Barton Malow Improves Concrete Construction Efficiency with 3D Modeling
Companies across North America call on Barton Malow to build some of the most technically challenging projects. Founded in 1924 and headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, the construction services company with $1 billion revenue delivers projects building trust and ensuring safety, quality and productivity. Employing their own builders and utilizing technologies like Building Information Modeling (BIM), Barton Malow is a successful contractors in education, energy, federal, healthcare, industrial and manufacturing and special event facilities.
No looking back to 2D
Barton Malow has long used Tekla software for construction management but in 2012 the Resteel department, responsible for rebar detailing and fabrication, decided to investigate whether Tekla would offer their team more capabilities and efficiencies than 2D drawings.
“After working with Tekla Structures for a month, we decided to move forward with it and haven’t looked back,” said Matt Hedke, Barton Malow’s Resteel Fabrication Manager. “It didn’t take long to see the benefits for Barton Malow and our clients. Tekla is definitely a construction BIM solution that’s geared toward the contractor and the company prides themselves on understanding what we do. No other software provider is as advanced as Tekla, especially with cast-in-place concrete and rebar modeling. We knew there would be a learning curve, but we embraced it because we knew the end result was where were wanted to be.”
15 percent efficiency gain
In less than a year, Barton Malow already saw the benefits of Tekla, including impressive efficiency gains upwards of 15 percent.
As Tekla has an application programming interface (Open API™) the Barton Malow team could customize Tekla for their own needs. For example, they have developed templates to create automated assembly tags, which provide instructions on how to pre-tie a cage to improve rebar placement efficiency. Tekla USA have localized the software to include a Rebar Release Manager to help to keep track of rebar releases and associate them with particular concrete pours.
We’re seeing incredible results and we’re just getting started,” said Hedke, “There is a tremendous amount of customization this software allows us to do. The local Tekla support team has been extremely supportive and responsive in helping Barton Malow understand how to get the most out of the software and to become proficient in using it.”
Beneficial, accurate details
Barton Malow finds the Tekla tools for scheduling columns and detailing slabs, base plates and stirrups particularly effective for improving efficiencies as the team can rapidly add detail to drawings.
-“Before Tekla, we simply didn’t have the time or the tools to easily add this depth of detail,” said Hedke. “Our focus was on detailing the rebar rather than the various components of the concrete object. Tekla allows us to see in 3D how everything will fit together and if we will run into clashes or interferences.”
- “Since we self-perform many different trades and disciplines, it just makes sense that we should know exactly how things like embedded iron and anchor bolts fit with the rebar before the construction phase,” said Hedke. “We also share the Tekla 3D model with the field project manager and crews, so they have an accurate reference for their work. The operations personnel are using this information to plan pours.”
Information flow from design to fabrication
Tekla allows Barton Malow to reuse the models that other project parties create and simply add concrete and rebar. As Tekla supports a wide variety of file formats, the team can use and share the models with engineers and trades, and combine various models for a complete view.
- “Tekla truly enables collaboration during the design phase and on the job site,” said Hedke.
The model is not just a tool for drawings and coordination though. To gain the full potential of the software, Barton Malow tied the model to their fabrication software, Shear97.
- “We were able to model bars, create drawings and send all the information directly to our fabrication system,” said Hedke. “If the model is correct we know the drawings are as well and we know we’re fabricating exactly and only what is needed for the job.”
Modeling the challenging Karn/Weadock Power Plant
Barton Malow designed and build two cast-in-place concrete silos and equipment and building foundations totaling almost 10,000 cubic meters (13,000 cubic yards) of concrete for Consumers Energy’s Karn/Weadock Power Plant in Michigan. This contract was part of a larger project to install air quality control equipment to help the company meet future environmental regulations. The design for the silos was particularly complex and the timeframe was aggressive.
Each silo has 10 lifts, a lower composite slab, a roof composite slab and a four-foot thick structural slab, all cast in place, plus as many as 40 different openings of which some are round, others square and many placed at challenging angles. In addition, sleeves of varying diameters bisect the silos either perpendicular to the wall or at a 45 degree angle, and the rebar splices are staggered.
