UK-based multi-disciplinary engineering firm Hurley Palmer Flatt understands the importance of efficient project delivery, and with good reason; the firm brings five decades of experience to the build world. No surprise then, that despite an increasingly adaptive industry, Hurley Palmer Flatt is still focused on innovation and efficiency. The firm’s turn toward paperless project delivery keeps them on the cutting edge of the digital revolution, improving efficiencies while attracting new talent. One tool helping Hurley Palmer Flatt achieve those goals is Bluebeam Revu, a desktop, mobile and cloud-based solution for paperless workflows that improves project efficiency and collaboration across the entire project lifecycle. The firm implemented Revu on Principal Place, a residential high-rise in the Shoreditch area of London, slated to top out at 50 storeys.
‘It’s actually evolved’, explains Senior Mechanical Engineer Jairo Jaramillo about the project. ‘I arrived about five years ago as just an engineer, working under the tutelage of two other engineers. And then it was a real design, a focus to producing drawings and doing designs for the heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems for all the apartments in the buildings. There are three of them and the basement systems, and I’m first port of call for any design issues. Because, as it’s being built now by the contractor, any sort of deviation from our original design has to be authorised and looked at by us.’ Under the leadership of Paul Flatt, group chairman and CEO of Hurley Palmer Flatt, Jaramillo and his team decided that the Principal Place project needed to be a digital project, and that paper-based collaboration was not an option. Hurley Palmer Flatt adopted Revu to improve their processes.
‘It’s allowed me to respond a lot faster, with a lot more accuracy and consistency and resolution. The clarity which Bluebeam allows me to communicate with the rest of the design team is fantastic.’
Senior Mechanical Engineer
Hurley Palmer Flatt
Improving efficiency in design review
‘What ultimately happened with the introduction of Bluebeam, is that the quality of what I was able to produce was such that, on two occasions, when we were doing things with more informal issues, we were able to just send it out straight away’, cites Jaramillo. ‘We were able to get a suite of drawings out and not have to run them by 2D CAD, and instead just issue them as-was. That saved us using two or three personnel, a couple of hours each. The saving there was definitely in the four figures.’
This has now become the firm’s preferred process. ‘We were previously using a program called Visio, and we would draw 2D drawings of a typical floor plate across the building. You’re looking at the apartment and where your pipework and your air conditioning units will be in a 2D space. The resolution suffers a lot. We then had to convert those to PDFs. And then those get sent as markups to our CAD dock design team, for them to then clean up and send to the client. As you can see, there’s a lot of steps there.’ Bluebeam Studio in Revu allows Jaramillo’s team to markup 2D drawings as well as 3D models and share the markups in real time to both the field and office via digital PDFs. ‘Bluebeam Revu has reduced the number of steps and been a massive help with regards to productivity’, adds Jaramillo.
Striving for accuracy
The easy-to-adopt and scale functionality and industry specific tools in Revu have allowed Jaramillo to expand the use of the digital solutions to other business critical workflows. ‘Our key thing is spatial coordination. So, to be able to do that off of a 2D drawing in Bluebeam and complete area calculations; see metres squared, distances, clearances to plant, etc. That is the bread and butter of what we do. And I wasn’t really able to do that until I started using Bluebeam. I no longer need to go to DWGs because with Bluebeam, I can check and calibrate the distances’, says Jaramillo. ‘Bluebeam has helped massively with accuracy.’
Compliance reviews have also seen an upgrade since the firm adopted Revu. ‘Bluebeam is particularly useful for us when we come on site visits because, when we’re taking pictures to document compliance, we can then embed them against the plans and schedules for the project when we get back to the office. Which means we have a direct link between what we’ve physically seen on-site and what’s in the design plans, to ensure compliance’, explains Sustainability Consultant Lucy Rees. In addition to that direct link, all document information is now in Revu, making information easier to find than previous multi-document formats. ‘Instead of having to have lots of different documents in different places, we just have it in the one that you can see together’, clarifies Rees.
‘It’s particularly useful, for example, during the design stage when we’re working with architects and engineers where we can just mark up our comments digitally on a PDF and send it to them instead of having to print things out and then scan them back in and send them over.’
Hurley Palmer Flatt
Taking digital PDFs into a paperless future
Hurley Palmer Flatt points to the digital PDF capabilities of Revu as the key to going paperless. CEO Paul Flatt believes that the future is now for firms like his to take advantage of the digital space. ‘Buildings have become a digital asset. So, with the evolution of building information modelling (BIM), the plans are becoming digital assets. Today, we are designing in 3D. You’re creating this digital asset. This digital asset is going to evolve, and I believe that next destination of that digital asset is where you’ll start to see an overlay of information that actually goes onto that digital asset; that’s tagging of information.’ After using Revu to do just that on the Principal Place project, Jaramillo agrees. ‘It’s such a recognisable and common format of electronic file, the PDF. So, Bluebeam allows me to manipulate everything from marking it up and instantly emailing it out to the rest of the design team.’ Having the versatility of digital PDFs within Revu has helped Hurley Palmer Flatt to achieve their goals in improving the quality and efficiency of project deliverables. ‘We have designed deliverables in terms of what we do, our drawings and specifications’, elaborates Flatt. ‘I think you’ve got all the other bits around it: project management, program managing, resource management and commercial management. At the end of the day, the deliverables that you’re dealing with have to be designed and to do that, you need design tools. Having tools like Bluebeam, they’re key if we’re going to move forward.’
Hurley Palmer Flatt’s commitment to pushing the industry forward means using digital project delivery to bring forth the newest talent in engineering and construction. ‘I think it’s all about breaking the old perceptions of engineering, and particularly being on-site, as being kind of heavy lifting, hard kind of work. It’s all hard work but we have a lot of the latest technology that now helps us with those processes. We can work on the move’, states Rees. Flatt cites the synergy between the industry and digital solutions along with Hurley Palmer Flatt’s own developmental programs as the keys to the firm’s future. ‘We have our own graduate program, which we call Gates. Our Gates program is successful at bringing that new talent in. A lot of that new talent and the younger talent coming in, they are already used to this digital stage’, Rees concurs. ‘The graduates come in and they expect to work in digital technology. They want to use BIM, Bluebeam, and they want to move away from being an office reliant on paper. So it’s really helping drive the company towards its goal to become paperless. And also, it helps the digital revolution of Hurley Palmer Flatt.’