Walls AEC, a dynamic architecture, engineering, and contracting company with operations in Lebanon and Kuwait, is making waves in the industry through its technology-driven approach and unwavering commitment to digital progress. By continually adapting to the latest advancements in the field and incorporating innovative solutions into their projects, Walls AEC has established itself as a forward-thinking player in architecture, engineering, and construction.
Their dedication to implementing cutting-edge technology allows them to tackle complex challenges and positions them as trailblazers in an ever-evolving industry landscape.
When established in 2019, Walls AEC took the strategic decision of choosing Lebanon as their operational base to manage their projects in Kuwait, which was the cornerstone of their business plan. This decision paid off as the company rapidly established an outstanding reputation with its determination to create unique designs to set them apart from competitors.
However, the founders underestimated the potential challenges of executing such designs remotely. Coordination efforts quickly became unmanageable. They struggled with miscoordination, rework and lost time searching for missing information. It became clear that traditional methods were inadequate for Walls AEC’s unique situation.
"As we faced these challenges, we realised we needed to explore innovative solutions to streamline our processes and enhance collaboration to decrease the margin of error," recalls Co-Founder and CEO, Mr. Zakaria Naji.
Walls AEC opted for a transformative approach, embracing advanced technology to overcome these obstacles. Co-Founder and Head of the Construction Department, Mr. Barrak Hashem, adds, "The problems we encountered turned our biggest challenge into our greatest opportunity."
Under the leadership of CEO Mr. Zakaria Naji, Walls AEC turned to Autodesk Construction Cloud to enhance collaboration and create their connected design and construction ecosystem. Adopting Autodesk Build and BIM Collaborate Pro, Walls AEC team streamlined operations and enhanced team members' collaboration.
“Utilising Autodesk Construction Cloud digitalised and automated most of the time-consuming design, engineering, and construction processes such as clash detections, reviews, transmittals, and documentation of meetings minutes.” says Mr Naji.
Walls AEC holds that technology is vital for future success in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. With robust digital tools, businesses can enhance productivity and benefit all stakeholders.
Despite substantial investments in digital solutions, the team still encountered some difficulties establishing seamless collaboration with external engineering entities, specifically their structural and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) partners. Traditional methods and tools remained a limiting factor, illustrating the complexity of integrating diverse work processes.
A combination of resistance to change and pressing timelines hindered the integration of many of Walls AEC's supply chain partners into their projects. This was particularly noticeable in issue management and resolution stages, where third-party engineers relied on manual annotation of 2D drawings, often presenting readability challenges. This traditional approach significantly heightened the risk of information loss or communication breakdowns.
Nevertheless, the team recognised that a technologically-driven solution could transcend these limitations. Accordingly, they developed a Dynamo script designed to transform 2D AutoCAD drawings into fully-fledged Revit models. This innovative conversion process vastly enhanced issue visibility, as all parties could access pertinent documents through Autodesk Construction Cloud. Moreover, the team effortlessly exported PDF issue reports in a common data environment to additional third-party collaborators for rectification, thus streamlining their overall workflow.
Walls AEC used this opportunity to proactively educate clients on the advantages of digital solutions to gain their trust and support. The team utilised the Autodesk Viewer platform as a training tool, showcasing features clients could use to collaborate with the design team and provide feedback on the overall design.
By introducing Autodesk Build and connecting features available in Autodesk Viewer, sharing views of designs was much smoother, making it easier to collaborate remotely. "Less than one hour with a new client was enough to explain how the viewer platform works, and they were ready to go," Mr Naji recalls.
Mr. Hashem shares a similar sentiment: "I would always start with the phrase, 'Have you ever played Call of Duty?' which worked magically well with many of our partners, exciting them enough to capture their attention."
A particularly exciting feature for clients is the walkthrough capability in the Autodesk Viewer platform. This game-like control allowed clients to explore virtually every detail and corner of their design. It provided an immersive experience that enhanced their understanding of the project and enabled more effective engagement with the design team.
Mr. Naji emphasises, "We are developing a new strategy to manage our construction sites remotely, and EarthCam is one of the companies we're considering collaborating with. By implementing this technology, we could reduce the number of site visits engineers need to make for each project, ultimately decreasing the overall project cost."
