Dominick Florentine, director of virtual design and construction at Renick Brothers, was skeptical that Trimble SysQue MEP software would improve productivity, but since trying it out, he admitted, “I’m working smarter because of the features and functionality of the software.” Trimble is a sponsor of MCAA’s 2021 Virtual Education Conference.
Florentine explained, “I’ve been drawing in CAD for almost 20 years. A few years ago, the owner wanted to switch to Revit because he saw it as the future. I was not on board because I thought I could draw much faster in AutoCAD.” With the transition to Revit pending, a Trimble SysQue representative encouraged Florentine to give it a try.Today, Florentine is a believer. He noted, “While you can’t draw superfast in Revit, the content it provides down the road saves so much time. Essentially, Revit powered by SysQue shapes a streamlined and automated workflow that isn’t possible in AutoCAD. No matter the complexity, SysQue kicks in and turns simple data into intelligent content.
”Because most of the models Renick creates are designed by the engineers in Revit, they have a lot of object intelligence at their fingertips. These are great starting points, and SysQue does the laborious tasks, such as breaking joints and adding connections.
“The goal is to work smarter, not necessarily faster,” said Florentine. “Revit combined with SysQue empowers our detailers to create constructible models that are ready for fabrication—AutoCAD can’t do that.”
Florentine said his favorite thing about Revit is the scheduling tools. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “Everything I draw is 100-percent extractable, so I always have an accurate count within the schedule direct from the model. That’s the way to accelerate project delivery with intelligence.”
For more information and to request a personalized demo, visit mep.trimble.com.
MCAA thanks Trimble for being a sponsor of MCAA’s 2021 Virtual Education Conference.
After winning a renovation project to transform the Waikiki Trade Center into a 230-room contemporary Hyatt Centric hotel, the Dorvin D. Leis Company, Inc. (DDL), Hawaii’s largest mechanical contractor, decided to ditch the string and tape for the Trimble RPT600 paired with Trimble Field Link software. The cutting-edge technology helped DDL save time, increase productivity, and bring a constructible process from the office to the field and back again.
Transitioning from Tape to Tech
For over half a century, DDL has been Hawaii’s go-to mechanical contractor for projects ranging from resorts and high-rise complexes to schools and hospitals. As the company transitioned from 2D plans to data-rich, truly constructible building information modeling (BIM), realizing the benefits meant finding a way to share information seamlessly between the office and the field. DDL had been relying on tape and string measure for layout, which was error-prone and, in many ways, hindered the adoption of a constructible process.
Brady Pennington, DDL’s BIM manager, viewed the ability to extend data to the field as one of the biggest benefits of a constructible model. “We invest a lot of time and resources in creating pristine, data-rich models,” he said. “A large part of the return on our investment is bringing that data to the field so our crews can use it to work faster and smarter.”
Building a Better Model
The renovation project had its share of challenges. Because the 22-story, 248,000-square-foot high-rise was originally built in the 1970s, the as-built model lacked exact dimensions. The building was twisted and 2” off-center from the ground to the top floor, which caused discrepancies in measurements that made it difficult to determine placement of walls and, as a result, ductwork, fire sprinklers, and plumbing hangers as well. In addition, the building was occupied during construction, which required the various teams working onsite to minimize disruption.
The first step was using the Trimble RPT600, a total station designed for construction layout, and Field Link to collect existing condition data points that were then imported into the design model. Collecting the as-built points with the RPT600 and merging them into the model allowed DDL to accurately modify the sleeve locations so fabrication would line up in areas where the building was twisted. With this new data, Pennington and his team could easily identify clashes and correct problems before work began.
The RPT600 comes with an automatic setup function, so it does not require leveling procedures that typically slow down field crews. According to Pennington, “The RPT600 won our crew over because they could literally take it out of the box, set it on the tripod, turn it on, and start working immediately.”
Confident in the constructible model, the crew began layout. Using the Field Link software, they were able, for the first time, to view the model on a rugged Trimble Kenai tablet. With tablet in hand, the worker could see exactly what the instrument was seeing and could point, visualize, and position the instrument directly from the screen. The RPT600 has a laser beam that measures and identifies exact locations on the building that correspond to points in the constructible model, so the information conceived in the office is shared onsite seamlessly. The laser made it easy to layout and install the ductwork, fire sprinklers, and plumbing hangers faster and more accurately than ever before.
