As part of our desire to be “ever forward,” DPR is constantly looking for new technologies to improve the way we build. Building information modeling (BIM), paperless jobsites, laser scanning, 4D sequencing, and total station layout are just a few of the technologies highlighted here.

April 14, 2017

Field Review: Laser Scanning for Concrete

At a time when recent reports say the construction industry isn’t changing fast enough, DPR Construction has earned international recognition with an award from Fiatech, an organization whose focus is “innovation that builds the world.”

During Fiatech’s 2017 Technology Conference and Showcase in Orlando, DPR’s Josh DeStefano accepted a Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) Award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category on behalf of the entire organization. The CETI award recognizes DPR’s development of a new, quicker method for measuring the flatness of concrete floors in partnership with Rithm, a software developer, and Faro, a maker of 3D imaging devices.

Josh DeStefano accepts the Fiatech CETI award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category. Photo courtesy of Ken Frye

You can have a floor that passes the current standards, but still have constructability issues in the field. Today’s ASTM E1155 standards mention a basic assumption that you can’t measure every square inch of the concrete deck for flatness.

Now you can.

Over the past year and a half, on multiple projects, DPR has pioneered the measurement of concrete flatness with 3D laser scanning technology as an improvement over traditional methods of measuring. When DPR self-performs fundamental scopes of work, our own highly skilled craftspeople offer greater control, delivering the highest quality results for our customers.

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. Photo courtesy of Ivy Nguyen

“We can–while the concrete is still wet–make a difference on the quality that is delivered to the owner of a building,” said DeStefano. “What once took a few days can now take minutes.”

Using traditional methods, concrete is poured and then measured, with a day or more of wait time to get the results back. At that point, the concrete is already dry, resulting in a lagging indicator of the quality of the concrete—and concrete quality is especially important for technical projects where precision flatness is paramount to successful installation of sensitive medical instruments and manufacturing equipment with precise calibration requirements. DPR has gotten this process of gathering results and getting feedback to the work crews down to minutes.

“That’s what’s beautiful about the laser scanning for floor flatness. We took something that was experimental, we brought it to our jobsites and tested it, and figured out a way to implement it into our workflow, staying true to our core value of ever forward,” said DeStefano.

Data can be used to create a “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. This data can be used to create a high precision contour map, color coded elevation or “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations.

This enhanced information can help with better installation of equipment, proactive quality control and the ability to identify potential challenges before they become an issue. It can create an increasingly agile feedback loop of the BIM virtual environment, informing what happens on the field and back again.

“Ever forward is not just about keeping up, it’s about paving the way,” said DeStefano.

June 27, 2016

DPR Survives the Big One! Six-Story Steel-Frame Building Withstands Earthquake Simulation

On the world’s largest outdoor shake table at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), DPR erected the tallest cold-formed, steel-frame structure ever to be tested on a shake table. As engineers, scientists, earthquake experts and media watched, the six-story building withstood a simulation of 150 percent of 1994’s 6.7-magnitude Northridge, California earthquake, shaking and rocking, but remaining structurally intact and safe.

“What we are doing is the equivalent of giving the building an EKG to see how it performs after an earthquake and a post-earthquake fire,” said principal investigator and UC San Diego structural engineering professor Tara Hutchinson.

The project is part of a $1.5 million three-week series of tests, analyzing how cold-formed steel structural systems perform in multi-story buildings located in high seismic hazard zones. Prior to this test, the largest building ever studied was a two-story residential structure in 2013. The structure experienced accelerations of 3.0 to 3.5 G’s at the upper levels, putting a tremendous amount of demand on the “light-gauge” structural frame. Lighter than a concrete, or hot-rolled structural steel building of the same height, the cold-form, light-gauge panelized structure is strong and flexible, thus able to move with the shaking instead of against it.

“The introduction of light-gauge structural systems in areas of high seismic hazard offers owners a superior option over traditional wood framing construction from economic, quality, safety, sustainability and overall building performance standpoints,” said DPR’s Zach Murphy, who is part of DPR’s cold-form steel prefab operations team. “We believe the results of these tests and future projects will continue to prove that this is the better way to build and create higher quality, safer structures in a cost-effective manner.”

