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AECbytes "Building the Future" Article (September 16, 2013)

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Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: An Advanced
Integration of the BIM Process at a Builder

Building the Future

Antonio Ruivo Meireles

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Innovation Manager, Mota-Engil
We have often seen Builders implementing BIM. But in reality, in most cases, it’s more of a Hollywood BIM than
BIM itself. What we’ve accomplished at Mota-Engil, a building company headquartered in Portugal, is a more

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advanced integration of the BIM process. This article describes how.
Mota-Engil is a 60 year old company, with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. Though the company has
several sub-holdings, construction represents about 80% of the total turnover. Last year (2012), its turnover
was of 2200M euros, and it has a presence in more than 20 countries.
Our BIM implementation strategy was divided into seven steps:
Benchmarking
Strategy Plans and Goals
People and Culture/Change
Process Definition
Choice of Software
Training
Pilots and Evaluation
All of the above steps are described in this article. Towards the end, the key pointers that emerged from our
own implementation that should be helpful to other construction firms adopting BIM are discussed. There is also
an extended discussion of the main benefits of BIM for a builder, based on our own experiences with it.

Benchmarking
To avoid re-inventing the wheel, we started off our BIM implementation with Benchmarking. We know that there
have been other companies who have struggled with their own processes and software, creating their own
workarounds and solutions, so it was really important that we try to learn from others and thus make a smaller
investment than we would have to otherwise. So we visited 15 to 20 international companies who were trying to
implement this methodology. The idea was to talk with them, communicate, share experiences, and avoid
repeating their mistakes. This was, of course, accompanied with a bibliographical study and a lot of research of
market studies to better understand what would be the best strategy plan to implement in Mota-Engil. This
process started 4 years ago.
We also made an internal Benchmarking study. We are a company with 60 years of history and a lot of
experience, but we are in an industry that doesn’t apply “a lot of science” in what it does. Builders are
sometimes seen more as “artists” and less as “scientists.”
Now that the technology is mature enough, we feel that it’s time to collect more data for better predictions and
forecasts. Though we have now more capability of processing data, we shouldn’t underestimate empirical
knowledge.
Our own benchmarking was made up of many interviews and analyzing internal processes—the real day-to-day
sequencing of work flow between different players in the company. This work-flow was laboriously documented
with the “swim-lane” technique. Then, a statistical study was undertaken on how much time each person took
on their own tasks. This was of great importance to try and predict later the ROI (Return on Investment) of
implementing BIM, especially on time-consuming and inefficient tasks.

2/6/2014 11:23 AM

Then we defined which software to buy.” to change mentalities and abandon the idea of building as an “art” and face it more as a “science.000 m2 hospital.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 2 of 9 http://www. Only after a year did we venture into a bigger real-life pilot. our standards had evolved into a 6th version. As mentioned earlier. and Time & Cost Control.” You really need someone in the company to keep the motivation up. in the company. Also. we create a program called SIGABIM and started the implementation. Cost. sharing. etc. We didn’t start off training everyone. even if simple ones in the beginning. the first thing we did was a small project with the focus on shop-drawings and how to extract them from the model. we tried to implement the processes of extracting shop-drawings and quantity take-off from part of the project. it’s very difficult to change an “artist” into a “scientist. Most of them are still with us. Here.html Home | Newsletter | Reviews | Features | Building the Future | Viewpoint | Tips and Tricks | Research Reports | VendorHub | Blog Subscribe | About | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use © 2003-2014 Lachmi Khemlani. AECbytes. We started with training about 10 people in June 2010. Strategy Plans and Goals The second step in our BIM Implementation was to define a Strategy Plan and our Goals. After the training. We proceeded to watch many demos and training videos before choosing the software itself. and Time. if you don’t have the support of the top-management levels.aecbytes. After this. But things are changing. The end of 2011 marked the start of some tests with BIM estimating. and are our internal consultants to other colleagues who are starting to use BIM. These were our champions in terms of modeling. which were very similar to our own. Empowerment. People and Culture/Change This was one of the most important aspects of our BIM implementation process. By the end of the pilot. ranging from 4000 to 15000 euros. What we thought was a linear process ended up being a recursive. we were aware of three important pillars: Coordination.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. Site Design by Vitalect Inc. Since the beginning. cyclical process of maturing during the pilot. are characteristics that are not very common in the construction business. All rights reserved.. it was very important to figure out what we needed and avoid incurring unwanted costs. and we had to go back-and-forth and correct the initial standards. We started by defining some standards. It was the construction of a 60. The problem is 2/6/2014 11:23 AM . Thus. BIM scheduling. This was a very interactive process. The culture and values of the organization must be aligned with the new approaches. we started with a pilot and focused on quantity-takeoff based on the model. since problems were found. with different prices. it is hard to implement BIM. We joined a knowledge international group that shared regularly their experiences. There are several software packages. After defining our goals. teamwork.

