O'Reilly Concrete, Ireland's leading precast concrete manufacturer, moved from 2D design to 3D design over ten years ago. By incorporating Tekla software from Trimble into its business, O'Reilly Concrete has been saving an impressive amount of time and money. With an unrivaled track record in design and build construction projects, along with its complete range of precast concrete solutions, O'Reilly Concrete is one of the largest and leading precast manufacturers in Ireland and the UK. Established in the early 1930s, the manufacturer provides precast concrete solutions to all different sectors of the Irish construction industry, including education, healthcare, industrial and infrastructure.
Like most manufacturers in the past, O’Reilly Concrete produced all of its designs and fabrication drawings using 2D CAD software. However, with the company dedicated to researching new products to increase its range, it knew it had to upgrade its software. In 2005, O’Reilly Concrete decided to move to 3D design by adopting Tekla Structures in its drawing office. The knowledge to develop improved precast solutions is one of the key differentiators for O’Reilly Concrete, with 3D design allowing them to deliver projects more efficiently to clients than 2D tools.
Why change from 2D to 3D?
Richard Kowalski, Technical Director at O’Reilly Concrete, said: “Prior to incorporating Tekla software within the business, we employed traditional 2D design methods; these were slow and time consuming. We used 2D CAD software for fabrication drawings, which meant that there was no link between GA drawings and individual cast unit drawings, and any alterations made in the general design had to be changed manually on the production drawings – and any late changes made to a design from the architects or engineers resulted in mistakes and time delays."
“After a lot of market research, we made the decision to implement Tekla Structures as our main design package. Tekla Structures is a very clever piece of software, as you can view the future development in a 3D model and identify and correct all design clashes. It also finds potential sections where the design could be improved, which is not possible in 2D, as well as helping to split a building into precast elements, create accurate drawings and help you to manage transport, the erection of the building and all of the design processes.”
“When we purchased Tekla Structures, we received training on the software, which was quite intensive and at the time, we thought it was a lot to absorb in a short period. Nevertheless, when we started using the software we realised how easy and self-explanatory it was to use – you learn as you go, so in all honesty the learning process was quite fast. At first we didn’t use all of the automated tools that Tekla Structures offers, but it was brilliant to see exactly how a building was going to be built, how our connections featured in the design and to show our installers the sequence of the erection.”
New way of working reduces the program time
O’Reilly Concrete fully utilized the software on, at the time, one of the biggest residential developments in Dublin: Adamstown. Richard said:
“Using the software on this project was a completely new way of working for our drawing office, but it did come with a lot of benefits and time-savings. In fact, we managed to reduce the program of Adamstown from 20 weeks to 16 weeks and reduced design errors by 80 per cent. These savings were made mainly in the design and detailing phase; if the 3D model was correct then the production drawings generated directly from the model, were accurate too.
The 3D model also allowed for any late changes to be accommodated easily and update all of the drawings. With a model based process we avoided a lot of drilling and coring on site, which was quite common when we were working in 2D.”
When O’Reilly Concrete started using Tekla, it already had its own company-specific standard connections and details created for precast production. The functionality within Tekla Structures enabled these to be accurately replicated. Richard continued: “It is always beneficial to create any custom components and macros that are used repeatedly as it really helps with time-savings.”
Complete transparency across project teams
In addition to its constructible Building Information Modeling software, Trimble also offers a free viewing product, which allows everyone on the project to look at the building and check the designs. O’Reilly Concrete quickly recognized the potential of using this software as a project and production management tool. “The 3D model, which all project stakeholders can easily view on Tekla's mobile tools, is a graphical representation of the huge database of information, which sits behind the model in Tekla Structures,” says Richard. “With Tekla Structures we can easily create visual reports that tell us when each particular element was designed, manufactured, delivered to site and then finally erected.
We originally used Tekla's mobile tool as a production-tracking tool and a few years ago we also introduced the software into our offices for people who are not strictly in design. Now our project, quality control and transport managers, as well as our fitting crews can all view the model before they go to site.
“It’s a very useful piece of software that allows everyone on the project to keep track of the design and production. We also use color coding on the model to show the progression of a project to our client enabling them to see where the project is at all stages. Tekla software has indeed become a center point of project organization for our company.”
“At first we only purchased two licenses for Tekla Structures, as we weren’t completely aware of what the benefits of using 3D tools were. However, after quickly realizing the many benefits, we purchased four extra licenses. Looking back, I wish we had started with more licenses to make the transition from 2D to 3D quicker.”
Richard Kowalski, Technical Director
Helping to secure contract wins
In addition to Tekla software allowing O’Reilly Concrete to show its existing customers the progression of a project in detail, the software has also acted as a sales tool and has helped the company to win projects. One example is the Waterford project, which originally had no precast within the building at all. O’Reilly Concrete helped the design team to improve the original program and design. By working closely with the architect and design team, the company was able to prepare a completely new, precast proposal, which led them to successfully win the job.
Enhanced communication and beneficial collaboration
Although O’Reilly Concrete has been using 3D software to design and manage projects for many years, the company completed its first BIM project in 2014, where all of the information was exchanged using 3D IFC models. This was during a time when the industry was still learning about the new ways of digital construction. “All of the design parties were using different software, but sent IFC models to the main contractor’s BIM coordinator, who then combined the models to check for clashes and create reports. We did experience a few data exchange problems at the beginning, but it was a learning curve for everyone involved and in the end, the project was a real success.”
On this project, O’Reilly Concrete managed to save a lot of time, as it didn’t have to produce hundreds of 2D drawings to communicate with other design parties because the IFC model was exported to check against other design elements. What’s more, exchanging information with IFC was a huge step forward for coordination between M&E, precast and structural design and detailing teams.
Another example is an 11-storey residential building in Dublin, which O’Reilly Concrete worked on in 2015. For this project, it supplied complete structural precast frames for the building and worked alongside another precast manufacturer that was supplying architectural cladding panels for the project. Both companies used Tekla Structures to design the building. This was particularly beneficial as they could coordinate all of the connections between the architectural and structural precast, plan the erection process and deliver and exchange information easily. A combined precast model was then sent as an IFC model to the engineer and the architect for review and approval.
Richard concludes: “At O’Reilly Concrete, we don’t only just use Tekla Structures and Tekla's mobile tools, we also use Tekla Structural Designer and Tekla Tedds and our future plan is to integrate Tekla software more into our production planning and management process. We are currently researching suitable ERP package to create a robust, bi-directional link between Tekla software and the ERP software to be able to transfer data directly from model into production."
“If you have already invested in a package like Tekla Structures, it would be a waste of potential and a waste of investment not to use it to its full extent. From my point of view, the only way is to keep driving forward; always be ahead of the game in terms of solutions efficiency and technology. The technology has not been designed to replace people, it has been designed to make companies work quicker and importantly, more efficiently.”