- “Barton Malow’s use of Tekla allowed them to efficiently coordinate structure openings and embedments with equipment vendors and align with the unique requirements of the silos at our site,” said Corietta Meeks, Consumers Energy Construction Manager. “This was crucial in executing the work quickly within a small footprint.”
Visualizing the silos
- “Once we modeled the silos in Tekla, we quickly discovered the current design would have been extremely difficult to fabricate and install,” said Doug Demongey, Barton Malow’s re-steel detailer. “We took snapshots of the Tekla 3D model—instead of drawing a sketch or typing out a multi-paragraph explanation—to illustrate the conflicts between the openings, sleeves and rebar. The engineer immediately saw the problem, which allowed us to work with him to find a solution that would benefit both parties. If I had done this in 2D, I might not have caught it.”
-“For visualization, you just can’t beat a Tekla model,” said Demongey. “If you show the design engineer a 3D image of an interaction issue accompanied by a brief explanation, he sees exactly what the problem is. I can’t stress how important that is to overall job efficiency.”
After Demongey modeled the concrete and rebar, he published the model to Tekla BIMsight, so that the field staff could access it. The field project manager used the model to order the correct amount of concrete for each pour.
- “We saw huge benefits using Tekla, especially how the openings and sleeves interacted with our steel,” said Hedke. “With all of the variables in the silo design, I’m not sure we would have been able to do it as accurately without it.”
Avoiding interferences with BIM at DTE Echo Wind Farm Project
Barton Malow chose Tekla to design the two types of wind turbine foundations for the Detroit Edison Energy (DTE) Echo Wind Farm. Once the engineering team completed the design, Hedke’s team modeled the foundation rebar, concrete and anchor bolts.
Each foundation was reinforced by anchor bolts arranged in two concentric circles with the top mat reinforcing bisecting each bolt. It was critical to identify potential interference to ensure the spacing would work in practice as on the engineer’s design. The Tekla model revealed several interferences between the anchor bolts and top mat reinforcing.
- “After the rebar clashes were corrected, we could rapidly generate accurate placing drawings,” said Demongey. “We also specified how to bundle the steel, so that it would be easy to distribute at the job site.”
Constructable models benefit the site
Each placing crew was given a drawing depicting their area with exact spacing and sequencing information. This information was easily extracted from the Tekla model.
- “Because the models were so accurate, we were able to take the dimensions from the model to show where each wind turbine would fit on the jobsite,” said Hedke. “The Tekla model showed us the conflicts, which we corrected early on so that by the time we got to the construction phase, it was very organized, very well put together.”
Working fast with 3D modeling
In addition to designing the foundations, Barton Malow put in roads to each wind turbine site, dug the foundations, placed the rebar, erected and set anchor bolt cages, formed the foundations, placed and finished the foundations and erected the turbines – all on an extremely tight schedule. They poured two foundations each day to meet the schedule.
- “With a compressed schedule and a challenging site, accuracy and a clear understanding of what you’re doing becomes critical,” said Hedke. “After the first foundation went in, we got feedback from the field saying it couldn’t have gone any better. After that, it was just a matter duplicating the process. Taking the time to model the concrete and rebar detail in Tekla really paid off on the backend to meet our installation schedule.”
More efficient process
Even though the Barton Malow team was new to Tekla, they saw a 10-15 percent reduction in man-hours per project just for rebar detailing. This efficiency gain is reinvested in the job to incorporate more information into the model.
- “I predict that we will see our efficiency gains increase even more as we become more proficient with Tekla,” said Hedke.
Chuck Binkowski, Vice President of Barton Malow, credits Tekla with improving efficiencies in the firm’s self-perform work and helping it win more business.
- “Barton Malow has a long-term goal of doubling our efficiency by 2024—our 100-year anniversary,” said Binkowski. “It’s clear to me that partnering with Tekla advances our leadership position in the industry and will be instrumental in helping us achieve our efficiency goals. Our customers expect this of us and that’s what we want to deliver.”