.
Before construction could begin, it was important to understand the workspace. Union Station’s mechanical room was in the basement so there was limited space, which proposed unique obstacles for the Kruse team. The unlit basement was six feet high, and the contractor knew at the outset there was insufficient space for the hydronic system.
Excavation would be necessary before work could begin, so it was critical to understand the layout, potential interference from existing structures and the proposed placement of the new system components.
Site assessments usually begin with a sketch made from physical measurements, which is time-intensive and has the potential for mistakes to be made. Fortunately, Victaulic’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team used a FARO 3D scanner to assess the basement instead. Using the scanner allowed the team to quickly compile measurements of the room and the existing piping network while eliminating the need to go back to the jobsite for a missing measurement.
Additionally, as the project progressed, the scans streamlined design conversations since the model and the scan could be overlaid to ensure the designs were aligned with the space. While traditional site assessment methods would have taken two to three days, the digital scan was completed in a single day, delivering a time savings that was critical in meeting the demanding project schedule.
Once the scan was completed, it was overlaid on the project drawings to determine where efficiencies could be achieved. The scan also verified the planned installation matched the room dimensions. The data, made up of more than 40 scans, fed into the BIM software, assuring the correct dimensions were used. This allowed the designers from Victaulic, Kruse and other trades to be aware of any potential interference as components were assembled for the hydronic piping systems.
Coordinating in Real Time
Using Victaulic Tools for Revit — a pipe routing software add-in specifically designed for engineers and contractors using Victaulic products — the VDC team drew all piping sized 2 1/2 inches and larger and submitted the drawings to Kruse. Once everything was approved, Victaulic began drawing equipment and piping schematics and shared a virtual model with the Kruse design team.
Taking advantage of Navisworks for clash detection, designers from both companies began piecing the system together, noting, for example, that previous electrical components posed impediments that would require piping to be routed around them. This information allowed the teams to coordinate workarounds that would permit construction to proceed without interruption once work began onsite, streamlining the design and avoiding costly and time-consuming rework down the road.
Using Trimble layout software, the teams were able to see where components were being placed in relation to one another. The Victaulic model was imported to the Kruse model to ensure system design was coordinated throughout the project. This allowed the Kruse designer to lay out duct work and hangers based on the piping design developed by Victaulic. Once the designs were confirmed, semi-trucks began excavating 47 loads of earth to prepare the space for the hydronic systems.
A nearby Victaulic facility manufactured the pipe spools for installation and shipped them to the jobsite, following the BIM assembly map provided by the design team. Since Kruse knew exactly what was coming and when the components would be delivered, they were able to efficiently organize and execute a systematic construction schedule.
While work was being done in the Victaulic shop, Kruse was installing hangers in preparation for the pipe spool delivery. Once a spool arrived on the worksite, it was lifted straight up into the hangers and installed in place.
Since the piping systems were installed in a confined space, ventilation was a safety concern. The contractor determined welded connections would not be feasible due to the open flame and fumes. With that in mind, Kruse decided that the most efficient way to meet the schedule would be to use Victaulic’s grooved mechanical joining system, which would allow joints to be connected safely and easily in this space-restricted area.
Using BIM to schedule the work resulted in significant time savings, allowing installers to complete 80 percent of the basement in just a few days. Everything fit as intended, enabling accelerated installation. By using visually inspectable parts, workers could verify proper installation as the system came together, enabling work to proceed safely and delivering a reliable and robust system.
Victaulic’s BIM expertise saved Kruse an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 on this project, while the simplified construction reduced the hours of construction from 4,000 to 3,100, yielding an additional $40,000 in labor savings.
Kruse also gained other indirect value from the BIM workflows; it enabled the mechanical contractor to leverage preconstruction software tools and coordinate this project with Victaulic from conception through installation. The combination of BIM services and Victaulic products simplified coordination, reduced risks during construction and cut the manpower needed for this project in half.
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