Axalta Coating Systems Ltd is a leading global coatings provider dedicated to the development, manufacturing, delivery, and service of liquid and powder coatings. With over 150 years of experience in the coatings industry, they provide their customers with innovative, colourful, and sustainable solutions.
Marco Schuh, BIM Manager at Axalta, has worked in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry for the last 20 years. In his various roles, Marco has witnessed the vast expansion of computer-aided design first-hand and has seen Business Information Modelling (BIM) use and demand rapidly increase.
In 2019, Axalta’s plant engineering subsidiary business based in Wuppertal, Germany began exploring how they could move some of their local project data from a local server into the cloud. The team wanted to be able to host and store project documentation centrally in a secure environment and embed digital workflows for this business unit to aid communication and collaboration.
With many different document management practices happening on the ground for the plant engineering team, ensuring standardised document management processes were implemented smoothly was very important. Alongside this, the team also needed to find a solution that allowed everyone to access the documents they needed wherever, and whenever they needed them.
Working in a plant environment with tight timescales means that the team at Axalta cannot afford to lose project time due to poor communication because of missing project data. The team were already using a server solution for internal documentation, but it limited their ability to successfully access, track, and collaborate on documents in a transparent way.
After a period of exploration, Axalta concluded that BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud™ was the right technology for Axalta’s needs with a focus on improving communication. To implement the solution successfully and smoothly, Marco partnered with Autodesk’s customer success team and their local reseller partner, Mensch und Maschine Deutschland.
“Our projects are time-critical, so we need smooth, transparent, clear communication and filing to know where project data was stored as we transitioned from our previous system to BIM 360.”
The team at Axalta were aware of the long-term negative impacts that could arise from disruption to ongoing projects, so they created a comprehensive transition plan. The plan, which spanned a 12-month period, involved an elaborate transition process which included a testing and a migration phase. This happened in parallel with Axalta’s ongoing day-to-day regular processes, so the team were managing two ways of working at once. Working in this way helped to minimise any interruptions or delays to ongoing work and allowed the team plenty of time to understand and prepare employees for new ways of working within the team.
“BIM 360 gives us a single source of truth, transparency between all project stakeholders, and accessibility from anywhere meaning we’re all much better informed during a live project than we were before we started using BIM 360,” says Marco.
To ensure all the external collaborators and partners were safely and comprehensively introduced to the solution and the new ways of working, Marco created an internal handbook for project team members to use with a complete overview of the BIM 360 project workflows that would be rolled out.
Internal plant maintenance projects and construction projects for new plants began using BIM 360 for document management and digital workflows. The team began with a focus on document management practices but soon expanded into using other capabilities BIM 360 had to offer. Naming conventions and folder structures were the first areas the team focused on as well as supporting the Computer Aided Design (CAD) teams with how they could digitalise and integrate their processes with BIM 360. This involved training sessions and one-to-one support by Marco as a BIM 360 expert.
For the team, quality has increased dramatically as all project team members can be sure they are accessing one single source of truth. As well as this, standardising the team’s approach to document control and modelling has meant that all project collaborators can be sure they have the most up-to-date and accurate information they need when making important project decisions related to their tasks and activities.
“We began exploring the functionality that allowed our teams to make notes and annotations onto our models in BIM 360 which increased accountability, transparency and communication immensely. Annotating directly on the model meant that we minimise the chance of anything being missed when moving between different platforms and systems.”
For Axalta, implementing BIM 360 to create robust document management processes, digitalising workflows, and capturing project progress information in a BIM environment has not only improved team collaboration but delivered better project outcomes.
“The most popular features in BIM 360 that our teams are using are the project management, model coordination, and issues management workflows as well as the powerful approval workflows for reviews within document management capabilities which reflects how the quality of our projects are improving through the use of BIM 360,” says Marco.
After a year of testing and using BIM 360 in the plant engineering subsidiary business, the use of BIM 360 is being explored by some of Axalta’s manufacturing, construction, and engineering departments in their locations in Germany.
“We’ve also begun integrating further technology into BIM 360 such as our laser scanning workflows and we’re looking to use BIM 360 to improve our model coordination processes,” remarks Marco.
Looking to the future, implementing the use of BIM 360 on more and more projects is the focus for the team as well as harnessing data for better project insights to drive decision-making across the business.
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• Document Management
• Project Management