“Without the RPT600 and Field Link, we would have had to load the floors with raw materials, stick-build the entire project, and take down the resulting waste,” said Pennington. “It provided massive savings. Not only could we get the job done faster, but one person could layout five times as many points as a two-person team using manual efforts. My crew spent more time with their skills and less time using tape and string.”
Bridging the Communication Gap
Trimble’s cloud-based collaboration platform, Trimble Connect, also played a large role in the project’s success by ensuring that field layout points were seamlessly passed between the office and the field. The crew could easily download, upload, and share data with project teams and stakeholders through Trimble Connect. Openly sharing the design intent with the field crew allowed DDL to work in a truly collaborative way. By using technology to bridge communication and information gaps, all trades and project phases were more complete and better connected—ultimately driving smarter, constructible workflows.
With this combination of hardware and software, DDL was able to lay out approximately 22,000 points and install the ductwork, fire sprinklers, and plumbing hangers.
“The ability to communicate and share constructible data with the field has drastically reduced our layout time and manhours in general,” said Pennington. “You can make a wonderful model all day long, but if your crew in the field can’t use it, you’ve wasted money, because they will have to field-coordinate where hangers should go when we’ve already done that work in the model.”
Improving Fabrication Productivity
Pennington also noted that the RPT600 increased fabrication productivity. “We can fabricate more because we know that our hanger layout is going to match our shop drawings. If your business is interested in fabrication and BIM, this is an essential tool. There’s no reason to create a data-rich model and not use it to its fullest. You just can’t communicate a thousand hanger locations efficiently in any other way.”
DDL now uses the RPT600 for all of its renovation projects with consistent accuracy and efficiency gains. “The RPT600 has saved us a tremendous amount of time across projects,” said Pennington. “We completed a project recently where a single journeyman was able to lay out over 300 hanger points in a mechanical room by himself, all in one day. We couldn’t work this fast without the RPT600.”
For a recent retrofit, Arden Engineering Constructors knew that an accurate as-built assessment of the project was essential to ensure a smooth process, so they put their Trimble® TX6 Scanner and RealWorks® Office software to the test. The scan took one field worker about 4 hours, compared with an estimated 32-man hours for manual measurements—a labor savings of 90 percent.
Technology Investment Pays Off
Several years ago, Bill Cameron, building information modeling (BIM) manager for Arden Engineering Constructors recalled, the company began to see a substantial uptick in the number of RFPs for MEP and HVAC systems renovation and retrofit jobs, as opposed to new construction projects. As a first step, such work typically requires an accurate picture of preconstruction conditions. For every pipe and duct in a HVAC system, for example, there are numerous hangers, sleeves, and other components precisely positioned within the structure to support it. An as-built model gathers precise measurements for all relevant MEP elements of the building, so contractors can determine current conditions and assess the impact of the redesigned system. The conventional method for generating as-builts for MEP systems is to measure and record all components across the building site by hand. To modernize this process, Arden Engineering Constructors sought out 3D scanners and point cloud modeling alternatives.
Already a loyal user of Trimble technology, including Trimble PipeDesigner 3D and SysQue® for Autodesk Revit™ MEP, the team adopted the Trimble TX5 laser scanner and later the TX6 scanner along with RealWorks office software. They chose the Trimble TX6 3D laser scanner because it provided the speed, quality, and range to make in-field data collection fast and efficient. RealWorks allowed them to create 3D deliverables. Arden Engineering Constructors estimated that the TX6 scanner paid for itself after about four projects with increased speed and
accuracy of gathering as-built preconstruction data.
“One of the biggest benefits of the TX6 scanner is the high-speed scanning and consistent accuracy. We estimated it would have taken about four days or 32 man-hours to complete an as-built assessment manually.”
For a new and retrofit project for a small biopharmaceutical facility located in Cambridge, MA, Arden Engineering Constructors took on a project that included HVAC, controls, balancing and fabrication work, and the addition of a roof mezzanine. Phase 1 of the project required them to set up a temporary boiler and
chiller plant to service the existing nine-building campus, which featured 644,771 square feet of laboratory, office, and retail space across nearly eight acres. It also included all remodeled and installed duct work for the existing area and the addition to support the next phase of the project. Phase 2 involved integrating the chill water plant, new chillers, and new chilling towers.