In 2015, DPR constructed the MonteCedro senior-living community in Altadena, California, using prefabricated light-gauge panels. While the direct costs were close to wood-frame construction, additional savings were realized through faster schedule, better fire resistance and higher quality framing. DPR also recently built student housing at Otis College in Los Angeles using cold-formed structural framing.

Full video of this week’s shake test can be viewed below:

Scott Reasoner (DPR), Steve Helland (DPR), Tara Hutchinson (UCSD), James Atwood (DPR) and Kelly Holcomb (Sureboard) celebrate the performance of the prefabricated light-gauge structure in San Diego, California.

October 12, 2015

From Paper to Paperless: Maximizing a Project’s Efficiency in the Digital Age

With the responsibilities of each construction professional growing daily, kick off your next project with everyone on the same (digital) page. Maximize your team’s efficiency in design and construction through the use of paperless jobsites—a topic of discussion at a recent Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter event.

Attendees gained an inside look into this practice through the eyes of an architect, general contractor, and subcontractor. Some of the lessons learned and trends discussed included:

  • It’s not just for millennials. Many seasoned construction professionals are embracing the shift, with teams sharing 100% digital project files and using iPads in the field. During the submittal approval process, we see an average savings of ten days/each submittal approval. During construction, tech-savvy subcontractors gain real-time communication with the jobsite. The result is seamless communication, improving the ability to manage change and meet schedule milestones more efficiently.
  • It’s vital to select the necessary processes and supporting tools before starting a project. Bluebeam Studio, PlanGrid and Box are just a few digital tools used to collaborate. The means and methods of consistent file structure are equally as important as the tools themselves.
  • “Human interaction still prevails,” said William Santiago with HKS Architects, Inc. By blending human interaction with real-time technology, we’re able to bring the industry forward, together.

Joining William and me on the panel were Kali Bonnell with DPR Construction, and RayC Southern with Baker Concrete. HKS and DPR worked together on the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute (a paperless jobsite), and Baker worked with DPR on the FIU Academic Health Science Building 4.

Photo courtesy of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter

July 30, 2015

18 Years of BIM

The industry has evolved in the last 25 years since DPR was founded. Building information modeling (BIM), however, has been a part of DPR since the early days of the company. As a long-established leader in virtual design and construction (VDC) and BIM, we know that it's not just the technology alone, but the smart use of technology that can help the right project team deliver predictable results and improve project efficiency.

We used an early version of BIM in 1997 on a project in the Bay Area for basic site logistics, visualization and construction sequencing to identify time/space conflicts.

Ten years later, DPR achieved a major breakthrough on Sutter Health’s Camino Medical Group Mountain View campus, which completed in 2007. Camino was the first DPR project to use a combination of BIM, integrated project delivery (IPD) and lean methodology.

On the Camino project, the team's strategic use of BIM on the 250,000-sq.-ft. outpatient medical center resulted in an estimated cost and time savings of at least $9 million and six months over the traditional CM-at-risk approach. Since then, the benefits and services of BIM have continued to evolve.

Now, almost ten years after the start of the Camino project and 18 years since we first started using it, we use BIM on 85% of our projects before work even begins in the field.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one

Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

June 29, 2015

The Evolution of Projects, Processes and the Profession

How has the construction industry changed in the last 25 years?

Technology is only part of the answer.

In 1990, “The FedEx pick-up deadline and fax machines were the drivers of the day," says Martin Fischer, director of Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE).

"Even a single computer on a jobsite was a big deal,” he continues.

How have innovations and pressures added to project complexity? How has project delivery shifted? What's the difference in the workforce? Learn the answers to these questions and more in the cover story of the latest DPR Review.

Check out the differences in technology from 1990 (pictured left) versus today (pictured right):

February 10, 2015

BIM-Enabled Virtual Reality at VA Hospital Renovation

At a renovation project within a working hospital at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS), DPR is using Oculus Rift goggles to let end users virtually walk through BIM mockups. The team broke ground on this beta technology, which was originally created for the video games industry.

Using the goggles, end users (doctors and nurses, in this case) can explore the finished space and give feedback before construction begins. Given the portability of the system, the team can set up user feedback sessions easily and quickly, which is essential given the hospital staff's limited availability as well as space constraints.

