In our quest for continued growth and improvement, we offered tech savvy general contractors the chance to experience HxGN Smart Build, Hexagon’s PPM division’s solution to optimize building design and construction by connecting the office and the field.
First, we held workshops to show how to utilize the Smart Build software; then, we met virtually with the group over the next two months as well as offered individual user sessions to demonstrate functionality, reproduce work processes and import 3D models and schedules.
Some of the Smart Build basics we covered included:
- Model and schedule importing, connecting, and viewing (4D)
- AWP (Advanced Work Packaging) creation and progressing
- Issue workflows
- Model-based point extraction and field layout
- Laser scanning/point cloud integration and model compare
- Possible 5D cost integration (if data available and time-permitting)
Among those forward-thinking companies taking part was Cadnetics, a production support firm with more than 27 years’ experience working as CAD/BIM professionals with AEC firms and corporate facility groups. Providing feedback on Cadnetics’ behalf was Gabrielle Bovard, who manages and directs Cadnetics U, the company’s AEC software training and support service.
Beginning her career in disaster relief construction on the U.S. Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Bovard saw immediate value in BIM technology and leveraged this as she transitioned to commercial and residential architectural design and project management. Through Cadnetics U, she guides users of all levels to proficiency in the software that drives the industry.
Hexagon PPM: From what you have seen of Smart Build so far, what are the top three features/characteristics/benefits that made a positive impression to you?
Gabrielle Bovard: Smart Build has the ability to serve as a virtual construction manager. By integrating this technology, all invested parties can quickly and easily see construction progress, budget and schedule in real time, on demand and in one place. This simplifies communication and allows issues to be addressed immediately.
PPM: With so many software choices and startups, what would be important for us to remember as we engage with the AEC market? What are some areas you feel we should strive to differentiate or highlight?
GB: Ease of use and availability to receive immediate help or training. These are people who are BUSY and can’t spend time learning something complicated and new. Also, Smart Build is the all-in-one platform the AEC community needs. Want to monitor a project? Estimate? See the budget? Smart Build delivers that.
PPM: What are your emerging challenges as a construction company? What continual and prolonged issues are you dealing with?
GB: We’re not a construction company per se, but we do interact a bit with them. We need heightened coordination for our models between disciplines and between differing software.
PPM: Where do your current construction technology software solutions/portfolio fall short?
GB: I would like to see enhanced integration between software so that no data is lost when models are imported or exported from different programs for coordination purposes. Further, a platform that measures and maintains the project budget and timeline would be an asset.
PPM: When connecting model, schedule, and cost, how crucial is it that the data is accurate and kept up with real-time throughout the construction execution?
GB: Critical. What differentiates Smart Build from its competitors is the ability to view a model alongside the build progress and budget to ensure that everything is being done on time and on budget. If this feature weren’t available, it would be a sore loss.
PPM: What do you think about incorporating reality capture into a construction management system as a quantity control check? What are your thoughts on making reality capture/laser scanning available in a more accessible/collaborative environment?
GB: This would really establish Smart Build as the leader in its class. Given the way the pandemic has bent our economic and social climate, it is important to consider ways to reduce site visits so we have only the most important people on location at any time. This will eventually prompt the use of robotics and laser scanning and drone technology to do what field supervisors used to do. To stay ahead of the curve, this is a worthwhile feature to incorporate.
PPM: The way superintendents plan and organize their work hasn’t changed and won’t change. As we push forward with construction tech, at Hexagon we don’t want to change workflows but want to provide an environment that enhances their workflows and is conducive to broad use. Knowing how hard it is to change work culture, or processes, if they’re working well enough as is, what can we do to enhance workflows and technology?
GB: Create a platform that combines absolutely everything a superintendent will need to access. Consider that no one will want to have multiple platforms — that’s inefficient. By putting all the necessary data (budget, schedule, models, point clouds, photographs, webcams, climate/weather, test results, contacts [building inspector, utility, suppliers, etc.], comments, markups, etc.) into one place, you’ve enhanced the superintendent’s efficiency and accountability tenfold.
Jon is the global AEC market segment lead for Hexagon’s PPM division, and he develops and delivers Building & Infrastructure packages for customers. He has a bachelor’s in construction science from Texas A&M University. Over the past 20 years, he has worked on $5 billion of construction projects: airport train systems, hospitals, hotels, prisons, grocery stores and whiskey distilleries as well as the construction of new facilities for U.S. Embassies in Moscow, Beijing and Nicaragua. You can reach him on LinkedIn.