Sundt Construction Creates Civil Construction ToolKit to Enhance 3-D Modeling for the Industry
While there are all kinds of advice available on how to save time, it can’t be saved. Time can, however, be utilized more wisely. This objective is what inspired Sundt Construction employee-owners, Eric Cylwick and Ryan Haines, to create the Civil Construction ToolKit (CTK).
Cylwik, a Senior Engineer focusing on virtual construction, has worked on 3-D modeling for construction uses throughout his career. When he began with Sundt, he was creating 3-D animations to be used in project interviews. Eventually, Cylwik joined Sundt’s transportation group and found, “the industry had great 3-D modeling tools, but they all focused on solving problems for civil engineers.” Cylwik began experimenting with engineering tools to create construction models. He came upon a challenge and identified a valuable outcome but could not get there with the current tools.
Around that time, Haines joined Sundt and found himself teaming up with Cylwik to bring the CTK to reality. Haines, a virtual design and construction app developer, grew up in the construction business, as his father owns a general contracting firm. While in college, he studied math. The chance to utilize those two elements of his background pleased Haines. “I was intrigued to combine my field experience in construction with my math background,” he said.
Regarding Haines’ contribution to the CTK, Cylwik said, “When Ryan came on board, he looked at this crazy idea of solving construction problems with an engineering tool and knew there was a path forward. If we could develop a frictionless tool for estimators, the technology could help bring the entire industry forward.”
A More Sophisticated System
The CTK, which Cylwik and Haines view as a contractor’s connection to an infrastructure model, is a collection of tools for construction teams to give them all the data from a design model in a meaningful way. While there are other tools out there, Cylwik said, “They focus on rough and crude methods to derive quantities or are focused on making engineering models. CTK spans the gap as it leverages design data to produce construction data.” CTK meets the immediate industry need for model-based quantity takeoff by providing volumes, areas, lengths, counts and weights.
Beyond just quantifying, the output from the software is streamlined for uploading to estimating software. The result is a 3-D model containing all quantities necessary for construction estimating. “CTK empowers estimators to use their time where they can add value to the project,” Haines said.
Ultimately, CTK enables contractors to leverage 3-D models as the single source of information, communicating design intent to the entire team throughout the project lifecycle. The results are highly efficient design and construction for transportation projects.
The single source is key said Cylwick, “Everyone is looking at documents and recreating it in their own mind. The CTK offers a single source for the design team to implement and the engineers have access to it as well. This means there is no need to re-interpret the construction documents.”
Reducing Takeoff Time
Using the CTK is advantageous during the project pursuit as it streamlines model creation. Since real project data is put into the CTK, the outputs are accurate quantities and 3-D models. During quantity takeoff, CTK is shown to reduce takeoff time from about 25 percent of the overall estimating effort down to near 0 percent. After the contractor is selected, the information in the model can be exported as survey and automated machine guidance data for use during construction. Contractors can focus on constructability and performing the work, rather than quantification or survey calculations.
Cylwik emphasizes that the overall preconstruction duration remains the same. However, the time shifts from quantification to construction evaluation, which is where contractors provide value. Constructors can consider and weigh in on the correct equipment and proper maintenance of traffic plans leading to the least amount of disruption. The impact can also be felt on the bottom line.
“There is significant correlation between time spent analyzing construction solutions and the certainty of construction, ultimately reducing the duration of a project leading to reduction in costs,” said Cylwik.
Sundt has seen benefit over the last four years from using the CTK. Time spent on quantification has been drastically reduced. This has enabled the team to analyze new design options daily. In the past, analyzing new options required four weeks on similarly sized projects.
According to Cylwik, this has given Sundt a substantial competitive advantage. “When we turn in a proposal, we’re confident the proposed construction solutions are correct and the best solution,” said Cylwik. “We’ve had the opportunity to go through 30 options to find the best solution, rather than just one.”
Both Cylwik and Haines are excited about the impact the CTK can have on the infrastructure construction industry. With all the talk about the need for improved and expanded infrastructure in the United States, the Sundt employees believe the timing of the development of the CTK is meaningful.
Utilizing technology can only help the industry in what promises to be a busy time. “When one looks at how technology has revolutionized the finance industry, it inspires one to identify how technology will change the infrastructure construction space,” said Cylwik. He notes that in the past, the transportation industry has had a lack of innovation. However, once people hear about the technology and understand its impact on their work they want to use it. Everyone is seeking to solve meaningful challenges, not do repetitive quantification tasks.
After learning the CTK submission was selected as an Innovation Award finalist, Cylwik was ecstatic, “It’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of the CTK and how these ideas will change our industry.”
Haines added, “I’m very excited to be part of the project and represent Sundt as we bring innovation to the industry.”
Currently, Sundt is exploring how to make CTK accessible to other firms. After all, everyone appreciates using their time wisely.