Cloud and touchscreen advancements at BSBG

Christopher Day (MCIAT), Senior Architectural Technologist with BSBG describes the move towards adopting smart technology and applications in design development and coordination amongst the senior architects at the practice.

Working on a mega build project, it’s easy to become snowed under with ‘hard copy’ prints. Finding the relevant drawings when meeting at different offices often becomes physically impossible, but whether you’re working from home or site, it is always important to have the latest information to hand.

The traditional ways of keeping live sets of drawings – hanging, gathering dust, on a drawing rack – seem impractical at best, and over the course of the next few years, this practice is likely to vanish from the industry completely.

The BSBG project ICD Brookfield Place in DIFC is a high riser, mega build project, where the number drawings for the architectural deliverables alone runs into the hundreds. There are 10+ consultants and specialist sub-consultants working on the project, and so the masses of hard copy prints required was becoming wasteful and time-consuming to manage.

ICD Brookfield Place - Dubai Architecture

Through DD to CD package development and coordination, BSBG opted to trial a new strategy that mitigated printing; instead communicating using touchscreen hardware and the cloud technology available. The workflow has developed, and has significantly changed the way in which the team communicates, improving efficiency nearly tenfold. Communication plays the biggest part in successful design coordination and is predominantly the overarching reason for any delay in programme completion. Coordination mistakes can be missed, even in the BIM world.

BSBG will always adopt and embrace the latest methodologies and technology to ensure we remain leaders in the region, and assists the industry in keeping up-to-date with the ever-evolving technological benefits on offer.

The hardware

Architectural touchscreen technology - touchscreen advancements

In recent years touchscreen advancements have meant tablet and stylus pen use in architecture has been on the up, with most of the more recognisable developers advancing their hardware to meet the demands of the design industry.

Both the Microsoft Surface and the iPad Pro have their pros and cons, but upon trialling, the iPad Pro is far more responsive and feels seamless to use, once you get around the concept of drawing on glass…

We have now used the iPad Pro with the iPencil on the many great apps on offer for architects and designers. Our aim, once we understood the full capabilities touchscreen technology had to offer, has been to maximise these capabilities across all work tasks.

Applications used

Here are a few of the great applications BSBG uses in its design work:

Examples of architecture applications - touchscreen advancements

Concepts- By TopHatch

Concepts App Icon - touchscreen advancements

Concepts is the office favourite by a distance. Much like Photoshop, you can sketch with layers, and utilise many great features to capture and communicate the design. This app is a must for architects and designers looking to get the most out of touchscreen applications in design.

The Cloud

BSBG Cloud illustration - touchscreen advancements

Cloud servers come in various forms, such as public, private or hybrid, and can be very effective ways to securely collaborate with clients and project teams.

In conjunction with touchscreen technology the cloud has and continues to offer huge advantages in terms of productivity and efficiency at BSBG.

Since adopting its use, the project team has made it an objective to keep prints to a minimum. The team, not having access to tablets and touchscreens individually, began to review the comments made using Adobe and electronically highlighting as each comment was incorporated, instead of highlighting a paper copy – a company policy for QA/QC.

Additionally, it is difficult to review A1 drawings at A3 size and to see the full detail. Printing hundreds of A1 drawings is wasteful so A3 prints are reviewed which can lead to mistakes. Using the iPad allows you to zoom and see the full detail at 1:1. No more magnifying glass!

0 prints required, no loss of markups and a tracked QA/QC review process, dated and saved.

(Using Adobe for its highlighting function is fast, but when making detail comments and markups, Adobe can be time-consuming and does take longer than just printing and hand marking up the information).

The review period has become more streamlined this way and has sped up the review period significantly.

Additional benefits include:

  1. Usability –Cloud storage syncs directly to a Mac or PC’s desktop folders. This allows users to drag and drop files between the cloud storage and their local storage.
  1. Bandwidth –You can avoid emailing files to individuals and instead send a web link to recipients through your
  1. Accessibility –Stored files can be accessed from anywhere via internet

Workflow

WORKFLOW EXAMPLE 1

Receive drawing from external consultant

Save on BSBG server

Copy to project cloud (OneDrive)

Use preferred app to access cloud and comment on drawing

Upload comments back onto cloud or email direct to consultant

Save a copy on the BSBG server.

Cloud and workflow diagram - touchscreen advancements

WORKFLOW EXAMPLE 2

Project Team saves drawing for review on server

Bound copy saved to the project cloud (OneDrive)

Use preferred app to access cloud and comment on drawing

Upload comments back onto cloud – Instant notification sent to job captain

Comments saved to server

Team member to use Adobe to highlight comments electronically which have been incorporated.

Estimated TIME and PRINT saving

To give an estimate of how this process has benefited the ICD Brookfield Place project, here is a breakdown of a typical week – approximately calculated over the four-month iPad usage period compared to the four weeks prior.

Over a 4 week period as a team (approx. 5 team members) would typically print in the region of:

2000-2500 prints – One month average

This would not include external consultants/ contractor’s deliverables which could potentially double this number. 

Since using touchscreen and cloud technologies, the team has reduced this figure over a typical week by more than 90%. This number now sits at approximately:

200-250 prints!!! – Four month average (estimate)
Print time graph for BSBG - touchscreen advancements

If you were to calculate the time taken to print the drawings, go to the printer to collect the prints, bind/staple the package, this would equate to more or less the same time as to save the PDF’s into one file and upload to the cloud.

Where the time is saved, however, is in the time taken, after the drawings have been reviewed, to scan onto the server, duplicate prints if required, save into the project folder, send link to job captain, etc. This would take two/three times longer than simply uploading with instant notifications sent to team members.

Time saving benefits

To give an example of the time this saves, the time it takes to print, collect the prints, and pass to the team leader for review, team leader to then hand markup drawings takes the same time as creating a PDF and saving on the server. The time and cost saving is made by one PDF being accessed rather than duplicating hundreds of prints to pass around the team, scanning in comments, etc.

This has improved efficiency within our teams communication by approx. 15-20mins a day, which can work out to be between 1 and 2hrs saved over a typical week.Architectural design sketches - touchscreen advancements

BSBG utilises the latest technological advancements in all of its projects. To discover our portfolio click here, or learn more about ICD Brookfield Place here