How has the team's use of this technology benefitted the project?

  • Creating an immersive virtual mockup using Oculus Rift cost just a fraction—less than 15%—of what was originally budgeted for a physical mockup.
  • Virtual walk-throughs yielded more than 35 suggested changes (including added storage space and moving equipment).

Get the full story here.

Photo Credit: Mollie Shackleford

January 19, 2015

A Bird’s Eye View: Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Data Collection

On more than 15 DPR projects nationwide, project teams are reaping the benefits of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones").

Teams are using this technology for data collection. UAVs fly across project jobsites and take up to thousands of pictures. The pictures are then stitched into a large mosaic image, which project teams can use as a map to communicate and collaborate.

Pictured above: The team building the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice and Simulation at the University of San Diego uses their images and video to communicate project updates.

Learn more here: Experience a "Day in the Life" of DPR project teams that use UAVs.

Want to learn even more about UAVs in general? Here's a recent Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) about the phenomenon.

January 12, 2015

Technology Pushing Greater Service (at Lower Cost) for Life of Building

In an in-depth Q&A with DPR's Atul Khanzode, he shares the insight gained through his decade of virtual design and construction (VDC) and lean experience on complex projects. Khanzode leads DPR’s strategic VDC technology initiatives.

"It’s not so much about the specific technologies we’re using, but more about how we are applying those technologies to enhance the delivery process for our customers," he says. 

Khanzode also touches on major challenges facing the industry, what's popular in construction technology and how it's changing the construction industry. 

"The use of tested technologies is playing a key role in adding reliability to the process, allowing us to better predict project outcomes for our customers," he says.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) are helpful in data collection so teams can track construction progress (just one example of a construction technology trend)

November 18, 2014

Showcase Highlights Trending Construction Technology

DPR's Phoenix office recently held a Construction Technology Showcase to highlight the latest technology trends in construction. The showcase was held in conjunction with the Phoenix office open house, and was modeled after similar events in other regions.

DPR's technology enthusiasts staffed booths with live demos and models, explaining the technology and possible applications, as well as how we can use it to add value to our customers. 

Featured technology included:

  • real time laser scanning,
  • virtual reality using Oculus Rift headsets,
  • 3D printing, and
  • BIM 360 Glue.

Technology isn't just a magic bullet. It's not the technology alone, rather it's the skilled application of that technology and technical expertise of the builder using it that provides predictable results.

From L to R: DPR Engineers Jiun Chiang, Jose Diosdado Garcia, Andres Sanchez Hernandez, Chidambaram Somu, Andy Marks, Casey Helburg, and Brent Elliott.

Photos Courtesy of Chidambaram Somu

What's the most interesting construction technology you've seen or used lately?

October 6, 2014

Whitepaper Watch: Getting the Most Out of BIM

When VDC apps are used correctly, project teams have the opportunity to improve productivity, reduce rework in the field, enhance building documentation, and feed into management systems that can result in lower long-term facility operating costs.

In light of these potential benefits, it can be tempting to think of software as a “silver bullet” to the solution to the many complex hurdles that project teams face. But even the very best software is simply a tool and is only useful if the person (or team) who wields it, does so effectively.

In a new DPR white paper, “Getting the Most Out of BIM: The Secret Guide to VDC Apps,” DPR’s Andrew Fisher addresses those issues and more. The educational guide for owners and users describes what major apps can do and which ones currently lead the market in six functional areas: BIM authoring, coordination, visualization, analysis and measurement, sequencing and estimating.

For coordination, Autodesk Navisworks Manage stands out for its clash detection capabilities, while Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is also gaining popularity. Tapping into the power of the “cloud” to access the model, BIM 360 Glue works with iPads in the field.

For other BIM functions, some of the top applications include Lumion 3D for visualization, Solibri Model Checker for analysis and measurement, Synchro for sequencing, and Vico for estimating, to name just a few.

Understanding how to select and fully utilize the best BIM tools to their potential can create the most direct benefits to a project team’s processes, productivity and overall performance on a job.

The whitepaper was highlighted in the latest edition of the DPR Review, and can be viewed in full here.