Hung Nguyen, Ph.D., Director of VDC for Herrero Builders spoke to a virtual audience at The Festival of BIM & Digital Construction panel “360° Photo Capture Best Practices for Construction Progress Management in a Post-COVID-19 World”. He emphasized the company’s priorities around continuous learning and teaching, offering BIM/VDC courses as well as Lean training to both internal staff and the industry. Like Dr. Nguyen who works with UC Berkeley, many of the staff at Herrero Builders are also lecturers at Universities and Colleges.
Striving for efficiency with site documentation
In 2015, HerreroBoldt (a joint venture between Herrero Builders and the Boldt Company) was working on the 1 million square foot Van Ness Campus Hospital in San Francisco. They struggled with the inefficient process of documenting the site. Retrieving photos was difficult and organizing them systematically was time-consuming. HerreroBoldt was looking for a better method that supported their Lean priorities.
They were introduced to HoloBuilder and worked closely with them to use the Van Ness Campus Hospital as a test project for the solution. HerreroBoldt used HoloBuilder to capture site photos and site progress and provided feedback to help improve the product.
“As a result, we’ve got a really good, solid product that we’ve been using for multiple applications in our projects since then,” Nguyen told the Festival of BIM & Digital Construction audience. He shared some ways they’ve incorporated the technology into their processes at different stages of a project.
360° plays a role in winning new work
Typically, access to a site during the bidding and proposal phase is limited. Even before COVID-19 added restrictions, there was usually only a short window to view the site and a limit to the number of people. Herrero Builders uses 360° photos to supplement what they learn during the site tour and share a virtual job walk broadly to other members of their pursuit teams. Capturing and sharing existing conditions is an important proposal planning tool for their estimating and site planning teams.
Documenting existing conditions pre-construction
Herrero Builders uses a combination of 360° and close up 2D photos to document existing conditions on-site before construction, especially for renovation projects.
Supplementing laser scanning data with 360° photos for utility locating
To capture the exact location of underground utilities, Herrero Builders has relied on laser scanning before concrete is poured. However, sharing and using the data from the scans presented a challenge for the project team. They chose to also document utility locations with 360° photos, which could quickly and easily be shared with the team within 15 to 30 minutes of being taken. It provides a record of the utility location but is also an important tool for project meetings and communications.
Room by room documentation
Nguyen shared images of a medical building and how they use HoloBuilder to document site progress room by room. In this example, the project team is capturing photos weekly for a side-by-side comparison of as-built conditions and the design model. It’s an efficient way for them to confirm things are built to specifications and quickly identify any discrepancies. This process also serves to document what is inside walls prior to drywall or ceiling installation.
Use of 360° photo documentation tripled since COVID-19 hit
The staff at Herrero Builders understood the value of capturing site photos in 360° before COVID-19 added restrictions to how work could progress. However, since then there has been a new appreciation for having projects documented and having photos in the HoloBuilder platform, so they can easily be accessed, specific areas can be investigated, and information can be shared with partners and clients.
Nguyen shared the number of photos they captured around the start of the COVID-19 restrictions. In April 2020, they captured 945 photos, increasing to 2,114 in May. By June, the number had more than tripled to 3,033.
360° site capture an emerging essential skill
Herrero Builders takes a two-pronged approach to training for the use of 360° photo capture and site documentation.
1. Lean approach to train employees
To maintain a very lean VDC department, Herrero Builders spreads out skills on each job site. They focus on training project engineers and assistant project managers, so they are self-sufficient on their projects. The training takes a “hand-holding” approach where a trainer helps them learn by doing on a job, so the skills are repeatable on the next project.
2. Training future employees
Herrero Builders identifies HoloBuilder and 360° documentation as a valuable skill for the next generation of employees. They provide training at Universities and Colleges, including having HoloBuilder as a regular guest lecturer at UC Berkeley. The goal is to not only have future employees already trained on the technology before they get hired but to also inspire and excite them about the industry.
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