Taking Technology to New Levels

Balfour Beatty team applies innovative technologies to maximize operational excellence

As an industry leader in innovation and construction technology, Balfour Beatty understands the importance of adapting and utilizing technology to solve challenges project teams encounter while also creating more efficient workflows. 

On the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel Expansion (BCCCH) project in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Balfour Beatty has leveraged innovative technologies to solve unique operational challenges on the $1.2 billion expansion of the Broward County Convention Center and new construction of an 800-room, four-diamond Omni Hotel. 

OpenSpace

Capturing project data such as progress photos is critical to the success of any contractor. On large-scale buildings such as the 600,000-square-foot Broward County Convention Center, this process has historically required a significant investment of time and labor. In 2021, Balfour Beatty implemented leading-edge OpenSpace technology which has created greater efficiency, safety and value throughout the jobsite capture process with the use of a 360° hard hat mounted camera.

"By leveraging the OpenSpace technology, our project teams are not only more effectively capturing project data in a fraction of the time from previous methods, but they are also empowered to walk the jobsite handsfree, resulting in a much a safer way to capture the project," says Wade Martin, process manager TPD. 

OpenSpace was especially helpful to the BCCCH team during the concrete deck pour. Prior to the pour, the team walked the deck to inspect sleeve placement and, with OpenSpace, rapidly compared penetrations to the BIM model. This direct, side-by-side comparison between the coordinated model and real-world conditions revealed the incorrect placement of a single sleeve. By utilizing OpenSpace, the team prevented an error that could have resulted in significant schedule delays if discovered after the pour. 

It even proved to be an invaluable tool for BCCCH, allowing the client to share relevant information with key stakeholders. “During the pandemic, we saw travel restrictions but still had clients that wanted to see the building virtually,” adds BCCCH Director of Facilities Rick Fredette. Through Balfour Beatty’s implementation of OpenSpace, we had the capabilities to continue to show clients the progress of the project and all the upgrades that were happening.”

Eyes in the sky

To map the project more accurately from a bird’s eye view, the project team implemented an innovative drone software, DroneDeploy. As the drone flies in a cross pattern, DroneDeploy takes photos approximately every 40 to 50 feet. The software subsequently stitches these photos together into a single image within roughly four to six hours after the flight. This generates value by enabling project teams to overlay drawings overtop the DroneDeploy file, comparing and identifying any discrepancies with live site conditions. 

This software was instrumental in preventing potential schedule delays or increased costs at BCCCH. Because the project is also located in close proximity to a zero-elevation water plane, the team realized that the underground rigid inclusion piles potentially interfered with conduits. By overlaying the drawings, the team identified a design flaw and corrected the issue early on, preventing the possibility of a dangerous utility strike. 

Commissioning and punch lists

Because of their extensive use of BIM on the project, Balfour Beatty’s construction technology experts quickly recognized the benefits of leveraging the BIM 360 Next Gen Autodesk platform to facilitate efficient workflows for commissioning, punch lists and facilities management tasks. Since BCCCH utilized Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) to document equipment data, including install dates, serial numbers and warranty start dates, the team needed to identify a solution that seamlessly blended the data between both programs.

After conducting diligent research into the software, the team implemented BIM 360 Assets, a module within BIM 360 Next Gen that allowed the team to track on-site equipment with barcodes. Upon receiving the list for commissioning, which included mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection (MEPF) equipment, the team combined that information with the COBie data collection. 

By scanning these barcodes, the team was able to accurately track the status of deliveries, installation and testing, among other workflows, and then easily input this data back into the models. This workflow included creating barcodes upon delivery of the MEPF equipment. Trade partners then scanned the barcodes and entered the data necessary for COBie live from their mobile devices after they performed installation and required testing. As a further benefit, this platform enabled trade partners to enter data such as warranty start dates as well as installer and serial numbers, which the client subsequently inputted into their proprietary system for use after turnover.

BIM 360 Next Gen further allowed the project team to streamline two deliverables into a single, efficient workflow, enabling the county commissioning agent to track progression remotely, a common and critical need that arose during the pandemic.

After conducting further research, the team discovered a unique application within the module for punch lists. While utilizing BIM 360 for punch lists is not a new use case for the software, it was a unique means of communicating with trade partners and the owner as it streamlined the process into one central location. 

Before implementation of this innovative software, the field team was required to manually take a picture, go back to the office and input or combine any issues. The BIM 360 Assets module allowed the team to templatize any punch issues using checklists live, drastically reducing any additional time-intensive work.

As technology continues to grow and evolve within the construction industry, it's critical that Balfour Beatty’s teams seek customized solutions to improve operational excellence, streamline workflows and provide enhanced services and value to our clients.