We found that each company in the field was developing its own standards.aecbytes. either for fear of being overtaken by the colleagues. In any case. If the extraction of quantities is your aim. Before initiating the process.html not methodology or technology—the main problem is changing mentalities. maybe you’ll need a higher level of detail. My approach was to manage these expectations and go for small wins.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 3 of 9 http://www. we have also developed our own standards. While it would be wonderful to have international standards. Technology ends up not being as mature enough as was expected. you can increase margins and efficiency right now.When? Choice of Software 2/6/2014 11:23 AM . I would also emphasize the importance of managing the expectations of the company. a lot of data processed. Separating what is real from what is a vision helps people avoid disillusionment and become more effective. If you only need the model for coordination. It is important to accept that not everyone will be receptive to new processes. In Mota-Engil. lack of time. What is the purpose? To what ends will the model be used? What is the level of detail needed? When should the models be delivered—the model progression specification? We really care about costs in Mota-Engil. one needs to first decide: Goals . and everyone knows the inputs into the BIM database and the outputs that can be obtained. one must first define goals. So again. Like one might read in the Gartner Research’s Hype Curve Model. It should be understood that behind many BIM demonstrational videos. information overload (such as an abundance of e-mails going around).How? Model Progression Specification . With BIM. we work with what we have.For what? Level of Detail . If the model is needed for detailed shop-drawings. there is a lot of work. for now.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. perhaps you’ll need an even higher level of detail in your model. and many people interacting with different developing software with their own learning curve. usually based on a technology trigger. and would like to avoid money being wasted because we didn’t think beforehand of the purpose of the model. or a general lack of motivation. chances are you’ll need a very low detailed model. At this stage. what is real is exciting enough. Process Definition The 4th step in our implementation was what we referred to as the Process Definition. it’s a huge mistake to inflate expectations.

com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. Another point worth mentioning is that our ArchiCAD model is linked to Vico Office through several formulae that connect every object of the model with the line items of the Bill of Quantity. Solibri and Vico Software. we are always conscious that Mota-Engil is present in different countries with their own standards.aecbytes. so an awareness of creating something useful across borders is always present. we can abbreviate this to two to three days. For instance. we will end up with separate departments targeting different goals. We also know that a simple Bill of Quantities (BOQ) in the US may follow a different standard than in Europe. after working with BIM for a while. I’ll venture to say that Excel is an essential BIM tool! When we develop our standards and methodologies. Our own advanced algorithms. bringing along more inefficiency. resulting in greater efficiency and cost saving. They should have knowledge of shop-drawings.html As mentioned earlier. we have an Advanced Content Plan that gives us quantity takeoff based in formulas that use takeoff items that resulted in the combination of model objects.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 4 of 9 http://www. Africa. These can be done laboriously. and error-free way. the training should be oriented to producing a multi-functional/multiskilled team. With this. estimating. With our tools. We chose some commercial applications like ArchiCAD. If not. We felt the need to develop our own Excel-based Macro tools to optimize or improve the process. Pilots and Evaluation 2/6/2014 11:23 AM . The bigger the project. the more we use these tools. The algorithm we developed creates these formulae in a more efficient. based in Visual Basic. extracting quantities. guarantee better quality and efficiency in the process. or Latin America. Training For BIM implementation in construction. software should be chosen only after identifying what is needed and what the process would be. In all the presentations I’ve seen on BIM implementation. we can also compare our quantities with the ones calculated in VICO and ensure the quality of the exported model from ArchiCAD. and manually (thus susceptible to error). with all the formulae to connect to the quantities of the model would normally take two to three weeks. To make a BOQ. scheduling. faster. and time and cost control. But it didn’t end there. I always notice the MS Excel visible among the various software icons.