"There are countless apps and tools available for businesses to use now; the challenge lies in determining which ones are the most efficient and best suited for our industry and, specifically, our business model."
Utilising the capabilities of Autodesk Construction Cloud, Walls AEC devised a more standardised method for managing project data, allowing the company to expand into new markets and optimise operations for exceptional client outcomes.
To increase efficiency and reduce project timelines, the owners implemented the BIM LOD methodology for their projects. "We carefully examined every stage of the project, aiming to pinpoint the obstacles and gaps that caused the project to take longer than necessary. As anticipated, the LOD methodology was highly efficient once implemented," Mr. Naji reveals.
He elaborates: "We found that the wasted time occurred at the beginning of the project—during take-off meetings and deciding on the approach—although the design and engineering stages could also be more efficient, as we constantly strive to enhance our tools and team. However, the real-time waste happened before reaching these stages, and that's where AI text-to-image applications came in to address the issue.
Walls AEC took innovation to the next step by developing a code that used a bespoke AI tool to pose ten key questions with multiple answers to clients. The answers convert into prompts for the AI tool to create an image of the client’s proposed project.
Using technology allows Walls AEC’s clients to explore their ideas with various styles, colours, shapes, and designs and choose their favourite concepts.
“We are currently in the process of transitioning to an online platform where clients will have the ability to create designs themselves. This change will empower our clients to take control of the design process, allowing them to engage directly with our AI technology and create their unique designs from the comfort of their own space.
“For our team, this means we understand our client's vision and approach better when we start the actual design modelling,” says Mr Zakaria.
He adds, "This process saved us roughly 10 to 20 working days of the average project timeline. In our experience, it usually takes around 100 to 120 days to reach BIM LOD400, a milestone that outlines the basic information about the construction of various project elements. We’re saving approximately 10% of the project timeline and continue exploring other methods and technologies to increase this percentage further. We carefully monitor each step to maintain product quality and ensure that any time reduction does not impact quality."
Samah Mustapha, Head of the Design Department and VDC Manager at Walls AEC, explained, "AI is still in its early stages but is already causing significant shifts in business operations. The best is yet to come."
Mustapha further stated that Walls AEC believes there is a long journey before AI can revolutionise their sector. However, as AI advances, the company plans to combine its expertise with AI's impressive abilities in analysing, organising, and generating designs and information. She emphasised that the main challenge is identifying where and how to apply AI for the best results. By adopting this strategy, Mustapha noted, Walls AEC will boost productivity tenfold, allowing them to devote more time to other vital aspects of their projects.
Upon optimising its processes and workflow, Walls AEC has successfully managed more projects utilising the same team members, bolstering the company's confidence to extend its services beyond Kuwait. Currently, Walls AEC has begun pursuing new opportunities in Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Hashem shares, "Our ambition is to achieve global expansion and enhance our services to become the most efficient, empowering individuals with limited budgets to bring their dream projects to life."
"Walls AEC is dedicated to constantly enhancing our 'systematology' and workflows, aligning our processes with our vision for the future of the AEC industry. By adopting the latest technological advancements and maintaining an open mind to new possibilities, we aim to establish ourselves as a pioneer in the industry," says Mr. Naji.
Their journey showcases the remarkable potential that technology and a strong digital strategy can unlock for businesses in the AEC industry. And, as the team continue to refine their systematology and workflows, Walls AEC is well-positioned to lead the charge in shaping the future of architecture, engineering, and construction through technology and innovation.
"With the right digital strategy, companies can attain greater efficiency, improved collaboration, and deliver higher quality projects, ultimately driving growth and success in the competitive AEC landscape."Mr. Zakaria Naji, Co-Founder and CEO, Walls AEC
Mr. Naji also underscores the potential influence of their approach on other businesses, stating, "Our consistent efforts to push boundaries and explore new horizons in the AEC industry may inspire companies of all sizes.
"By investing in Autodesk Construction Cloud, even smaller firms like Walls AEC can reap the benefits of technology. As the industry evolves, embracing technology and digital innovation will be crucial to staying ahead. With the right approach, businesses can thrive in the competitive AEC landscape."Mr. Zakaria Naji, Co-Founder and CEO, Walls AEC