Case Study: O’Dwyer Steel – Refining the workflow and delivering total confidence on site

How O’Dwyer Steel has revolutionised it’s workflow using Trimble Tekla Structures software and a Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner.

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Based in the village of Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, O’Dwyer Steel brings together the best of the old and the new through its 60 years’ of experience in the supply of CE certified steel and cladding alongside a thoroughly modern approach to the adoption of new technology and workflows.

Operating out of its purpose built, 4 hectare fabrication facility, the company delivers steel structures for the offsite, industrial, commercial and agricultural markets throughout the UK and Ireland and has established a hard-earned reputation through its decades of experience and successful business relationships.

The Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner chosen by ODS

Great detail and true accuracy

Central to O’Dwyer’s success is its ability to deliver high-quality steel fabrications, designed and fitted with millimetre precision. Consequently, the company relies on the highly accurate measurements collected on site at the early stages of every project.

The capture of this data can be extremely time consuming and labour intensive as well as causing downtime through rework. Not only must it deliver on accuracy, but it is also vital that information collected during the site survey stage has sufficient detail for the avoidance of clashes at a later stage, particularly on more complex projects such as the retrofitting of steel works into existing buildings. Any discrepancies between the fabricated steel and the real-world site can result in costly rework as well as delaying a project by typically a week to 10 days.

O’Dwyer Steel’s current workflow sees a site engineer using a manual total station to record points which are backed up by a sketch made in the field. On returning to the office, the engineer then produces an AutoCAD drawing which is passed to the steel detailer for subsequent 3D modelling.

However, O’Dwyer Steel Director, Richard Walsh, felt that this was an area of the business that could be vastly improved by undertaking the surveys using a 3D Laser Scanner rather than a total station. By adopting this new digital methodology he felt that, not only would the site and office work be completed far faster, but the point cloud that the laser scanner generated would deliver the mm accuracy they required along with every detail of the site or structure, no matter how small. This would cut down on the need to revisit the site for any additional measurements and also remove any potential misinterpretations of the site layout.

“We are involved in a lot of complex projects and the new workflow is enabling us to spot potential clashes or misalignments presite. It’s also been particularly impressive during Microsoft Teams meetings with the design team able to open ‘Scan Explorer’ to take measurements and levels.”

Richard Walsh, Director, O’Dwyer Steel

Tekla – the workhorse for workflow

O’Dwyer is a long-term user of Tekla Structures (software that enables users to create and manage 3D structural models in concrete or steel), and Richard Walsh was therefore keen for any new solution to have a familiar interface and in particular, to work seamlessly with his Tekla software. He therefore contacted Trimble BuildingPoint UK and Ireland to research various scanners and following a number of trials, selected the Trimble X7 a scanner, a system already well trusted, respected and proven within the construction industry.

The adoption of the new system, which included Trimble FieldLink software to manage the laser scanner via a tablet and Trimble RealWorks for point cloud processing and analysis, enabled Richard to fine tune the workflow.

Once the site survey is complete using the Trimble X7, the site engineer exports the scan data into Trimble RealWorks which is used to validate the registration of the scans already completed on site by the X7. RealWorks is also used to turn the point cloud into a lean, clean, dataset free from the noise of a busy site and any information superfluous to the needs of the steel detailer.

The software is also used to segment down the point cloud before it’s issued to the detailer to make it even more manageable in size. Once segmented, these point clouds are generated and imported into Tekla Structures for the detailing and modelling of the steel work.

This easy, connected flow of data ensures that the accuracy of the original point cloud is retained throughout the process.

Case Study: Steelwork for a Martello tower, UK

Full scan of the Martello tower using the Trimble X7

This was a particularly challenging project in which ODS was engaged by Enevate Homes UK (specialists in volumetric construction) to fabricate and install floor and roof steelwork into a Martello tower located on the south coast of England. WL Squared (Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers) designed curved steelwork for each floor and a feature curved roof.

ODS used the Trimble X7 to complete a survey of the existing tower. Due to its compact nature, the ODS team was able to bring the X7 onto a flight from Ireland to the UK and the survey was completed in just one day.

Following the site work, a point cloud was then generated to allow the Tekla detailer to detail all the steelwork. The point cloud was segmented down to points only at each level that was relevant to the steel detailer.

On this project, the ODS management team decided to pre-assemble each of the floors in their workshop. They were able then to do a scan of the assembled floor and compare that to the .IFC model to ensure it was within tolerance prior to delivery and installation. Indeed, an error was picked up with one of the perimeter PFC (parallel flange channel) being curved to the incorrect radius. Carrying out this exercise allowed ODS to remedy the error before it was delivered to site.

