Virtual building tool saves businesses time, money

This piece is presented by Journey Group.

Before anyone from Journey Group puts a shovel in the ground to start a major project, Jamie Mutschelknaus has already built it.

“I am the first person to see the building built,” said Mutschelknaus, who started at Journey’s Sioux Falls headquarters a few years ago.

He builds with a keyboard and mouse, not heavy equipment, but his work is saving clients time and money in the field.

Building Information Modeling, or BIM software, is used frequently by Journey Group.

Mutschelknaus was an early adopter of Building Information Modeling, or BIM. It’s an increasingly common software that architects use to virtually model projects, but it’s rare in the construction world. Journey is leading the BIM effort in Sioux Falls.

“We are out in front in BIM utilization,” said Mutschelknaus, who has a background in architecture and project management and has used BIM since 2001. “When I was hired at Journey as a project manager and they found out my background, I quickly became the BIM guy. I think everyone is starting to realize the value in it.”

Finding efficiencies

Once you see BIM at work, it’s easy to understand why.

For instance, when Journey was hired to build the Midco Aquatic Center for the city of Sioux Falls a couple of years ago, the project came with a lot of complexity and a tight time frame.

That’s when Mutschelknaus and the software went to work on a virtual construction timeline.

“We take our standard schedules and tie them to models to create a live model,” he said. “We can play with the schedule to find efficiencies and pull time out to speed things up and look for potential issues.”

In the case of the aquatic center, Journey determined it would be most efficient to break the building into four pieces.

“I think we cut months out of the schedule by building it over and over again,” Mutschelknaus said. “We tie every piece of material to a timeline. Every toilet paper holder is in that schedule.”

For architecture and engineering firm TSP, which designed the project, working with a contractor using BIM helped ensure the design concept matched the construction plan.

“We anticipated potential conflicts between building elements well before they happened at Midco and were able to adjust the construction process to compensate for the issues, making them often in essence go away,” said Greg Schoer, an architectural graduate with TSP. “Really, we make the entire process of design and construction nearly seamless, which makes everything flow better for everyone, especially the owner.”

New perspective

The enhanced perspective BIM provides improves communication among everyone involved in a project and can catch potential problems before construction starts.

For example, Journey used BIM on the Beacom Institute of Technology project at Dakota State University in Madison to do what’s known as clash detection – checking for inconsistencies and human error in the model.

A project built by Journey Group at Dakota State University was assisted by BIM.

In a two-dimensional plan, one feature in the DSU project looked like offices. BIM revealed they actually were collaboration rooms suspended from the ceiling.

Journey is using the same technique on an expansion at Dow Rummel Village.

“We’re looking to find errors or pitfalls – not to make the architect look bad – but to identify and correct errors before we stick a shovel in the ground,” Mutschelknaus said. “We can either do clash detection, or we can do change orders. And nobody wants to do change orders. It saves us time. It saves the owner money. And it’s a team effort.”

Architects appreciate it, agreed Sean Ervin, a principal and senior architect at TSP.

“What happens when we interject the expertise of the constructor directly into the planning model is a concept that also is rooted in a buildable reality.  When we can make these two work together simultaneously, we get a result that is both clean and achievable,” he said.

The virtual nature of BIM also helps clients connect with their projects, Mutschelknaus said.

An addition at Dow Rummel Village designed by TSP.

Using the software, staff at Dow Rummel or at a clinic in Mitchell, for example, can watch the building be virtually built around them.

“In Mitchell, they wanted their staff to see the building, so we would walk them down the corridor of the nursing area so they could see how it looks,” Mutschelknaus said.

“At Dow Rummel, it’s also a communication tool for staff and residents. It’s their home. We can stand in front of them and they can see a video of what’s happening in the next month while we’re in their home.”

There’s no additional charge to clients using BIM. Journey expects to add to its capabilities in offering it and now considers BIM the standard for any major project, Mutschelknaus said.

“The goal is to construct a building as quickly and efficiently as possible and have a satisfied client.”

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Virtual building tool saves businesses time, money

Before anyone from Journey Group puts a shovel in the ground to start a major project, Jamie Mutschelknaus has already built it with a keyboard and a mouse.

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