- Ensuring Construction Possibilities
- CASE STUDY: Superstorm Sandy
- CASE STUDY: Project Systems Integration
Hunter Roberts was founded on the principles of collaboration, cohesion, and respect to reach higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Nowhere is that truer than in our use of technology.
When the company was founded, it sought to implement technology solutions that would allow its employees, clients, and partners to work more efficiently and effectively. A decade ago this took the form of enhanced collaboration applications, fully functional Enterprise Systems that eliminated the segregation of information, and encouraged employees to step out of their silos and start working together.
Today, Hunter Roberts continues to push forward and is bringing technology into the field. Showcase systems deployed across the entire company puts iPads, tablets, smartphones, and powered data collection services in the hands of our project personnel beyond the trailer. Although the construction industry has been built around brick, mortar, steel, and labor, technology is now playing a larger part as construction converges with technology.
Communication between the home office, the field, and the site trailer has been revolutionized. Hunter Roberts’ staff can access corporate data from any device, anywhere, anytime. And as we anticipate challenges and opportunities ahead, Hunter Roberts will continue to push forward in new directions with under-the-radar technologies 3D modeling in the field, 3D printing of building materials, advanced smart buildings, and off-site fabrication.
The effects of Superstorm Sandy, the second costliest hurricane in United States history, have been long lasting; progress in the wake of the $53 billion natural disaster has been slow. With areas of New York and New Jersey flooded, without power, or entirely destroyed, families and businesses were forced to prepare themselves for a long recovery.
Though Sandy locked Hunter Roberts’ staff out of our 2 World Financial Center headquarters for nearly two weeks, investments in technology allowed personnel to work nearly unabated by the storm. During the disturbance, email communications were maintained. Alerts were sent via mobile and email messages alerting staff members to updates from the city and state and providing information on shelter-in-place locations. After the storm passed, Hunter Roberts’ IT department assisted individuals with their personal recovery and reinforced safety measures on job sites. Virtual offices were opened on job sites and in residential conference rooms less than one day after the storm. Employees were paid on time, sales and senior management meetings went on as scheduled, proposals were printed and delivered on deadline from off-site locations, and Hunter Roberts began to reach out to assist clients with their own recovery.
All of this was only possible because of the four years and substantial monetary investments the company has made in disaster planning, virtualization technology, and data redundancy. Assistance from IT team members, who helped recover some 60 laptops from the shuttered headquarters and distribute them to team members in the field, was crucial. In addition to maintaining operations, the virtualization software allowed Vice President of Technology Jason Burns to drop in to each site, monitoring power use and ensuring data security. Burns and Hunter Roberts was later the subject of a feature in Engineering News-Record that shined a spotlight on the company’s technological tenacity.
“I am very happy with the enthusiasm and worth ethic of our people as they deal with an extraordinarily difficult situation,” President and CEO James C. McKenna wrote in an email to staff on November 2, 2012. “People are volunteering to take on all kinds of tasks regardless of their position or job description. This represents the true spirit and culture of Hunter Roberts.”
Hunter Roberts’ Technology division has rolled out the use of Vela Systems, known today as Autodesk BIM 360 Field, to help organize, standardize, and streamline field activities for nearly all of our projects. First implemented for the punch list and closeout phases at the Hudson Greene high-rise residential project in 2010, Vela saved time on the project schedule, proving its value. The system is now used on all Hunter Roberts projects.
Training was very streamlined. Core users were trained for several hours on the upload and use of information. Those users were then able to train additional personnel on the system. The software proved to be highly flexible to the needs of all stakeholders, allowing point-and-click adjustments to be made on the fly and the production of customized reports that fit the needs of Hunter Roberts, the Owner, and consultants.
Hudson Greene is a 1.5 million-SF complex that includes two 50-story towers, each with separate owners. There are over 500 high-end residential units, a large podium rooftop park, a 10-floor parking garage, complex curtain wall system, and many complicated details that could slow down the punch list and closeout process. Utilizing the software on mobile tablet devices allowed the project team to walk through the punch list process with shop drawings in hand, electronically tracking approvals and changes, and instantaneously distributing punch list items to all parties involved. Contractors and subs were able to quickly address punch list issues in one area of the building while ensuring the same issues were completed elsewhere before the next punch list phase began.
By saving steps, streamlining the input and distribution of information, and avoiding time-consuming rework, Vela allowed Hunter Roberts’ staff to systematically reduce a 134-hour punch list procedure for a single floor to just 33 hours. Tablets were turned over to the Owners upon project closeout and are used for building operations and maintenance.
The impact of Vela Systems is felt across all market sectors, but is particularly important for Hunter Roberts’ complex, high-profile projects, such as the iconic residential high-rise at West 57, and those with very aggressive turn-over schedules, such as the $56 million renovation of guest rooms, public spaces, and rooftop bar at a Confidential Five-Star Midtown Hotel.