Completing an accurate as-built assessment of the project was essential to ensure that retrofitting of additional MEP systems would not clash. Arden Engineering Constructors used the Trimble TX6 3D laser scanner to gather the precise 3D location of surfaces, HVAC components, objects, and duct work. Scans were conducted outside and indoors with scanning speeds of 500,000 points per second and a scanning range of 80 meters standard on most surfaces (and 120 meters with an optional upgrade). Cameron said each scan took approximately
seven minutes, and all the scans were completed over a four-hour period. During each, the scanner collected millions of data points, also called a point cloud.
“One of the biggest benefits of the TX6 scanner is the high-speed scanning
and consistent accuracy,” said Cameron. “We estimated it would have taken about four days or 32 man-hours to complete an as-built assessment manually.”
Cameron continued, “With the Trimble scanner, we had access to high-quality data fast, and we were able to quickly capture clean data even in bright sunlight. We scanned this project as sort of a favor to the contractor on site, so they didn’t have to put it out to bid. That saved them approximately $10,000 and helped us
secure future phases of the project.”
From Data to 3D
After the scan, the data were exported into Trimble RealWorks software to register, analyze, model, and create 3D deliverables. RealWorks essentially segments the cloud data into bite-sized pieces, which is easier for CAD modeling software to digest.
Using RealWorks, Arden Engineering Constructors modeled the point cloud’s specific MEP components and exported these solid objects to the 3D design package, Autodesk Revit, for finish detailing activities. The point cloud served as a starting point for MEP system detailing efforts and was used to determine the
project design impacts on the existing structure. Once the laser scan of point cloud data was converted, the team used SysQue to inject greater intelligence into the 3D BIM model. With SysQue, Arden Engineering Constructors was able to include real-world content in the design, including detailing, fabrication, manufacturing, and installation specifications. The model was viewed in Revit, then exported to Autodesk’s Navisworks software, which created a snapshot of the project including models, the scene’s environment, viewpoints and redlines, and measurements for coordination among trades.
“After we scanned the building, we forwarded that information on to the construction manager on the project,” said Cameron. “The point cloud from the scanner and RealWorks gave us a clear and accurate picture of what we were looking at for phase 2 of the project. We also liked that the point cloud data from the scan folded seamlessly into our Revit, SysQue, and Navisworks workflow.”
A Step Ahead
Cameron believes Trimble scanning technology along with the ability to convert point clouds into modeled 3D components help set Arden Engineering Constructors apart as a leading HVAC and MEP services contractor. The team can tackle complex projects for customers and offer comprehensive and innovative solutions that save time and money and meet the industry’s highest quality standards.
“We see the industry trending towards relationships, more than pure dollars and cents,” said Cameron. “Customers want to know that we can provide complete MEP services including balancing how our scope of work on a project impacts all other trades and the project’s overall cost. Trimble’s 3D scanner and software helps us do this and it fits into our BIM workflow. It’s just one more reason why we’re positioned much better to help customers in the MEP and mechanical services space because we’re thinking big picture.”
To speed the design and fabrication workflow for a customer’s research facility build, North Mechanical Contracting & Service used Trimble® systems, saving an estimated $1 million in costs and cutting by 400 percent the time that would have been needed for traditional materials takeoff tasks. The project required North Mechanical to generate material takeoffs and fabricate all mechanical and plumbing components for a laboratory building in south-side Indianapolis, IN. It represents the company’s largest fabrication contract to date for one of the area’s largest manufacturers.
North Mechanical is well known in the industry for successfully using the integrated project delivery (IPD) method to deliver challenging industrial projects on time, under budget, and with fewer risks. IPD is a collaborative approach to project delivery that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices of all stakeholders to optimize project results and increase value to the owner.
Dustin Allen, project and building information modeling (BIM) manager for North Mechanical, explained that technology is fundamental to the IPD process and critical to optimizing the design-to-fabrication-to-construction workflow. “Today we take on a lot of industrial IPD builds, which means we have a much bigger role in the actual project design piece,” said Allen. “There is a real need for more intelligent, fabrication-ready models that have the actual system components included. That’s why we turned to Trimble SysQue®.”
Technology Improves Efficiency
Traditionally, manual processes for this type of work included measurement of end-to-pipe and pipe-to-hanger dimensions, manual quantity takeoff, and individual component labeling. With the typical fabrication cut sheets consisting of about 50 pieces, elevations, and more than 30 fittings each, the process is tedious, prone to errors, and inefficient. Looking to eliminate unknowns and create a more automated and accurate fabrication workflow, North Mechanical adopted Trimble SysQue and the Autodesk® Revit® platform—first for the fabrication of hangers and then for pipes and components.