Here you should ask the following questions: What is the Goal? Who will be involved? When they will be involved? Where we will implement this? With this BIM Roadmap in hand. Study the potential return on investment. Then we introduced 4D Time Scheduling and Control. and giving training in modeling. define your BIM Task Group.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. If you involve true BIM experts in your implementation and discuss your experiences with them.” Your group must also accept that there are sometimes bugs in the software. you can have a detailed model to better understand the project. etc. Next. This is an interactive. what the 2D drawings convey. is a very important one that is difficult to quantify. define a BIM Roadmap. It’s really important to achieve your Board’s whole-hearted interest and support. These may not necessarily be the most experienced. We started off our pilots in 2010 with only the 3D BIM up to middle of 2011. It’s not possible to have a good schedule without a good model and it’s not possible to have a good estimate and cash-flow forecast without a good schedule. To make things more complex. If you don’t have this kind of sponsorship. it will be easy to understand and remember the difficulty sometimes to communicate. step-by-step approach is the best way to implement BIM. so patience is also important. It’s a one step at a time process. discuss strategies. but look for fresh bright minds. are as follows: Better Communication Optimized Crews Problem Identification and Resolution Design Optimization Shop Drawings Quantity Extraction and Cost Estimation Better scheduling and risk mitigation The first benefit. make an assessment of your project. train them and start with a small pilot project. Define a BIM Strategy Group. All managers like numbers and wish to know why we’re investing money and what will be the return of the money. working your way up. In the end. After defining the BIM group. you should place some stress as in a real project. sequencing of works. in meetings. 2/6/2014 11:23 AM . But even though it’s a pilot. Try to avoid reinventing the wheel.” growing process. there are usually a lot of these 2D designs. based on our own experiences with it. in a couple of months. Only in 2012 did we start to implement the 5D Cost process of BIM. Avoid barriers and develop internal BIM standards when there aren’t any national standards.aecbytes. Study these points and define your target. But for all those who have some construction site experience. I would like to reiterate the step-by-step process. you will implement everything faster and with less risk. A methodical.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 5 of 9 http://www. Main Benefits for a Builder The main benefits of this integrated BIM implementation for a construction company. while still evolving on the 3D. better communication. Select the right people. With BIM.html While I have already described our approach to pilot projects in the “Strategy Plans and Goals” section. your team will die. Key Pointers These are the key pointers that have emerged from our BIM implementation strategy and they should be helpful to other construction firms looking to adopt BIM: Have a good BIM Evangelist in your company. that think “out of the box. Remember this is not a simple sequential process. “rewriting.

aecbytes. and fewer on site. we believe that.html The second benefit relates to optimized crews. we had people working only on very specific jobs in the whole process. The third benefit is Problem Identification and its Resolution. but we are saving around 80% of rework due to identifying problems beforehand. It’s much easier to clarify our intentions to a client when we have a proposal for an optimized solution accompanied with a model. Though difficult to prove. This does not involve firing people. but instead. we could save 1% to 2% of the costs on site. or scheduling. We conducted a small study in Mota-Engil about crew composition. with a mature BIM crew. A fourth benefit is Design Optimization.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 6 of 9 http://www. re-qualifying our workers. Earlier. Now. This 80% value was given to us by some of our senior site directors. estimation. we need multiskilled people working in different areas like quantity takeoff. What we will have in the future are engineers that can manage data in a holistic way. I mean we could have more people in the office managing data. By this. 2/6/2014 11:23 AM .com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. We’ve never done the same building twice. so it’s not scientifically proven.

