The overall building construction process is wrought with waste as sheet metal contractors often purchase more material than they need so that their timelines are not jeopardized by material holdups. In other cases, inaccurate data can lead to overproduction of material and leave contractors with leftover material that can’t be reused.

Often, once the project is completed, this excess material is simply discarded as the "cost of doing business," which not only impacts a company’s bottom line, but also the environment.

However, the construction industry is evolving quickly with new technologies and improved methods to transform every phase of a construction project. MEP contractors and engineers are now able to eliminate waste and rework with fully constructible and actionable models.

With intelligent data to fuel fabrication, prefabrication and lean construction, sheet metal contractors can now generate more accurate material estimates that reduce waste and improve productivity and profitability across the project.

Constructible Approach

In order to eliminate waste, boost productivity and truly enable a connected team, changes must be applied to the entire supply chain. A growing number of construction companies are turning to a constructible process in which all phases and trades are connected, models and workflows are content-enabled, and data-rich constructible models drive smarter workflows.

A constructible approach can help sheet metal contractors eliminate waste by:

  • Enabling shared access to data among multiple stakeholders, which allows them to collaborate, review and make changes to a model together in real-time.
  • Simplifying the development of comprehensive models for each trade and making construction data more useful in feeding downstream work processes.
  • Ensuring real-time access to data among all stakeholders to minimize the chance for errors.
  • Fully connecting workflows so that constructible data can be shared by key stakeholders for use in fabrication, estimating, location-based project planning and more.
  • Utilization of duct fabrication software can help users track parts that have been fabricated so there is no duplication and alo nest a partial sheet or plate and then save the digital remnant for later, thereby optimizing the use of material.

Intelligent Data

Solutions that extend the design data created in the office to field-level systems also enable more precise delivery of construction elements. Data analytics solutions help suppliers and contractors to align around exactly when, where, and what contractors need during the construction process in order to create greater precision around material needs.

This helps contractors to control costs and suppliers to better serve their customers, all while reducing the amount of waste created during the construction of a building.

Model-based Prefabrication

Using data-rich constructible models can simplify the prefabrication process and provide more accurate measurements and product data to reduce overall waste. For example, ACP Sheet Metal, which specializes in the design, fabrication, and installation of duct in commercial and industrial buildings, is reaping the benefits of this approach.

Using a plasma cutting system from Mestek Machinery along with Trimble’s suite of detailing, estimating and CAM cutting software, ACP Sheet Metal minimizes its material waste while also improving productivity and safety. Using model-based prefabrication software, the ACP team can control how fittings are entered, formed, and fabricated with options for standard and specialty fittings. In addition, 3D models can be sent directly to the software to start fabrication within minutes using a cutting machine.

Estimating software is used to automatically generate fittings, inserting the correct fittings and hangers according to the specifications and pulling data from a SMACNA-based duct standards library.

According to Nathan Dills, owner and president of ACP Sheet Metal, “We’re experiencing greater output with less input and optimal material utilization. With this approach, we have increased shop productivity and cut material waste by approximately 60-70 percent and can fabricate less expensively, faster, and safer - all while reducing material waste.”

As new innovations and advancements make it easier for companies to implement process improvements, many contractors are recognizing the benefits of having access to real-time data and being able to share that data seamlessly among key stakeholders. Being connected is the greatest defense against the inefficiencies that stem from data locked up in silos. A constructible approach helps streamline construction throughout all phases of a project, eliminating waste and leading to greater sustainability - benefiting businesses and the environment for years to come.