“We knew we wanted to eliminate manual steps for fabricators and improve the accuracy and efficiency of everything from fabrication down to installation,” said Allen. “When you add fittings into SysQue, the model is smart enough to give you the pipe length, and when you get to the end, pipe length is reflected in the schedule. You can cut 100 pieces at five feet and put pieces on with fittings with extreme accuracy. We knew this would save a tremendous amount of time and rework, and the big payoff would be big savings for our customer.”
North Mechanical uses SysQue to design fully constructible Revit LOD 400 models based on manufacturing-specific content. Using SysQue in Revit enhances the model of systems with materials and sizes based on actual manufacturer products by name and part number. As a result, fabricators can produce pipes, fittings, and hangers much more quickly and accurately than using conventional methods. Allen explained that with SysQue, the model includes relevant fields for spool drawings for fabrication and installation, such as piece number, diameter, nominal size, size, family and type, system classification, system abbreviation, material, count, and length.
The laboratory project also helped North Mechanical establish a completely new fabrication workflow for producing piping spools and fabricated skids that can be replicated for other projects. That includes importing raw component data into Excel and Word programs to easily organize, print, and apply labels to each
hanger and component.
“Having this level of manufacturing detail on our hanger and component labels increased our efficiency and allowed us to cut our workforce in half during the peak of the job.”
—Dustin Allen, Project/BIM Manager, North Mechanical
“Having this level of manufacturing detail on our hanger and component labels increased our efficiency and allowed us to cut our workforce in half during the peak of the job,” said Allen. “By allowing us to fabricate roughly 90 percent of components offsite, we also reduced our footprint on the job and allowed for increased efficiency among our partners because they had more insight into and they had longer to complete their work,” he added.
“Our new workflow with SysQue and Revit has helped improve collaboration with fabricators tremendously.”
—Dustin Allen, Project/BIM Manager, North Mechanical
Using SysQue on the lab project, North Mechanical fabricated 60,000 linear feet of piping and over six dozen skids and preassembled modules. Allen believes that the solution has strengthened the quality of the piping and component design by providing fabricators with access to 3D, information-rich models very early in the prefabrication process. “Our new workflow with SysQue and Revit has helped improve collaboration with fabricators tremendously,” said Allen. “They now ask more meaningful questions, which leads to better coordination between us, less rework, and higher quality design. This new process eliminated 90 percent of rework on the lab build, which is huge. We had zero change orders due to clashes or coordination issues on that job, which is outstanding. The intelligent 3D model gives fabricators a better sense spatially of the components and eliminates problems before they happen.”
“This new process eliminated 90 percent of rework on the lab build, which is huge. We had zero change orders due to clashes or coordination issues on that job, which is outstanding.”
—Dustin Allen, Project/BIM Manager, North Mechanical
Leveraging Just-in-Time Ordering
North Mechanical is also generating material takeoffs from the schedules developed with SysQue and Revit. Vendors receive a part list with approximately 1,000 line items, organize and accept the spreadsheets, and place orders directly using North Mechanical’s schedules. In most cases, components are delivered in two to three days—enabling fabricators to have the exact materials they need, precisely when they need them.
Allen estimates he has ordered 90 percent of all materials for the lab project from his desk with 100-percent accuracy in terms of the precise number of components, fittings, and valves required. This precision allows Allen and his team to be more focused and deliberate with fabrication and management on the job. He estimates it can cost tens of thousands of dollars in restocking fees and labor costs to perform takeoffs using conventional methods. With SysQue, North Mechanical has eliminated those expenses and other possible unknown expenses required for takeoff. Altogether, Allen estimates today the company is saving 400 percent of time compared with traditional materials takeoff tasks.
More Accurate Layout and Installation
North Mechanical is also using Trimble Field Link for MEP, a solution that consists of the Trimble Field Link software powering a ruggedized tablet connected to a Trimble Robotic Total Station for laying out hangers and assigning naming conventions to embedded structures in the field. This approach reduces errors and extends the BIM workflow by allowing North Mechanical to export hanger points or cable tray attachment locations from the 3D MEP models to the field for simplified field location and staking.