Survey carried out of preassembled floors in ODS workshop
Curved roof steelwork
Steel beams sitting on existing corbels

“Once I’d familiarised myself with the new workflow, creating the models with the point cloud was very easy and now it’s become second nature. There have been numerous times when this has enabled us to flag up issues in the office, presite, which has been invaluable. For example, on our very first job with the Trimble X7 where we were extending a commercial building, we were able to pick up an electrical box exactly where we were dropping a column and arrange for this to be moved before we arrived on site.

The new system also means that we can handle particular complex jobs. A recent one involved steel work inside a tower in England. The inside was not symmetrical, so every piece of steel work was different. I don’t know how we’d have managed this job previously!”

Shane O’Connell – Steel Detailer, O’Dwyer Steel

New Workflow – key benefits

• Faster turnaround of jobs
• Total confidence that the steel structure will fit on site
• Avoidance of rework and site revisits, saving time and money
• Ability to spot clashes/misalignments in the office and correct the model before fabrication
• Capacity to take on larger and more complex projects

• Trusted, accurate and reliable X7 data
• Easy moving of point cloud within the Tekla IFC file
• Ability to capture even the smallest detail with the X7
• Ability to open Trimble Scan Explorer during Teams meetings and take dimensions and levels

For further information please contact:

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CASE STUDY: ‘Reduce waste and increase certainty’

How Laing O’Rourke is using augmented reality for construction through their adoption of Trimble’s Connect AR app

Download a PDF of the case study here.

“We have been able to put the detailed 3D models in the hands of site supervisions, operatives, steel fixers, construction managers and more. The result is a better-connected team, increased understanding, and complete end to end digital delivery.”

Antony Bromley, Project Digital Lead, Laing O’Rourke

Augmented Reality has seen a boom in recent years with take up across a range of diverse sectors from entertainment and interior design to manufacturing and medical training. As the technology becomes easier to use, AR is making a profound difference to the way we work. The construction industry is now experiencing its own digital revolution and 3D representations of projects and BIM models are now commonplace, bringing with them the means to easily visualise the graphical representation of the model and data that exists within it, reducing error and uncertainty. Read more

Taking Hillcrest Structural From Paper Plans to Point Clouds

Helping Hillcrest Structural lower costs, improve accuracy and save time by switching from manual measuring and dumpy levels to point clouds and robotic measurements.

Download the PDF here

On site with the Trimble RTS773

Based in Fareham, Hampshire, Hillcrest Structural is a steel contractor specialising in the design, supply, fabrication and erection of structural steel and ancillary systems throughout the UK. The company has its own in-house design division, production facilities and site team, a set up that enables it to offer a complete solution to its clients as well as a range of useful cross department experiences for employees.

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Adopting Mixed Reality: Mercury Engineering Are Now Using The Trimble XR10

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Improved communication, reduced errors in the model and plenty of time saved. Mercury Engineering found the perfect project to test Trimble’s XR10 mixed reality technology.

Mercury Engineering on site with the Trimble XR10

Every year, new digital technologies emerge that can improve construction work, both on-site and in the office. Smart businesses are seeing the potential to improve access to information and embracing them. Businesses like Dublin-based Mercury Engineering.

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AV Unibrak Improve Efficiency With the Trimble RPT600 Rapid Positioning System

It’s not always just about the numbers. The impressive accuracy from Trimble’s RPT600 inspired total confidence from AV Unibrak. The Rapid Positioning Tool has reduced fieldwork by 30%, completely justifying their investment.

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The System AV Unibrak Used:

Setting Out Hardware: RPT600 – Rapid Positioning System 

Setting Out Software: Trimble FieldLink 

Running On: a T100 Tablet

Plugin: Trimble FieldPoints

With support and servicing provided by KOREC Group

AV Unibrak is one of the UK’s largest independent ventilation companies. They offer a full design, planning, installation, and maintenance service. They work on high-profile projects across the UK, including Manchester’s Crown Street and the London Dock and Nine Elms Parkside.

As they also work with some of the country’s biggest contractors, it’s important they are able to do timely, high-quality work. Under the guidance of Managing Director, Jamie McCann, the company has established a reputation for doing just that.

Jamie realises that many people view the construction industry with suspicion. Delays are inevitable, errors occur and the methods used to address the issues often rely more on speed than quality. He works hard to separate his company from this ‘near enough’ approach. In fact, the AV Unibrak mission is to provide a high-quality job that satisfies the client and benefits the company itself.

