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How Estimodeling Improves Accuracy and Helps Quickly Deliver Bids

"We have a very strategic and ambitious growth plan that the accuracy and confidence we’ve gained…are going to help us achieve. We’re excited to see what the future holds.” 

—         Adam Norman, Managing Partner, GMF Industries

Before Adam Norman took the reins from the founder, his father Larry Norman, the company was mainly known for large plate fabrication. However, Adam wanted to shift their focus towards becoming a full-service structural steel fabrication and erection operation and began looking for a way to accelerate the company’s estimating process in order to facilitate this growth and shift in focus.   

When Norman heard about model-based estimating—also known as estimodeling—he recognized it would give his company the potential to estimate projects quicker and more accurately than before. At the time, they were still basing their estimates on 2D drawings, so the workflow was both tedious and slow. Norman saw the opportunity to adopt estimodeling in order to streamline their current process and use 3D models to create extremely accurate estimates, in less time.

Change is often met with resistance, especially in the construction industry, so Norman was unsure of the reaction he would get from estimators who worked in 2D their entire careers. However, they were able to quickly adapt to using 3D models—with his chief estimator picking up the software in less than a day. Additionally, the intuitive nature of the software made it easy for less experienced estimators to automate project takeoff and fully visualize the final product, allowing them to operate on a similar level to more seasoned estimators.

Shortly after GMF began implementing model-based estimating, they were asked to bid on a project that involved fabricating and erecting 1,000 tons of steel. Because it was a non-profit project with thin margins, the accuracy of their estimates was critical for a successful bid. 

With estimodeling, their team was able to generate accurate and traceable quantities, update estimates on the fly and quickly deliver a bid on the project. Even though GMF was given less than five days to turn around the bid, they were awarded the project and started ordering material the following Monday. Not only did estimodeling help turn out an accurate estimate, it also helped GMF hit the ground running after the contract was awarded.

According to Norman, “After we won the job, we took the IFC file out of estimating and ordered the material cut to size. We had less waste and were able to hit mill orders straight off the estimate with 100% certainty that we were ordering the right material…Some of it won’t even hit the ground because as it comes off the truck, we're putting it straight on the beamline where it will move through fabrication -- all thanks to our new model-based estimating process.”

Making the switch to model-based estimating transformed the way GMF bid on and won projects. By using Tekla PowerFab to systematically accelerate their entire structural steel fabrication process with estimodeling, they’ve been able to bid on more projects and gain a competitive advantage by being able to start on projects quickly after winning a bid due to the accuracy of their estimates.

“On average, we used to bid on a project every 10 days. Now, we’re bidding on three projects each week.”