The Future Begins Today

Case Study

Radl is among the first engineering companies to implement RIB’s iTWO system for model-based planning and construction.
We anticipate savings of up to 15% within the next six months,” says Claus Radl.

The engineering company Radl, a medium-sized enterprise based near Munich, uses state-of-the-art technology. It’s not an easy path to take, but the Bavarian engineers are already beginning to notice the benefits at this early stage. By improving the communication with their project partners and clients, for instance, they have enhanced the efficiency of their project handling. One of the main long-term objectives is to increase profitability. 

Visionaries in the Field of Engineering

From costing and tendering, functional work descriptions, contract award support and change management all the way to invoicing: the engineering company Radl GmbH from Karlsfeld near the Bavarian capital of Munich specialises in the preparation and control of construction projects and has successfully managed a broad portfolio of construction projects for general contractors, architects and engineers, owners and investors. Ever since it was founded in 1980 by Victor Radl, the company has been mathematically rather than design-oriented. It has always been quick to embrace new technology, installing the first PC on its premises as early as 1981 and introducing an electronic quantity takeoff system in the nineties. So it’s not surprising that Claus Radl, who succeeded his father as company manager, and his team have been using a highly modern tool since the spring of this year. They are among the first engineering companies to implement RIB’s iTWO system for model-based planning and construction and are already starting to reap the rewards.

Modern Software Technology for the Construction Industry

iTWO can be used for processing all classic alphanumerically oriented work methods as well as the modern model-based processes that offer full visual support. In this variant, the technical software combines three-dimensional geometry data with resources and time and process components. This form of model-based planning and construction has already caused a sensation in the field of research. The ENCORD group and the 5D Initiative as well as current research projects in Germany such as MEFISTO or FORBAU are increasingly turning to these modern work methods. These committees and consortia are headed by Europe’s and the world’s leading construction companies. So why is a mid-cap enterprise like Radl GmbH, which employs six permanent members of staff plus one trainee, interested in these technical innovations? What changes does a small or medium-sized company have to face before it can really start working in five dimensions? And, most importantly, does 5D pay off for medium-sized companies?

According to manager Claus Radl, the answer is definitely “yes“. The changeover from the traditional two-dimensional drawing to the three-dimensional model is having a massive impact and will establish itself as a new trend in the next few years. The reasons for this are obvious.

The manager of the Munich-Karlsfeld company regards model-based working in five dimensions as the construction method of the future, enabling architects and structural engineers to combine their 3D plans and analyse them with clash detection software and construction companies to adopt these models for their cost estimating and control. The method is fully transparent and without any media breaks whatsoever. “I’ve been looking for a solution for using digital plans as the basis for automated yet exact quantity takeoff for the last 20 years,” he reports.

New Routines

However, the model-based work method also entails new processes within the company. Whereas Radl and his staff used to be able to familiarise themselves with each step of carcassing and turnkey construction projects trade by trade, and split up the work among themselves, they now have to pull together as a whole team. “In the days when we worked purely alphanumerically, we usually received the planning data together with the project specification on paper in several fat lever-arch files,” he recalls. “Nowadays, the designers send us pdf or dwg files from which we first have to create the 3D model in Autodesk Revit Architecture.” At this point in time, everyone in the team has to have a complete overview of the entire project, i.e. carcassing and finishing work, as there is not much time for the design of the 3D models. The company normally processes 1-2 projects every week. About two weeks after the order is received, customers expect a cost estimate. So on average, the engineers only have three to four days for each 3D model. “Here we really have to put our foot down,” says the manager. The time frames are always extremely tight, no matter whether Radl is estimating the cost of an ordinary one-family house or a large shopping mall or sports centre. However, Claus Radl is convinced that he and his colleagues can significantly speed up this process in the long term. Once the model is completed and a process has been initiated, the other processes – quantity takeoff, the compilation of works specifications or cost estimating – more or less run on their own in a matter of seconds after pressing a key. “Meanwhile we have done seven models,” he reports. “The longer we work with the 5D system, the more routine we get. This will soon enable us to greatly reduce the time we currently need for creating the 3D model. On the whole we are optimising our processes already, as we have speeded up our work tremendously by using an end-to-end model in the subsequent phases – without sacrificing our high standards of quality in the slightest. “ 

Strategy for Success

Claus Radl intends to develop these benefits further to achieve his strategic goal. The company would definitely like to increase the number of construction projects it handles – which is currently 100 per year. The manager sees enormous potential in the 5D work method. In particular, he expects to enhance profitability while significantly reducing costs in the long term. “The manufacturing and automobile industries managed to cut costs by 30% using the new technology. We anticipate savings of up to 15% within the next six months,” says Claus Radl. 

More Efficient Communication

Even in this rather difficult initial phase there are still benefits to be seen. For example, the new graphic displays and analysis options have radically improved the communication between the company and its customers: Customers often search for individual items several weeks after all the information has been transferred. Say, for example, two different types of flooring are to be laid, such as parquet and carpet – a typical part of a consultant’s daily routine. If all the data the planner has are alphanumeric, it takes an immense amount of searching to find this one item. Not so in 5D. One look at the model is enough to find the required information. The former time sink has suddenly disappeared. And the customer gets the information he needs quickly and without any further ado. 

Integrated Working From Start to Finish

The members of the ENCORD group and the 5D initiative predict radical changes in the construction industry in the next few years. Entrepreneur Claus Radl agrees with them: “We made sure to venture into this new technology as soon as possible. We wanted to be pioneers, not to miss the boat,” the manager says.

His reasons for choosing the extensive software system of RIB, which allows end-to-end processing not only of engineering but also of construction tasks, were as follows: “In the German construction industry in particular, software systems of RIB have an established reputation. All over the country, more and more companies are switching over from alphanumeric RIB CSuite software to iTWO. It makes sense for engineers, especially small and medium-sized engineering companies, to go the same way as medium and large construction companies with a view to full integration and therefore economic efficiency. Today and in future.“

Industries>Architecture, Engineering & Construction>Architects and Engineers>Radl GmbH

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