Wills Bros, a civil engineering company specialising in large infrastructure projects, faced inefficiencies due to paper-based processes and manual communication methods. This led to challenges in version control, collaboration, and information management. To address these issues, Wills Bros adopted Autodesk BIM 360, a project collaboration system, as a common data environment (CDE) for two major projects in Scotland. This implementation resulted in improved data quality, streamlined communication, and increased efficiency. The use of BIM 360 led to reduced transmission times for drawings, faster field inspection processes, and decreased time spent on document management. Wills Bros sees the adoption of digital technology, exemplified by BIM 360, as crucial for attracting and engaging future talent and aims to continue developing BIM processes to enhance project management across the lifecycle.
Wills Bros specialises in civil engineering, working as the main contractor with multiple collaborators to deliver large, complex infrastructure projects, such as highways and bridges. Many processes were paper-based or manual, leading to inefficiencies on projects. During design reviews, information was passed around by email, with feedback and approvals tracked manually through Excel spreadsheets. Version control was a challenge, and teams risked working from outdated or incomplete documents. Issues management used time-consuming paper-based field inspections. Physical filing cabinets had to be maintained on-site in the document controller’s office involving risk through weather damage, loss or theft. Two upcoming large-scale projects in Scotland, involving expanding an airport and a 5km bypass, both with environmental and historical constraints, alongside many public sector stakeholders, meant a more effective communication and collaboration process were critical.
Some of the project goals, by using Autodesk solutions, are delivering projects to the highest quality and build long-standing relationships with clients. In addition to that, to have the right quality control processes in place and it's important to communicate effectively throughout the project. A common data environment to centralise all information in one place, where it could be accessed by designers, the site team, clients, and all relevant stakeholders.
Diatec provided a project collaboration system based on Autodesk BIM 360, including, in partnership with Autodesk, configuration, implementation, training and ongoing support services. The Wills Bros team were already familiar with other Autodesk solutions, such as Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Civil 3D, which were used in project design phases. Another infrastructure project within the company, a dualling scheme in Ireland, was already using Autodesk BIM 360 for information-sharing. Wills Bros implemented Autodesk BIM 360 as the common data environment (CDE) for the two Scottish projects in May 2019, providing both document management and field management. The platform was used by the projects’ designers, engineers, site teams and clients, supporting more efficient processes throughout the builds.
Using Autodesk BIM 360 has significantly improved the quality of data on the projects. The whole project team can access a single source of truth, minimising errors and miscommunication. Information can be included in a variety of formats, such as photos, notes, or location pins, while less data is lost through paper copies. This ensures that the client will benefit from a comprehensive, as-built record, while Wills Bros benefits from greater efficiency throughout the project management. Wills estimate a 50% reduction in the time taken transmitting drawings between team members by uploading files directly to the CDE. For field inspections, they calculate that typical action and closure times have been reduced by 75%, thanks to the digitalised process. There has also been a reduction in the time spent on document management processes, such as scanning information, maintaining folders and printing.
For Wills Bros, digital technology will play a key role in future talent management. New employees, such as graduate apprentices, find Autodesk BIM 360 fascinating. Platforms like this will be really important for attracting and engaging the best talent in future. Implementation of Autodesk BIM 360 is an example of how Wills utilise new technology to deliver more challenging projects moving forward. They will continue to develop BIM processes and tie up technology, software and construction tools through the whole project life cycle which will also enable their partners and subcontractors to play more important role in their projects.