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O'Reilly team stood together onsite in front of precast structruct

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 – and has been saving an impressive amount of time and money ever since. 

High quality precast solutions faster with Tekla software

With an unrivalled 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.

BIM and Tekla Structures add value

  • Recognize possible worksite problems in advance
  • Managing quantities and materials
  • Combining data
  • Direct information transfer between engineering, production and site
  • Optimizing execution times

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.

Aerial view of Stewart School in Cork under construction

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.

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 realising 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 at O’Reilly Concrete

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.

Tekla Structures model showing colour coded sequence of erection

A new way of working reduces the programme time

O’Reilly Concrete fully utilised 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 programme 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.

Cranes on site lifting precast wall panels into position

Complete transparency across project teams

In addition to its constructible Building Information Modelling software, Trimble also offers a free viewing product, Tekla BIMsight, which allows everyone on the project to look at the building and check the designs. O’Reilly Concrete quickly recognised 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 BIMsight, is a graphical representation of the huge database of information, which sits behind the model in Tekla Structures, says Richard.

O'Reilly Concrete onsite, steel props are lined up against precast wall panels

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 BIMsight 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 the colour 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 centre point of project organisation for our company.

Colour coding on the Trimble Connect model

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 programme 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.

Aerial view of Primary Care Facility in Dublin under construction

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 BIMSight, 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.

Precast slabs piled in production yard being loaded onto a lorry

Want to know more? Watch our FREE webinar from O'Reilly Concrete: Better precast solutions, faster evolution from 2D to BIM

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