Asda supermarkets have been advocates of BIM technology and more specifically Revit for well over a decade. Until now, its use has been predominantly for planning stage and beyond by Asda’s framework of designers and contractors. Now its about to change with the introduction of BIM at feasibility stage.
Recently we have worked with Asda to evaluate Revit’s suitability for early stage site analysis and were pleased to say it has been a success worth celebrating. In this article we discuss the challenges we help Asda to overcome with Matt Baker, head of feasibility within Asda’s construction team.
TRIED AND TESTED SOLUTIONS
Asda have until now produced site studies using a combination of 2D CAD and drawing boards. It has always been done this way so it was a real challenge to walk in and proclaim change is on the horizon to a team of fearful looking CAD operatives.
Migrate the in-house feasibility team from CAD to BIM
The purpose was to optimise the decision time-frame for land opportunities through increased accuracy of information and better methods of conveying the site constraints to the real estate committee (who have not necessarily seen the site, nor understand its 3D spatial requirements).
Convert a well oiled 2D drafting machine into a 3D powerhouse with minimal downtime
Replicate all available resources currently at the team’s finger tips in CAD across to Revit
Understand and convert validation checks currently performed manually on each scheme into automated checks
Convey information clearly to the real estate committee using both 2D and 3D to demonstrate compliance and site suitability.
As well as educating and training the team, we built a range of drawing sheet and model store templates to enable a plug and play approach to assembling a feasibility scheme with all the required criteria. These are known as store profiles… and although Asda have used Revit store profiles for many years, these profiles are just concept grade light weight models for analysis and site evaluation.
The profiles, then combined with a site form a pack of information with filters, schedules, views and more… all setup and ready to press print. Although we’d all like to think its as easy as pressing a button sadly its not… and with Revit, there are lots of manual checks you still need to perform before you can press the magic print button. That said, we’re always up for a challenge and decided to build in some pretty awsome validation checks, right within Revit.
Conditional formulas were mapped out based on the criteria for site compliance against a site briefing document. These allowed automation to be carried out silently in the background as the designer was working.
What we also discovered was that row upon row of data validation meant nothing when you are staring at hundreds of values in schedules. We realised the results needed to be visual, so colour coding was applied to deliver an easier approach to design validation.
Finally, all this work would be in vain if it were not for the dashboard validation sheet. Opening and closing the model without opening and reviewing the schedules for compliance is too easy to miss. Therefore we integrated a colour coded dashboard with high level compliance stats. If any of these key items failed (turned red), it meant there was an underlying fault to be reviewed. Because this was set as the save page, it was the first thing a designer saw when they opened up their model, serving as a regular reminder of how the scheme is performing.
After the team had used the tools for several months we interviewed Matthew Baker, head of Feasibility at Asda Supermarkets to find out how it was progressing. Matt explains “Design times have remained the same, however major time savings have been reported in the revision of the scheme layouts”
Matt also went on to explain some of the other previously unrealised benefits this brought to the team – “Before BIM was introduced, the 2D CAD drawings would include a user error margin of approximately 20%. This was caused by a number of factors but a few included miss-counting parking spaces and manual checks on site statistics becoming inaccurate with later design variations and out of sync data. Revit has eliminated these errors using built in validation checks”.
When we asked Matt how this had impacted on the selection of sites by the real estate committee he told us “Colleagues no longer question if a project has been updated as its always up to date. Traditional processes were about remembering to update everything when a change is made. Now a change anywhere is a change everywhere and confidence in accuracy of data has grown across all stakholders”.
Whilst the desktop study is only the start of the construction lifecycle process for Asda’s many internal teams, BIM has assisted Asda with a good understanding of the site potential at an early stage. This has helped Asda make vital decisions about investment opportunities for years to come and is paving the way for accurate informed decisions through the use of BIM.