June 4, 2020
Digital fabrication can save a considerable amount of time compared to traditional building methods, but a seamless installation plan is key. Image taken prior to COVID protocols. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

This article was originally published on the Digital Building Components blog.

Communicating installation sequences for prefabricated systems can be challenging, especially under tight schedules. While digital fabrication can save considerable time compared to traditional building methods, a seamless installation plan is key to achieving that savings.

“In the past, sequences were sent by PDF and required assumptions on details that frequently changed,” said Rudy Trujillo, operations support at Digital Building Components. “Panels were stacked on trucks based on these assumptions. The process wasn't well-defined, and this created jobsite issues when the stacking order differed from the general contractor’s installation plans.”

To deliver the schedule and efficiency benefits of prefab, project teams need an easy and accurate means of communicating the installation sequence.

Digital Building Components, DPR's strategic partner that manufactures custom prefab systems, has an app for that. Using model-based sequencing, Digital Building works with the general contractor to lay out an execution plan that maximizes schedule advantages in the delivery process. Once established, this sequencing plan becomes the basis for tracking digital fabrication delivery and installation. Working with another strategic partner vConstruct, Digital Building developed this app to streamline the communication process while enabling earlier and more detailed installation sequencing.

The app calculates how many panels can be installed per day and once that capacity is reached, moves to the next day. Photo courtesy of Digital Building Components

Using the App

The Digital Building Components iOS app allows project teams to order building components in the sequence they’ll build a project. In the app, project teams work with the current fabrication model. This eliminates the need for assumptions. The user clicks panels in the order they will be installed. The app then relays the information to Digital Building.

Access: The user – typically the installation superintendent – requests access. Once Digital Building has verified the right person is doing the sequence, they are invited to use the app. The user must also have access to the project in Autodesk.

User Input: The user enters the installation rate in linear feet/hour, along with the number of hours worked per day. Using the current fabrication model, the user taps each panel in the order it will be installed.

Visual Display: As each panel is tapped, the app displays a color-coded number corresponding to the order in the sequence. The app calculates how many panels can be installed per day and once that capacity is reached, moves to the next day. When this happens, the panel numbers change colors. For example, all panels that can be installed on Day 1 will have a red number. Once Day 1 is full, the numbers change to blue for Day 2. This allows the project team to see if they can meet the desired schedule based on the entered installation rate. For example, the app may indicate that with the given parameters, the installation will take too long. The user can then make adjustments to complete the work within the desired window.

Completing the Order: When the user is satisfied with the sequence, they send a summary report to Digital Building to complete the process. The sequence data is directly applied to the panel numbers in the digital model and the panels are stacked in the correct order.