“If there’s one outstanding benefit of the introduction of this new system, it has to be simply the quality of the setting out work that we can now produce. In fact any member of our site team can now produce this level of work, not just the tape measure veterans. We can show our contractors that everything is precise because the Trimble is always right! 

This has opened up new doors for us and the additional work that we were awarded on the New Victoria project is a great example of this. Correcting measurement work for Building Standards can cost millions of pounds so our contractors value the accuracy we can bring to a project. In fact, the only people who don’t like the RPT600 are some of our fellow sub-contractors because the quality of our work shows inaccuracies elsewhere.”

– Jamie McCann, Managing Director, AV Unibrak

Mapping Hardware Selected for a Clear Purpose

Always on the hunt to improve efficiency, Jamie felt that the company’s process of setting out ventilation services was an area for improvement. Along with the company’s Head of Design, Gabriel Asante-Boadu, he decided that moving away from traditional tape-based measuring methods could make a massive difference.

Though the old system still worked well, it relied on the expertise of their staff in setting out by hand. This limited how many jobs could be done, creating a bottleneck when demand for these services were high.

And even with their highly-trained and proficient staff, there was potential for human error using offsets.

After researching possible systems, both Gabriel and Jamie thought that

Trimble’s RPT600 Rapid Positioning Tool would be a useful addition for site work.

This compact setting-out tool has an easy-to-see green laser that points directly where you need to set out. All with millimetre accuracy. And it’s automated functions and guided workflows mean it is simple to use as well.

The flexibility of the RPT600 also appealed to Gabriel. It is easy to integrate into existing workflows, so their team wouldn’t face much disruption during set-up either.

“The Trimble equipment clearly provided us with the best possible scenario, primarily because it combined the accuracy we required (consistent millimetre positions) with ease of use. Our setting out team members are not IT experts and we could see that the Trimble RPT600 system would be easy for them to adapt to within days and in fact they were up and running after just a couple of run throughs.”

Putting the Trimble RPT600 to Good Use

AV Unibrak purchased 3 RPT600 systems, alongside Trimble FieldLink software and rugged Trimble T100 tablets to control them. These purpose-built systems are more than capable of running power-hungry construction applications and are straightforward to use, making them the perfect companion.

The final part of their packable was Trimble FieldPoints. This software works as a plug-in to CAD and Revit to let them create 2D and 3D point clouds in their design files. They can also be easily exported into FieldLink software for use on-site.

With these tools at their disposal, setting out work is now managed from their office. They’ve also improved communication with automated drawing updates making sure that the onsite team is always working from the current design. 

This has led to increased accuracy on every job, reducing errors despite increasing speed.

Another benefit for Gabriel is the ability to track progress in real-time. This lets him plan more clearly, making sure everybody’s time is optimally used. 

And, as the whole field team can use this straightforward system, they don’t have to rely on experts to take every measurement. This is backed up by automated reporting that allows Gabriel to check all work is done correctly per the drawing.

Key Benefits for AV Unibrak

  • Confidence in the quality of work done.
  • Reduction in human error, the RPT is always right
  • Easy to integrate into an existing workflow
  • Improved communications that ensure the site time is always working from the latest drawings, reducing errors
  • 30% reduction in rework
  • Extremely easy to use by all members of the site team allowing for a better distribution of skills
  • Opens up new doors for setting-out all of a job’s MEP services

Qualitative Benefits

AV Unibrak has already used this system on 15 projects across the UK. In fact, it’s in use all day, every day.

In the past for big projects, Gabriel had to provide a 2D drawing plan of each floor plate with over a thousand setting out points on it. This was then forwarded to the site team.

With the 26-storey residential development at New Victoria Tower in Manchester, this work setting out the ventilation was so impressive it earned AV Unibrak all of the MEP setting out work across both towers.

While the accuracy of the RPT600 system has delivered a reduction in rework of around 30%, Jamie stresses that the real benefits of their new system is qualitative.

AV Unibrak has also been supported by KOREC, Trimble’s UK and Irish distributor. Thanks to the T100, KOREC was able to provide excellent support remotely, dealing quickly with queries.

Now their new workflow is firmly established, AV Unibrak are extending their investment. They’ve purchased a Trimble XR10 Mixed Reality System running FieldLink MR so that they can visualise their designs using holograms. They can also increase the accuracy of their RPT600’s, setting out to designs with mm accuracy,

Follow us to catch up with them in a few months to see how they’re getting on!

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