Digital construction keeps jobs on schedule (even when things go sideways)
We’re going to talk about something uncomfortable. Imagine this. You’re renovating your healthcare space. You approve the plans. Your team is gutting the space. You’re not making money every day you can’t help patients. Then one of your contractors tells you there’s a problem. Suddenly your dreams of walking through that glistening new space are replaced by panic. This hiccup is going to blow your schedule and rock your bottom line. Hard. Or will it?
Let’s rewind. In 2018, a world-class New York medical center was looking for a refresh. This team of medical innovators offers a 24/7 emergency department and several clinical specialties. They’re also working out of a 60-year-old building, so their look didn’t match their rep. A crisp building update was essential, but a full-floor renovation is a huge disruption (and not in a good way). In healthcare when beds aren’t available lives are literally on the line.
Not a moment to waste
Out of the gate, they had a conventional approach. Drywall and soffits worked in the past, so why wouldn’t they work this time? The general contractor Lendlease knew better. They’re a worldwide property management and infrastructure company who really get prefabricated construction. After visiting DIRTT HQ in Calgary with our Partner ForBuild, they became champions of the digital process. They experienced video-game design in ICE edge and saw our low-waste manufacturing process. They know DIRTT can save time and money.
Lendlease and ForBuild showed that a custom solution was the best way for the hospital to get what they want. Custom face-mount tile and millwork would give the space a clean, modern look. The prefabricated approach would shave time off the construction schedule. That was key.
Being cost-effective was also a priority. Knowing this, Lendlease and ForBuild showed our Client how premium DIRTT finishes brought higher quality and more durability than drywall. DIRTT goes in fast and clean (a huge bonus in healthcare) putting the hospital back in a money-making position 5% faster. That time savings turned into more than $100,000 in revenue. The fact that they could future-proof the space in a sustainable way was just a bonus. Now, this healthcare space could check all their boxes without sacrificing a thing.
So far so good, right? Well, not everything went according to plan.
Using DIRTT to clean up
DIRTT uses tech to do what we do. To troubleshoot problems. To make sure everything fits together. We love tech. And while we use computers and robots, we’re only human. Working on construction projects can be like herding cats and in this case, one or two of them got away. Our team works tirelessly to make sure this doesn’t happen. Software engineers write code to make sure that error messages don’t get missed. People working in a place called “The Hive” comb our orders to make sure everything checks out. For DIRTT a mistake is rare. But those people working to make sure nothing goes wrong are also ready to fix it when it does.
On this project, an error at the DIRTT manufacturing plant meant several outlets were sized incorrectly. Some of the tiles with med-gas access didn’t line up and the med-gas piping had to be adjusted. This is the uncomfortable moment we were talking about. The moment when most Clients give up on making their deadline. There’s a reason for this. In traditional construction this miscalculation would be catastrophic. For the team at DIRTT, it just meant we had to work a little bit harder.
Because customized DIRTT components are modular, it’s like having a built-in contingency for every project. As the install team adjusted elements on site, DIRTT worked with ForBuild. Together they rerouted the elements already in transit to the ForBuild warehouse. Technicians inspected frames and adjusted them to insure seamless assembly on site. Replacement tiles were fast-tracked through manufacturing and were ready to install days later. Teamwork gave this uncomfortable story has a happy ending. A refreshed 8,000 square foot space was delivered on time and on budget.
But that’s not all
Even during the project, DIRTT found other ways to streamline the process. As we know, Lendlease really understood DIRTT. This meant they were open to changing things up if it made sense. The initial drawings had soffit ceilings with DIRTT walls placed under them. Building down every soffit is time consuming and cutting through them to provide the mechanical is a lot of work. And messy. Using a DIRTT integrated ceiling detail wasn’t. Everything was compatible. There was almost no debris on site. Most importantly, it was faster and less expensive. Changes like this in traditional construction would set the schedule back weeks. Using DIRTT meant integrating revisions on the fly would actually save time and money.
With DIRTT, ForBuild and Lendlease working together, the hospital now delivers on their cutting-edge reputation. Even with the install hiccups, the space and the process won over the hospital. Now they’re planning to use digital construction again. This time for 11 floors of a patient/clinical support facility right across the street.
DIRTT Environmental Solutions uses its 3D software to create prefabricated interiors. Each space is tailored to our clients' needs. Manufacturing facilities are located in Phoenix, Savannah and Calgary. DIRTT works with nearly 100 construction partners globally. DIRTT trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "DRT".