The Store Management Group (SMG) from Vriezenveen, north of Almelo in the Netherlands, has been a major player in the field of renovation and new builds for more than 15 years. Focusing on hospitality and health care projects, SMG specialises in fast, high-quality renovations of fashion and footwear retail stores. SMG has been working with Bluebeam Revu for more than five years to digitise its work as much as possible, to enter adjustments and comments directly onto planning documents and to check digital measurements on site.
Staff at the Store Management Group need just four weeks from order placement to project completion. ‘And we only need three weeks from dismantling the shop to reopening’, says SMG owner Edward Doornbos proudly when discussing the extremely short time required for renovations. Doornbos’ staff and external contractors can only meet this very tight schedule if everything goes smoothly, however.
Dutch company SMG renovates up to 50 stores a year. Its customers include large retail brands from the fashion industry and banks, among many others. The biggest challenge – apart from completing projects on schedule – is ensuring the quality of preliminary planning. Projects can only move forward if the data provided by the architectural offices (usually sent via PDF) is correct, the digital measurements taken both prior to the renovation and from the new building are accurate and all other planning has been completed correctly.
Digitally plan and build as consistently as possible
As the saying goes, time is money. Every day a shop is closed, the client loses money. Continuous digitisation of the processes involved in measuring, planning, demolition, constructing and billing is therefore an important goal for SMG. Standardised digital processes can save a lot of time and money, particularly for recurring renovation jobs for the same clients and in the same shops.
Emil Kütter, planning and software expert, owner of BPA Bouwplaatsautomatisering and a Bluebeam reseller and trainer, has supported the continuous optimisation of work processes at SMG for the past five years – moving away from analogue printed plan PDFs to tablets, laptops and smartphones. He’s worked as a freelance project manager for many years and introduced Bluebeam construction software into SMG’s daily processes. Kütter was able to quickly convince Doornbos of the advantages of Bluebeam because he immediately recognised its potential.
‘I realised that any changes to the printed plans on the construction site were formerly made by hand’, Kütter said. ‘The construction measurements were always the same at the end of a working day. Manually updating changes later by adding each quantity and volume by computer created too much room for error. Bluebeam immediately scored points for us because we could use our laptops and tablets onsite.’
One software program for a range of project tasks
SMG’s customers are often long-term clients. This is mainly thanks to a capable and highly collaborative planning and construction team who work hard to ensure that the costs, schedule and quality all hit the mark. SMG usually receives plans from the architectural offices commissioned by its clients via email or straight from its internal planning departments. The data is then available as an implementation plan and PDF file on a scale of 1:50, or 1:20 or higher for more precise extension details. SMG’s internal planning team then adds their essential planning information to PDFs using Bluebeam. Since it’s able to make changes directly to the PDF file, Bluebeam saves valuable time and costly corrections that otherwise would’ve required additional planning programs or separate CAD software.
In addition, Bluebeam allows users to create customised tool sets. This means all the tools required for the project are always ready at hand and can be neatly organised in the program window. ‘Bluebeam has become the perfect solution when we need to quickly incorporate plan changes into projects’, says Kütter. ‘It also helps us calculate dimensions, volumes and quantities more efficiently and accurately. We also need far fewer printouts of planning documents because you can see and review everything on monitors and tablets, which saves valuable resources.’
Exploiting the full potential in the future
‘We work with a number of good companies and SMG wants to keep growing, but it’s difficult to find reliable professionals. There’s a shortage of skilled workers everywhere. It’s therefore all the more important to digitise routine and standard processes and make things simpler for everyone.’
Founder of SMG
Bluebeam’s potential has not yet been exhausted for the numerous projects that SMG implements each year. This is in spite of the fact that the company already uses it across all departments. Sales, costing, project preparation, management, processing and customer service all use the software for a wide range of processes. In the future, SMG will use Bluebeam to quickly calculate measurements of frequently intersected floor, wall or ceiling areas, and to bill construction work, for example. This is particularly useful because a large part of the work carried out over the course of the project is completed by SMG professionals. They handle overall project management and a large part of the execution. In addition to the specialist planning, the company also implements electrical systems and completes HVAC system implementations.
For Kütter and Doornbos, the question remains as to how project planning and execution can be digitised even further. Doornbos stresses: ‘We work with a number of good companies and SMG wants to keep growing, but it’s difficult to find reliable professionals. There’s a shortage of skilled workers everywhere. It’s therefore all the more important to digitise routine and standard processes and make things simpler for everyone.’ Kütter adds: ‘We want to continue to guarantee high-quality planning and execution because that’s what our customers expect from us. We can see how Bluebeam will be a great support for us in many ways in this respect.’