Mortenson is on a continual quest to provide an exceptional customer experience, and as such, is continuously innovating and optimizing its design, preconstruction, and construction management workflows for both efficiency and quality. At the heart of this effort is investing in smart solutions for construction data management and information sharing.
The family-owned company has over 65 years of experience across a diverse array of industries and regions. With the core of Mortenson’s mission centered around the customer experience, the company is continually expanding its capabilities and service offerings to enhance value for its customers and community through a built environment.
Though the firm’s project base is quite diverse, it strives to live and operate by its core values – safety, teamwork, trust, responsibility, service, and stewardship – consistently across all projects. “It’s vital that we have a solid understanding of our customer’s business so we can help shape the project in a way that has the greatest possible benefit to their core objectives,” says Michael Peterson, Senior Director of Design Phase Solutions at Mortenson.
“Guiding us on our journey during the design phase, we’ve refined our approach and focus around several outcomes that apply to every project regardless of scope, scale, and complexity: integrated teams, scope and budget alignment, schedule alignment, and construction readiness.”
The Mortenson team recognizes that individual projects have individual needs. “There is an incredible amount of customization that exists in our industry today, and because of this, we must have a nimble and lean approach that remains focused on outcomes.”
To allow for agility inside its standards, the team has purposefully sought solutions for an ecosystem of tools responsive to the demands of any project’s delivery strategy, customer, and market environment.
“As we think about all the disruptions going on in the industry today, we have to have that flexibility. Technology is rapidly advancing, and the muscle that we have to build is not expertise around a specific tool, but expertise in how we can adjust and respond,” says Rolando Mendoza, Director of Virtual Design Construction at Mortenson.
Building A Nimble, Single Platform for Construction Data Sharing
To develop an ecosystem that supports the Integrated Team outcome across the builders, designers, and customers, the team first focused on gaining efficiency and improving communication in design and preconstruction. To address this challenge, Mortenson launched Autodesk Construction Cloud™, the cornerstone that has been BIM 360 and Assemble for integrated 3D modeling, to create a single source of truth.
“The built environment is a rapidly evolving industry, and key disruptors such as technological advancements, shifting market conditions, and the blurred boundaries of traditional roles continue to foster an uncertain future. As a result, one of our greatest opportunities as an industry is to improve the process and resulting outcomes of design documentation we deliver to the men and women that make these projects a reality,” says Peterson. Thus, the team’s initial focus is the design collaboration effort. Continuing the journey of leveraging a single, user-friendly platform, they are secondarily looking at ways to enhance further stages of the construction lifecycle.
The “One Model Approach”
Even before the launch of Autodesk Construction Cloud for construction data management, the team has been evolving towards a “one model approach.” Now, with BIM 360 and Assemble, they are launching a “design collaboration ecosystem” that has been like rocket fuel for this approach. It is eliminating redundancies, enhancing collaboration, and improving accuracy.
“We are integrating design and modeling efforts with design partners and introducing the trade partners who are incorporating their inputs during the design process. This has been invaluable in getting us to our goal of a fully coordinated set of Construction Documents at a much faster rate,” says Mendoza.
The approach is allowing design and estimating processes to be ‘model-driven.’ Mortenson uses Assemble’s 3D modeling views and data conditioning ability to give all –parties – from designers to estimators to trade –partners – controlled access to review a single model and contribute information as the design progresses.
First deployed on a healthcare project, where the customer was just as excited by the approach, One Model has yielded better documentation, more coordinated design documents, and aligned cost estimating to drive multiple efficiency gains.
Rather than all stakeholders creating their models from scratch, the team determines where optimized handoffs exist in authoring efforts between designers of record, trade partners, and fabricators. Eliminating redundancy is a leaner approach that drives greater collaboration and results in greater coordination in the end product.
With all details and estimates derived from the same model – created in an interactive and collaborative process – the goal and result are shop drawings that are the same as the engineering and architect of record drawings.
Lean Construction Institute’s Target Value Delivery is our fundamental process for how we manage projects in the design phase, and BIM 360 complements this collaborative lean approach well. “As the design is advancing, we’re automating the trending of quantities, constantly comparing them against the original target. In that feedback loop, we cut out latencies in design response and can design to expectation,” says Mendoza.
This integrated approach is accelerating the decision-making process by eliminating confusion, latency from the design team, and ensuring scope and budget remain aligned. All of this adds up to an ability to set clear expectations with customers with greater assurance of delivery.
Democratized Training for Speed of Implementation
For the launch of the new single platform, Mortenson leveraged the help of Autodesk to design an approach for creating a “Team of Champions.” Each champion serves as an Integrated Construction Manager (ICM) within each operating group and is chartered with the responsibility of guiding their teams in the new workflow.
Recognizing that classroom training doesn’t always stick and translate into changed behavior, the ICMs conduct training in informal, on-the-job workshops, and lunch-and-learns. “Regularly, in real-time, our ICMs are conducting workshops on best practices. We share a lot of information across operating groups and projects and capture best practices as they arise in our playbook,” says Mendoza.
So as the team drives implementation through worker-to-worker mentoring, it is also capturing idea exchanges leading to optimization. This approach at Mortenson is based on a bias to democratize implementation, allowing the team to move quickly towards an improved way of working.
“One of our goals with implementation was to create the momentum and excitement around new technology by identifying the right people to act as stewards. While we are just starting the process, we are using this opportunity to capture data to refine our strategy and drive adoption through knowledge sharing across projects. While there are always opportunities for growth, we needed to start somewhere as we knew the impact BIM 360 would have on our business,” says Mendoza.
Results and Continued Optimization for Construction Management
Design Workflow Efficiencies
So far, key results for this approach are many-fold, and Mortenson is continually working to optimize further. Peterson defines the current significant areas of return as:
- Improved collaboration across the integrated teams of customers, designers, and builders – each providing valuable insight and perspective.
- Improved accuracy, achieving a more direct correlation between design progress, and estimating processes.
- Improved communication, being enabled to provide input much earlier and more efficiently through the design process – accelerating decision making and aligning expectations.
The team is also exploring the capabilities of a centralized data platform for automated analysis of issues.
“We’re developing a strategy for issue tracking that will inform our use of Construction IQ and Insight. We’re also integrating with Power BI to leverage the data that’s coming from BIM 360. Before this next-gen BIM 360 ecosystem, we were cobbling all the data from different sources,” says Mendoza.
The centralized view has enabled automation of issue tracking to highlight areas of intense activity. For example, whether that area of intensity falls into zoning or coordination sequences, it’s identified in real-time in the company’s dashboard, enabling immediate communication and course correction, driving more efficiency in construction project management.
A Flexible Ecosystem Enables Greater Transparency
Third-party integrations with Autodesk solutions are also improving agility and efficiency at Mortenson. HoloLens enables 3D photo capturing and laser scanning, giving the team the ability to confirm design intent with owners, and then quickly communicate back to design partners.
“We’ve been in situations where the architect might produce a preliminary conceptual rendering of the space, that then gets seared in the mind of the owner. What we’re finding is through this immersive way of integrating the information, we can share views with the owner during specific phases of the process,” states Mendoza.
This ability to provide transparency, showing the customer in real-time how their project is evolving, helps create an improved relationship with an owner.
Mortenson’s commitment to a customer-centric approach is driving innovation within its delivery at a rapid rate. And the path to centralizing construction data management is creating efficiencies, improving insight into critical factors for decision making, and enhancing customer relationships.
This is all being achieved with a mindfulness of the need for flexibility and for solutions to enable rational workflows that genuinely enhance stakeholder collaboration and reduce redundancy.