UNIFI is arguably most well-known throughout the AECO industry for increasing efficiency throughout the design phases of a project. In addition to designers, we also have contractors on our platform who has seen value in utilizing UNIFI for their design-build or self-perform work.
But what value can we bring to general contractors and construction managers? Well, we think we have quite a bit to offer for the GC’s and CM’s who are striving for more data-driven processes to help with construction site logistics.
UNIFI has taken on the challenge of making it easy for superintendents, project managers, and project engineers (i.e., team members who aren’t a VDC coordinator) to work directly in Revit to “design” their construction sites, all while creating a usable dataset which can inform estimates, construction schedules, and coordination.
Challenges of Construction Logistics Planning
Every construction site is unique due to building design and the location of the jobsite. This can impose significant risks when disrupting the surrounding city such as impacting traffic and introducing safety hazards when the site logistics aren’t planned properly.
Some construction site logistics are relatively easy to plan, however large projects in dense urban environments require a solid construction site logistics plan. Just imagine the number of subcontractors on-site, most of which would need their own laydown yard and staging area.
I think we can all agree that lack of control at the construction site and inferior planning can lead to material losses and extra costs, as well as hazards for workers on site.How are contractors doing construction logisitics planning today?
It is very common to see construction site logistics being planning using 2D markups on a PDF (or basic shapes drawn in CAD). This workflow has been the de facto standard for years which has the obvious benefit of ease of use for the superintendents, project managers, or project engineers who may not be tech-savvy.
The downside of this method is that because these drafting exercises are typically produced on PDFs or CAD files, they produce very little structured data, if any. Quantity takeoffs and estimates can be extracted using powerful tools like Bluebeam and AutoCAD, however this data is often replicated elsewhere for estimates or construction scheduling.
One risk of using a static PDF throughout the preconstruction phases is the iterative nature of the design models. The building design is constantly changing, even throughout the construction phases. With that being said, there is a risk of planning construction site logistics on a static PDF or CAD export due to the drawing being disconnected from the design model.
UNIFI helps with Construction Logistics Planning
The concept of leveraging BIM data during site logistics planning seems to be a no-brainer, however, there is typically a major challenge in ease-of-use for the non-VDC team members such as superintendents, project managers, and project engineers.
The good news is, UNIFI’s suite of tools and services focus on simplifying the process of modeling construction sites in Revit, as well as making BIM data easier to consume for team members of any technical skill level.
UNIFI Pro Makes it Easy to Find and use Revit Families
UNIFI Pro, our cloud-based content management system, is mostly known for increasing efficiency during the design phases of a project. Perhaps we can start to look at construction site logistics planning as a “design phase” for the superintendent, project manager, and project engineer. I mean, they are technically “designing” the layout of their construction site.
These non-VDC stakeholders often have limited knowledge of Revit, which is why it is common for them to turn to a PDF markup. If your goal is to implement more data-centric processes, perhaps PDFs for logistics planning is a workflow that can be improved by using BIM.
UNIFI Pro makes it as easy to plan construction site logistics in Revit by giving users of any technical skill level easy-to-use tools. The animation below is an example of what it looks like to model a construction site using UNIFI’s basic search and loading functionality.
While watching the video loop above, keep in mind that every element placed in the model can be considered a bucket of data, which can contain any amount of parameters to help you with cost estimates, construction scheduling, ownership information, product data, and more.
Easily review BIM Data as You Plan your Site Logistics
Once your site logistics are modeled in Revit, our Project Analytics tool will help you gain visibility into the model data without any additional add-ins, custom Dynamo graphs, or inefficient workflows. Typically, a VDC coordinator would have to generate a PDF or export a schedule to help the non-VDC team members review model data, however, anytime you disconnect data from the model, you’re at risk of referencing outdated information.
Although much of the insights in Project Analytics are useful for VDC managers (for monitoring model health and quality), the ability to review live Revit model data can prove to be useful for construction site logistics planning as well. Keep in mind that this data is refreshed anytime a user syncs, so the risk of having outdated information is eliminated.
With this live BIM data readily available through any web browser, all team members have the ability to review model data without opening the model or asking the VDC coordinator to export the data.
Gain visibility of Revit Model Data Without Opening the Revit Model.
In the screenshot below, you can see that quantities can be easily reviewed in a web browser using Project Analytics. In this example, you can see how much fencing is required for the jobsite which is just one example of how live BIM data can inform your estimating and procurement processes.
In addition to the quantities displayed here, don’t forget that you can incorporate any amount of data in this families including cost parameters, manufacturer or vendor information, and/or construction phases.
Although Revit Spaces are typically used for engineering calculations, they can also come in handy for construction site logistics plans. These spaces can be easily color-coded in Revit, which include an automatically generated legend. Spaces can also contain any sort of data that you like, much more than a simple rectangle marked up on a PDF.
If you were to model the laydown yards and staging areas as Revit Spaces, you’ll have the ability to easily review the square footage or square meters in Project Analytics. In addition, you’ll have the ability to add parameters to these spaces, giving you yet another bucket to hold your site logistics data.
I hope this post has inspired you to evaluate your current construction logistics planning processes and identify areas of improvements. By generating BIM data rather than drawings in the early phases of planning your construction site, you can take your logistics plans to the next level with data that can inform your 4D construction schedules, cost estimates, and more. You’ll even have the option to generate a pretty picture to boot!
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