Tekla Levels the Playing Field for Adjustable Forms
Adjustable Forms is known for its expertise with the large-scale, cast-in-place concrete structures used in high-rise office buildings, hotels, condominiums and parking garages in the Chicago area. Its field leadership and workforce are adept at using industry-leading technology such as 3D Modeling, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and field equipment to complete challenging concrete projects with aggressive schedules under difficult conditions while providing the highest level of quality and the strongest commitment to safety.
The 80-year-old, 250-employee company began investigating 3D Modeling and BIM software in 2009. After considering all of the options, Adjustable Forms choose Tekla Structures for its straightforward, rapid modeling tools, its specialization in concrete construction, and its ability to run well on moderately-equipped workstations.
“Tekla is the only BIM tool specifically geared towards what we do – a detailed data-driven construction BIM solution; not what we refer to as ‘Design BIM’,” said Eric Lindquist, Project Manager. “For us, it’s not how great the model looks; it’s what kind of information we can extract to improve our competitive position and operations. Within the first few months of using Tekla, we overwhelmingly agreed that we made the right decision.”
It was also important for Lindquist to choose a vendor who was enthusiastic about having his business and would treat him as a partner.
“It’s refreshing to work with a software vendor that asks for my feedback,” said Lindquist. “I give it to them, and more often than not, the next release incorporates our suggestions.”
Adjustable Forms uses Tekla Structures to streamline many of their business operations, from estimating and construction to resolving drawing plan conflicts with the general contractor, managing subcontractors and communicating with field staff.
Using Tekla to Instill Confidence and Win Business
Adjustable Forms uses Tekla to produce accurate bids, a practice that has given them a competitive edge to win more business. Working from 2D CAD design drawings, a PDF or a 3D model supplied by the design engineer, the firm creates a preconstruction 3D model in Tekla and extracts material quantity information.
“We do all of our quantity takeoff/extraction from the preconstruction model to ensure the scope is correct,” said Lindquist. “We extract the quantities and import them into an estimating tool, which allows us to develop accurate estimates for bidding jobs, minimizing the risk of blowing an estimate based on miscalculated quantities. Modeling in Tekla gives us absolute clarity of the project and allows for a streamlined workflow in all phases of the project.”
The firm also uses the preconstruction model for drawing coordination. This helps them identify issues with the design and bring it to the attention of the owner, general contractor and design team, reinforcing the value of doing business with Adjustable Forms.
“With Tekla, we can resolve 90 percent of problems before we start construction,” said Lindquist. “In some cases, we’re informing the owner, general contractor and design team of these issues before we’ve been awarded the job.”
Achieving Operational Efficiencies through Information and Communication
Once they’ve won the business, Adjustable Forms refines the Tekla model to the point where it is exactly what they’ll build, incorporating drawing revisions as they are issued and then using it to manage the entire construction process and to improve collaboration.
“Tekla allows us to establish a workflow for many different facets of our process all in one environment,” said Lindquist. “We use it to handle everything from drawing coordination, schedule loading (4D modeling), pour management, rebar detailing, shoring and formwork layouts, and modeling safety systems. Tekla allows us to do each of these operational tasks faster, easier and more accurately. For example, by modeling the shoring frames in Tekla we can extract the quantities by size for piece counts and send the report to the field. It’s a seamless process.”
Adjustable Forms provides the Tekla model to its rebar detailers and fabricators to model the rebar detail and extract sizes and quantities for fabrication. After using Tekla for several jobs, the rebar subcontractors are realizing the efficiency benefits of detailing the rebar in 3D for identifying congestion zones and creating drawings based on the model.
“Tekla is also great communication tool when paired with model viewer like Tekla BIMsight,” said Lindquist. “For example, on complex jobs when the iron workers don’t understand what they’re supposed to do, you can use the Tekla model to show them exactly how the rebar needs to be installed, even in highly congested areas. In short, it brings clarity to complex jobs. Tech savvy or not, everybody on the construction team can benefit from 3D, without being a BIM guru.”
Tekla also helps Adjustable Forms keep up with changes made by the owner and design team before and during construction.
“It can be very frustrating to try to communicate the many drawing changes as jobs progress, so we use User Defined Attributes (UDA) in Tekla,” said Lindquist. “Whether you’re deleting or adding information, UDAs makes it easy to keep up with revisions, maintain an accurate scope, and prove to the general contractor that all of the modifications have been incorporated.”
Using Tekla to Expand and Improve Existing Structures
Adjustable Forms also uses Tekla for atypical jobs. For example, for jobs involving remodeling and adding to existing structures, the firm imports 3D laser scans of the existing building to create a Tekla model, which it then uses to extract accurate material quantities.
“By building a Tekla model from scan data, drawings and as-built information, we know the scope will be absolutely correct,” said Lindquist. “While the quantity risk on jobs involving existing structures is very low, we know that old slabs are not going to be perfectly level. Extracting quantities out of the model makes perfect sense.”
Adjustable Forms has recently begun indicating layout points in Tekla, which it extracts and feeds into its survey equipment to do layout in the field. The firm plans to expand its practice of using Tekla model data to automate a wider variety of construction tools.
“Tekla models contain accurate job data that can be used to make site work go faster and more smoothly,” said Lindquist. “We’re constantly discovering new ways to leverage the model data to automate more field processes.”