even with a medium level of detail. we can safely say that a 20% gain in the total duration of the construction has been achieved. better cost estimates and better scheduling will result in risk mitigation. Of course. the errors were human made. 2/6/2014 11:23 AM .Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 7 of 9 http://www.000€. but were based or errors done in the modeling. we extracted a BIM based Bill of Quantities and compared it to the one derived using the traditional way. In a 15000m2 construction site. This highlights the fact that we only need quality checking processes that guarantee the quality and consistency of your data. We at Mota-Engil. This was done for thousands of lines and then we went on to study the differences. a site could represent 10% of the cost. From our experience in pilot projects and in discussing with our partners. On the list of benefits is also Better Scheduling. Either way. and the way it automatically updates all drawings. I would say that quantity extraction is the basis of what any Builder will execute. develop scheduling based on Model quantities. Logically. the differences we found were not due to software bugs or incapacities.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. The measuring itself is done much quicker. more reliable and error proof. This gives us true 4D BIM. with the proportional saving in site costs. in a methodology called Line of Balance. Tests have assured us that the model gives us error margins below 5% for most trades. This 20% gain in duration would reflect in saving 200. So in a 10M€ site. The sixth benefit is Quantity Extraction and Cost Estimation. But everything that is true of BIM for estimation can and should be extrapolated for scheduling. after a change is made in the model. we’re using the Line of Balance methodology.aecbytes. location related. with our BIM projects. This is one of the points most people agree with. which is normal.html The fifth benefit is Shop Drawings. The interesting part was that due to our internal modeling rules. Scheduling is still currently done based on “gut feeling” and less on data. and how easy it is to extract them. we can say that the better the accuracy of the quantity takeoff. the better the estimation and scheduling will be. As I’ve mentioned above. compared to the more traditional manual way. They could also be attributed to the quantity surveyor. important for the estimation and for scheduling. we found out that he used an approximate number in some of the cases due to lack of time.

in the traditional CPM method. For the last six years. Histogram Resources.” Take advantage of the knowledge gathered by experts that have empirically “suffered” all the typical pioneer implementation pains. and is currently pursuing a Ph. the quicker you become more competitive and more efficient. This way. About the Author Antonio Ruivo Meireles is the Innovation Manager of Mota-Engil. and Earned Value Analysis for our Top Management. one can see all logical sequencing of tasks that. Mota-Engil’s Innovation Platform. He has a degree in Civil Engineering (2005). would take several long sheets that few could comprehend. you won’t regret it and you’ll see the return of the investment right in the first year of implementation. You should not worry about the amount of investment involved because if you do it in a conscientious way.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil.D. InnovCenter. This is true 5D BIM. you’ll implement everything faster and with less risk. Use the mantra of “don’t reinvent the wheel. The faster you implement it. I see BIM as a huge opportunity for the construction sector. is one of his most successful initiatives and was one of ten recipients awarded the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) 2011 Intranet Design Award. In one small sheet of paper. All of these are enriched with a BIM based schedule and estimate. He is focused on the improvement of the construction industry through the development of knowledge as well as efficient and innovation-driven processes. We are testing some indicators based on S curves. in Construction Management. in parallel to being the Innovation Manager of 2/6/2014 11:23 AM . I have seen the results and they speak for themselves. a MBA in Corporate Management (2007).aecbytes.html We found that the Line of Balance based discussion clarifies problems and options.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 8 of 9 http://www. Our next step is to work with the owners to help them move towards the goal of 6DBIM: Facility Management. Conclusion In conclusion.

He is also an independent consultant and has been invited to be a speaker at several international conferences. AECbytes content should not be reproduced on any other website. an initiative where most of the large construction companies.Say “NO!” to Hollywood BIM: AECbytes "Building the Future" Article 9 of 9 Mota-Engil. Blog Have comments or feedback on this article? Visit its AECbytes blog posting to share them with other readers or see what others have to say. print publication.com/buildingthefuture/2013/BIM_MotaEngil. and universities. he has been empowering stakeholders of http://www.aecbytes. 2/6/2014 11:23 AM .html the Construction Industry to use BIM and lean construction methods so as to deliver integrated construction services more efficiently and productively. or newsletter without permission. owners. with the goal of disseminating the advantages of BIM and boosting its use. designers. He is leading the BIMFórum Portugal. have a seat. as well as the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering. His work has been the basis of a case study for several publications and whitepapers. blog.