A picture is worth a thousand words as the old saying goes.
That adage certainly applies to InEight Model, a cloud-based 3D virtual design construction software program that is increasingly being used by contractors.
An earlier adopter of the technology is Calgary-based Graham Construction which started using it in 2020 and has collaborated with InEight, an Arizona-based developer, to enhance the software to more fully meet the requirements of the construction industry.
“Graham is one of Canada’s premier construction companies, with the resources and expertise to undertake projects of virtually every scope, scale and complexity,” says InEight chief product officer Brad Barth on forging that partnership.
The advantage of the InEight Model is that it allows all the partners on a construction project to view, share and add information from a project BIM model, says Graham’s virtual construction specialist Karla Firth.
“The model can do simple operations like highlighting components, measurements and sectioning.”
Using the analogy of a baker inspecting and dissecting various layers of a cake, she describes “sectioning” as focusing or isolating specific sections, elements or components.
For example, if the contractor or another project partner wanted a progress update on the electrical network, then that system can be highlighted on the model allowing viewers to “dive into the details rather than shuffling through drawings.”
Those operations can also be saved for later viewing, which allows for complete collaboration within the project team, she says.
InEight Model is actually a component or tool of a much larger umbrella of applications known as the InEight Construction Project Management Software. There is a degree of integration between the two systems and that provides a range of benefits.
Having a model platform integrated into the management software allows information to flow back and forth and saves time and money during both the preconstruction and construction stages, says Firth.
As just one example, she explains that during the preconstruction stage, estimators can pull material quantities from the model to verify the figures they have calculated in their own forecasts.
And if there are design changes, the model can easily be revised to illustrate the difference between the original design and the new one which the estimators can then use as visual aid to recalculate the material quantities, says Firth.
During construction, co-ordinators are inputting the materials installed and the hours of work packages — in other words the work accomplished — and that data that is transferred to the model giving a visual representation of the construction progress of different operations at various stages.
An example might be the volume of concrete poured or the amount of piping installed on a weekly basis, she says.
Graham started using the parent management software in 2018 and then, in the summer of 2020, began testing the capability of InEight Model on a complex, multi-disciplined industrial site project.
The project team expected to simply use the model as a visual aid but soon discovered the capability of adding construction specific details. By inputting details such individual work packages, progress progression and delivery dates, “the team was able to plan out their work virtually weeks in advance prior to the work starting in the field.”
As the facility was being constructed during the pandemic, major key stakeholders were not able to travel to the site. But by harnessing the capabilities of InEight, “they had the ability to jump into the model. Instead of a physical walk through (the site), they had virtual walk through.”
Graham is now using the software on two in-design projects, one of which is the $222-million Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Renewal Project near Moose Jaw, Sask. The progressive design-build project is a joint venture with AECOM Water Infrastructure Inc.