- When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. this spring, Southland Construction easily transitioned its virtual design and construction team to productive work from home, representatives from the Garden Grove, California-based mechanical, engineering and plumbing contractor said during a session at The Design-Build Institute of America’s virtual conference last week.
- There was no disruption because the company had transitioned from storing its BIM models on individual computers to streaming them from data centers, Israel Sumano, senior director of infrastructure services for Southland, told the online audience.
- The transition to streaming was a key part of the company’s shift in culture and innovation, Sumano and other Southland VDC experts said during the session. By continuing to look for ways to make BIM and design easier, they in turn made work smoother during the pandemic.
One of Southland’s first ventures into BIM was a huge undertaking, using Autodesk’s Revit BIM software on a massive hospital project, Julio Saenz, associate director of construction technologies at Southland, said during the session. Since that project, Saenz said, Southland has used Revit on more than 450 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in revenue. In addition, Southland has developed nearly 200 custom tools for Revit software and integrated them into its workflow.
Joshua Getz, senior director of AEC technology at Southland, said there were four reasons why the contractor was prepped for the pandemic:
- Relationships across the company.
- Having a strategy or roadmap for each project.
- Innovation culture.
- Execution, which Getz described as Southland innovating how they deliver projects, not the specific construction methods involved.
“For us the key is being repeatable and consistent,” Getz said.
The popularity of streaming BIM models, as opposed to storing them on personal computers, could grow in VDC. In mid-October, Tridify, a BIM software company, received a grant from Epic Games, developer of the popular Fortnite video game, for designing a streaming service for viewing BIM models on mobile devices.
Epic has pledged $100 million to support game developers, enterprise professionals and others in finding new utilizations for Unreal Engine, its gaming engine for rendering images and environments.