When thinking about waste in the construction industry, several things may come to mind: labor hours, materials, time spent correcting design errors, etc. With its 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) software and structural panelized system, Prescient has developed an integration platform to lessen these types of waste in the design and construction process. The company is making massive strides in making construction, from design to installation, better, faster, and more cost-effective.
Prescient’s software is the beginning of what sets them apart. The company’s use of BIM software, a 3D automation design of the Prescient structure from start to finish, allows any potential mistakes to be fixed at the design stage rather than onsite. “As the architect is designing the building and laying out the programming, they’re integrating the structure of the building—which is our panelized system—and the software will actually, once that initial design is done, automatically create the 3D model,” explains John Vanker, founder of Prescient. This type of design, called “model-centric design,” enables all the stakeholders in a project to be involved with the process and work within the model to do 3D construction.
VIRTUAL REVOLUTION IN DESIGN
BIM is not a new tool in construction; the UK has used such software for several years before it made an appearance stateside. While BIM grows in popularity in the U.S., there is something specifically distinct that sets Prescient apart from other companies offering this service; “BIM models are extremely expensive to produce, very time consuming, and often inaccurate. Our model is automated during the design process. It’s produced automatically by our software,” Vanker explains. Not only does this feature improve accuracy, it compresses design time.
The design process, especially when it comes to drafting-centric design, is slow and time consuming; “People talk about waste during construction; innumerable hours are wasted during design,” Vanker says. “I’ve experienced in my career a waste of 10-15 percent on these projects partially because, in the design phase, there’s a lot of time spent redoing design, engineering, and planning. If you’re in a value engineering session with a group of project stakeholders, you’re trying to fix something in the design that’s already not working; it’s either not constructible, not economically viable, or it’s overdesigned, so you’re value engineering backwards. You’ve already wasted all that time.”
Stakeholders can marginalize that type of waste through model-centric design with Prescient’s software. They can pinpoint a clash or conflict in the design process, before the construction ever begins, reducing risk and waste of resources. “One of the things our industry struggles with is the design process. What our platform enables is to compress the design schedule and move more of the specification detailing of that design into the front end of the process,” says Vanker.
STRUCTURAL PANELING SYSTEM
Once the architect has designed the building and Prescient’s software has developed the 3D model, Prescient can provide a precise bill of materials. “What we can do is give that hard budget number very early on in the process. From that bill of materials, we also integrate, via our software, our manufacturing process. It’s ‘CAD to CAM,’—computer aided design to computer aided manufacturing. We’re taking the architect’s drawing, pulling a bill of materials, and manufacturing the building in an integrated process via our software,” says Vanker.
Prescient delivers its standardized panelized system—made of cold-rolled steel—straight to the jobsite, where the company has partner installers waiting on scene to install the structure. Each component has an address associating it with a point on the grid, as per the design; this ensures every component goes exactly where it’s supposed to with no cutting, no guessing, and no mix-ups. Components are also stickered with a QR code, enabling whomever scans it to identify the component, the component’s installation information, and the component’s value.
“What we’re doing is delivering a turnkey solution for the structure. We’re not only manufacturing it, we’re partnering in the installation as well, to ensure our customers—the general contractor and the owner—that the job’s going to be done by, effectively, one entity,” says Vanker. This helps to reduce risk and increase savings.
COMPLICATIONS OF USING TECH
The downfall to using technology like BIM and 3D modeling is whether multi-platform configuration is available. Is a certain software Mac and PC compatible? Is it mobile and, if so, can it be used on iOS and Android platforms? Not every stakeholder will be on the same platform and some won’t know how to work alternative software and/or won’t be willing to change software. Prescient has a solution. “We can provide the model in just about any different file format or viewer format that’ll read 3D. We work with other stakeholders doing modeling sessions where we fit in computer drawings and how they work with our structural models. We do the clash, do the conflict detection,” says Vanker.
This availability of cross-platform information mitigates the technological struggles associated with BIM and 3D modeling. Prescient is developing a mobile app that is in the first stages now. The app currently allows the QR code scans on the components, as previously mentioned. Vanker says, “That’s just version one of our application. We hope to eventually be able to sit in the office and watch the building, watch that model actually being built, as those parts are scanned when they’re installed.”
Prescient is currently at work on Hyatt House at Belmar, a 135-room, 96,000-square-foot hotel, which will include a podium level and five stories. The hotel is slated to open in 2016. Through the model-centric design process, Prescient compressed the design time; however, Vanker says, “As we go forward and people learn how to work with our system and our model, [as people] become more engaged in model-centric design, I believe we’re going to be able to compress the design process significantly and yield a more detailed and buildable result.” ■
For More Information: Prescient is a technology and manufacturing company specializing in structural panelized systems and BIM 3D modeling. For more information, visit www.prescientco.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2015
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