Alan Jeffreys, Founder and CTO of ADDA
Why rebar analytics could be the answer to mega project cost blowouts.
With talk of global recessions, and residential construction feeling the impact of the economic downturns, it’s easy to forget that there are still large, critical civil construction projects underway worldwide.
And by large, we mean mega. Massive infrastructure projects that will run for many years, changing the way we travel, redefining our energy sources and regeneration projects for future generations.
While this is good for the industry, the current economic headwinds means every bottom line is going to be scrutinised ever more carefully.
Complex projects mean complex concrete reinforcement requirements. While the concrete required in a design remains fairly fixed, the amount of reinforcement required can vary dramatically due to the different needs of the structure.
New types of concrete reinforcement are emerging, however steel reinforcement remains the mainstay of construction for now. And given the number and size of these projects worldwide, it’s not hard to see that rebar is going to be in hot demand, resulting in potential increases in the cost of steel across many economies.
Our recent global study into buildability in civil construction found nearly 80% of respondents said constructability was an issue on complex projects, with designs requiring realigning, despite meeting the design intent. With concrete typically a fixed item on a build, what that realignment really adds up to is a lot of wasted steel, and the start of project cost blowouts.
Using rebar analytics to avoid cost blowouts
Rebar analytics offers to opportunity to optimize procurement and reduce project management risks, leading to a significant gain on the bottom line.
Which sounds like simple good practice, but all too often we see the benefits of rebar analytics being overlooked, and the resulting costly consequences.
Historically, we see a ‘concrete first’, rather than ‘rebar first’ approach taken to rebar detailing. But concrete is not the first commodity on a project site. Concrete is poured around rebar, and concrete-led modelling regularly fails to address complexities such as layering and buildability. It makes sense to arrange the rebar first – get that structure right up front, and you’ve immediately taken one aspect of the build off the critical path to success.
If models are created without pre-analysing clashes and buildability, then waste, delays and cost blow-outs will quickly spiral.
By using rebar analytic tools early in the project, you are de-risking the project and the cost-blowouts associated with constructability issues.
Savings at the procurement
As well as ensuring a buildable rebar arrangement, rebar analytics can identify pre-fabrication solutions that can greatly reduce rebar procurement costs, and on-site fixing times.
Procurement has typically sought to deliver financial gain by sourcing the cheapest price for the overall steel requirement. However, stock length can often be cheaper than processed steel, and pre-fabrication can accelerate the fixing of reinforcement.
By analyzing models and comparing projects using Rebar Analytic tools, construction projects can order the exact breakdown of steel required in that bulk buy, from stock to processed and pre-fabricated, and procure it at a better price than a bulk buy without variation that is less fit for purpose.
In our experience, rebar analytics programs like ADDA bring significant and quantifiable savings on rebar procurement.
With steel rebar prices hovering between US$500 and US$600 a tonne, and likely to rise over the coming years, a 5% to 10% savings created by accurate rebar modeling and therefore more efficient procurement, adds up significantly on a complex build.
And that’s just the savings at the procurement stage. The improved constructability throughout the project, with fewer clashes and delays and faster fixing, will improve outcomes, and therefore profitability, at every stage of the project.
3D rebar analytics tools
At a bare minimum, projects need to be deploying 3D rebar analytic tools to optimise rebar planning and procurement, and there are further efficiencies available through 4D (time) and 5D analysis, that present further costs savings opportunities.
Rebar analytic tools like ADDA easily adapt into current rebar detailing workflows. We are seeing major successes in the UK, where BIM modeling is mandated for infrastructure projects, as well as traction in smaller markets like Australia, and the Middle East. However, we see less use of 3D rebar analytics on complex builds in sophisticated markets like the US and Europe.
For procurement and project managers looking to make a difference, particularly in this current economic climate, rebar analytics offers significant opportunities to ensure projects get off on the right foot. We strongly encourage you to take a look at what’s on offer in the market.