Overall, Allen believes that one of the biggest competitive advantages of using SysQue and Revit is that the platforms have improved their models and they deliver a higher quality of design and higher quality of installation. “With SysQue and Revit we’re able to validate install with the BIM model first, which increases savings and reduces rework and change orders required dramatically,” said Allen. “Overall, I would estimate we achieved at least a 10-percent shared cost savings using SysQue and Revit on the lab build, resulting in about $1 million savings in total. Best of all, it made our customer very, very happy and we now have this streamlined fabrication workflow in place that we’ll leverage, and it will make us more competitive going forward.”
For more information, visit www.trimble.com. MCAA thanks Trimble for being a supporter of MCAA18 and providing a convention souvenir.
North Mechanical will present on best practices at the MCAA 2018 Fabrication Conference.
Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding, Inc. relied heavily on Trimble’s AutoBid Mechanical and PipeDesigner 3D® to plan out a multitrade prefabrication approach during the bidding process for a hospital expansion project and take charge of multitrade coordination throughout the expedited construction schedule.
“On many jobs, the mechanical contractor is the prime trade coordinator, bringing together all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and sprinkler systems,” explained Mike Savko, construction manager with Prout. “3D technology, and PipeDesigner 3D specifically, is very familiar to the industry. From a coordination standpoint, everything we do is clear to the other trades. The fact that we can coordinate with people we work with is a big plus.”
Building information modeling (BIM) solutions are keeping Prout competitive in a field with increasingly frequent demands for fast-track, multitrade coordination and prefabrication that begins long before the structural framework is in place. In the past 10 years, Prout has invested in 3D tools that have helped the firm deliver ever-more-complex piping solutions with greater efficiency, while also setting the stage for emerging business opportunities.
Take, for example, the Salem Regional Medical Center’s patient private room tower in Salem, OH. Savko explained, “This project, among many others, demonstrates just how much our business has changed in recent years and the importance of technology to meet expectations. Technology in the way of bidding and 3D detailing software is a game changer for us—and our clients.”
Youngstown, OH-based Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding is a commercial and industrial plumbing, HVAC, and process piping company, with emphasis in the construction and renovation of health care and education facilities primarily in the state of Ohio.
The Salem Hospital tower project was the first project in Northeast Ohio to use multitrade prefabrication. The $42.5-million project includes three floors of private patient rooms, guest and visitor amenities, and a two-level, underground parking structure. The owner stipulated an 18-month construction schedule, with completion in 2014.
“AutoBid Mechanical has allowed us to generate full labor and material reports fast enough to turn bids around in as little as a day or two. … In the old days without the software, we would already be behind.”
—Mike Savko, Construction Manager, Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding, Inc.
To facilitate the fast-track schedule, the overhead corridor rack systems, patient room bathroom pods, and medical gas headwall units were prefabricated in parallel with the structural work.
Savko said, “Most new building construction puts the MEP trades on hold until at least the structural framework is available. With the expedited schedule on the Salem project, the owner could not afford for that type of sequential construction. Instead, we used our in-house design team to coordinate the plumbing, HVAC, fire protection, and electrical work with BIM and began prefabrication at an offsite warehouse in parallel with the tower shell erection.”
Tools of the Trade
Savko noted, “It wasn’t that long ago that our legacy pipefitters used pencil and paper to take measurements in the field and draw things up by hand. That’s not something that we can do anymore and stay competitive. Owners won’t pay for that. They expect work to be handled with technology for improved accuracy and less waste. We agree—though not just any technology will do.”
Prout first invested in Trimble AutoBid Mechanical in 2000 as a way to generate labor/material quotes quicker than by hand. Savko said, “AutoBid Mechanical has allowed us to generate full labor and material reports fast enough to turn bids around in as little as a day or two. When there are multiple projects to estimate week after week, or if another subcontractor asks us for a last-minute price, we are able to meet the deadlines. In the old days without the software, we would already be behind.”
The biggest benefit of PipeDesigner 3D, according to Prout detailers, is the ability to create pipe fabrication drawings. Detailers take advantage of PipeDesigner 3D’s extensive database with over 36,000 items with representation from 34 manufacturers every day to create drawings. Savko said, “It’s easy to pick pipe and fittings from the library. If it’s not readily available, or it’s a special item, PipeDesigner 3D’s Data Editor makes it easy to create or revise an existing similar object. We can do anything with the software.”
Detailers also appreciate the automatic creation of a bill of materials from the 3D model, a list that includes cut links and fittings tags, along with installation information and fabrication points for welded projects.
“Thanks to 3D technology, we keep finding efficient ways to expedite the whole piping process from layout to design to fabrication and enhance our multi-trade coordination capabilities. … Since implementation in our company, it’s paid for itself tenfold.”
—Mike Savko, Construction Manager, Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding, Inc.
Another big advantage to PipeDesigner 3D for Prout is coordination. Savko added, “Many of our competitors sub out their coordination tasks to an engineering firm. With this technology, we are able to do it all in-house.”
Prout also implemented Trimble DuctDesigner 3D in 2014—even though they are not a duct supplier. “We’re a piping contractor,” emphasized Savko, “but because we are often the model coordinator for trade subcontractors, we needed the ability to draw duct accurately in our drawings with speed so that we get truer as-built conditions. We’re saving time doing coordination with the DuctDesigner 3D.”
The company’s use of PipeDesigner 3D came in particularly handy on the Salem tower project.
Racks and Tracks
As part of the Salem tower project, Prout detailed all the mains and branches and designed and fabricated 60 corridor racks. The corridor racks were each 20′ long by 8′ wide by about 27″ high. Bathroom pods were roughly 6.5′ square by 10′ tall.
Savko explained, “We own the corridor rack design, so I drew the structural racks from scratch, placed our piping, duct, the sprinkler fitter’s piping, and the electrician’s conduit using PipeDesigner 3D to verify fit. The other subs did not have PipeDesigner 3D available, but because we were able to lay everything out for them, it wasn’t necessary. We accounted for everyone’s line sizes and number of conduits in various areas to designate ‘zones’ that belonged to each sub.”
Once the racks, pods, and walls were complete, the prefabricated items were delivered to the tower construction site for installation.
While Savko doesn’t know exactly how much time was saved on the project, he is very aware of the advantages created by prefabricating the bathroom pods and corridor racks. He added, “We were installing bathroom pods and corridor racks before exterior walls were going up. We were in the building doing install right after the floors were poured with concrete. Normally, we would have just started putting hangers and piping up. On this project, we had full corridor main systems and bathroom groups completed.”
Prout recently used the combination of AutoBid Mechanical and PipeDesigner 3D to bid a hospital heat exchanger project. In this case, the mechanical room was jampacked.
Savko said, “With our laser tools, we were able to get measurements in a couple hours, draw it in PipeDesigner 3D, and then draw in a new heat exchanger along with details about how we’d do the replacement, including labor hours and materials. We refined our material-based drawings and won the job and the subsequent fabrication, and, as an added bonus, we had installation drawings ready for our field guys.”
The benefits of estimating and detailing solutions are also playing a big role in the company’s strategic growth, which includes expanding its industrial pipe fabrication and commercial prefabrication services. Prout detailers are looking forward to using Trimble’s Quick Link integrator tool that will allow take-off in AutoBid Mechanical and define route lines in PipeDesigner 3D to automatically draw pipe and fittings, which would expedite the drawing process. Savko said, “Much like the Salem tower project, the owners want the project completed faster so they can start generating revenue earlier than conventional construction. We’d like to expand our fabrication shop to meet growing demand—the success of this endeavor will depend on our detailers and PipeDesigner 3D.”
Savko concluded, “Thanks to 3D technology, we keep finding efficient ways to expedite the whole piping process from layout to design to fabrication and enhance our multi-trade coordination capabilities. I went for training on PipeDesigner 3D in 2007. Since implementation in our company, it’s paid for itself tenfold.”
Devastated by Tornado, Joplin, MO, to Get New Hospital in 2015
The new Mercy Hospital Joplin in Joplin, MO, is on schedule to open in 2015, thanks in part to efforts by U.S. Engineering. To meet the needs of this fast-track effort to replace the former St. John’s Mercy Regional Medical Center, destroyed on May 22, 2011, by an EF-5 tornado, U.S. Engineering used a host of Trimble solutions to establish one of the industry’s most efficient, accurate, and repeatable design-to-fabrication-to-installation workflows ever put in place on a hospital project.
Mercy, the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S., initiated plans to build the new $335 million Mercy Hospital Joplin with a design-to-construction-to-commissioning goal of just three years. The decision was made early in the design phase to bring in the major MEP partners in a design-assist role, or modified integrated project delivery (IPD).
As part of the team, U.S. Engineering was contracted to handle the mechanical and plumbing design, fabrication, and installation of the entire project. Given the tight schedule and size and scope of the job, and the survey-accuracy positioning required for every component, U.S. Engineering knew it would have to draw on all of its technology expertise to keep the project on track.
Design to Fabrication
The new 875,000-square-foot Mercy Hospital Joplin, designed to withstand a powerful tornado, will include beds for surgical services, critical care, women’s and children’s services, behavioral health, and rehab. The bottom three floors of the structure will include hospital space along with a seven-story patient tower and a four-story clinic tower rising above the hospital space.
The facility also incorporates heavy duty mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems. A new 30,000-square-foot central utility plant (CUP) will house emergency equipment and generators located away from the hospital with a strengthened exterior. Utility service access to the CUP from the hospital will be via a 450-foot underground tunnel.
The hospital mechanical and plumbing systems include the necessary components for fuel storage, air supply and return, chilled water, condenser water, HVAC, and plumbing, as well as piping for the tunnel between the hospital and the CUP.
For example, the CUP system includes three steam boilers and boiler feed pumps fed by a high-pressure 12” steam main. The CUP chilled water system includes three 2,000-ton chillers and three chilled water pumps with 24” supply and return mains from the chillers to the tunnel and chilled water return main from pumps to chillers. The CUP also has three cooling towers and three condenser water pumps connected by a 30-inch underground main.
For the project, all of the subcontractors were required to have 3D coordination capabilities. Because of the fast-track nature of the project, the goal was to use the detailed 3D model, which would include all MEP elements, to issue construction documents and facilitate a speedier start to fabrication concurrent to contract documents.
Jeff Kiblen, U.S. Engineering’s project manager of fabrication/3D coordination oversight for the mechanical and plumbing systems on the project, recalled, “We came on board in December 2011, and we were putting in deep underground by March 2012. Most projects of this scope and scale would require six weeks to complete drawings, issue documents, and finish detailing. Because of the modified IPD methodology, we had to be exponentially faster.”
The Mercy Hospital Joplin project broke ground in January 2012. Once the foundation and structural steel had been installed on the site and the first floor deck pour was complete, U.S. Engineering began installing the
hangers and sleeves for the piping and sheet metal components that would be routed overhead.
Kiblen noted, “This was our biggest challenge on the project. On any given day, we’d need to locate hundreds of points on a given floor, which spanned over 100,000 square feet. At the beginning of the project, we had three Trimble RTS robotic total stations to be used by our six-to-eight-member field team.” The pace of the project design, fabrication, and installation drove the need for more robotic total stations, which U.S. Engineering was able to rent from Trimble.
For the hospital project, the team used three Trimble RTS773 Robotic Total Stations connected to the Windows 7 Trimble Field Tablet and two Trimble RTS655 Robotic Total Stations connected to Nomad handheld units. The Trimble robotic total station units integrated radio frequency communication capability instead of Wi-Fi, ensuring no loss of signal.
“The military-grade radio has made a huge difference in connectivity and communication throughout the project,” said Kiblen.
Once design of the mechanical and plumbing systems was coordinated and approved, U.S. Engineering used Trimble Point Creator for CAD and Revit (TPC) to create 2D and 3D field points within Revit. “This was the first time that we had used TPC to this magnitude. One great advantage of the tool is the ability to break systems up into more manageable sizes,” said Kiblen. “For instance, the mechanical systems might be broken up as third-floor patient tower exhaust, return and supply air.”
Once the team was ready to move into the field, the points were exported to a Trimble Field Link for MEP robotic total station to lay out the floor penetrations and hanger support embeds.
“Overall, it took us two to three weeks to complete each floor, including setting units, triangulating, and then positioning,” said Kiblen. “On average, the field layout person can routinely layout between 40 and 50 points an hour in good conditions.”
To date, U.S. Engineering has completed the design of the mechanical and plumbing systems and located in excess of 78,000 points for sleeves, embeds, floor penetrations, drains, and hanger supports. U.S. Engineering has also used the TPC and Trimble Field Link for MEP connection to verify as-constructed conditions with the architectural floor plan.
In terms of accuracy, U.S. Engineering is very satisfied. Kiblen said, “Any inaccuracy, especially with sleeve layouts in walls for plumbing, would have created significant fit problems. We needed to be within .25 inches or .5 inches because of the density of ceiling spaces and tight coordination with all the other systems. Thus far, we’ve realized incredible accuracy thanks to our 3D model-to-field workflow.”
The building exterior was completed in November 2013, and the CUP is scheduled to be operational by March 2014—just over two years after construction start, with the main structure expected to open in early 2015.