It’s clear that no project issue is too big for global EPC business.
PERI makes forms work
As customers demand more complicated and challenging building construction, PERI Formwork Scaffolding Engineering is stepping up to the challenge by being one of the few suppliers in the construction industry able to accommodate obscure concrete building requests. Powered by Autodesk’s software suite, PERI services the needs of its clients which range from the unique scaffolding and construction requirements of the oil mining industry to the near impossibly shaped concrete buildings request by clients today. PERI is nearing completion on one of its most demanding projects in South Africa, to date. Two years and 12 crude oil storage tanks the size of two sports fields side-by-side, each.
About PERI Formwork Scaffolding Engineering
PERI was founded in 1969 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of formwork and scaffolding. Headquartered in Weissenhorn near Ulm, Germany, the company has more than 70 subsidiaries and over 120 logistics centres around the world. The company employs over 8,700 employees and generated revenue of € 1.48 bn in 2017. The company name is taken from the Greek preposition “peri” (English: around).
Before PERI Formwork Scaffolding Engineering made its first acquisition, a small South African engineering firm was quietly dominating the local construction industry with a heritage dating back to the 60’s. As one of the largest PERI resellers, the South African based firm was a strategic and lucrative acquisition for the German company.
After the acquisition was completed in 2011, Willem Adriaan (Riaan) Brits was promoted internally to Engineering Director for South Africa. Brits made the strategic decision to drive the company into the future by focusing on an improved digital offering while aligning the business with where technology is going. Today, PERI is a supplier into the construction industry and their clients are the contractors commissioned to build the project.
The water-treatment plant is at a remote site in north central Washington, located a day’s travel from the nearest metro area. Courtesy of Will Austin.
Engineers keep pushing the boundary walls, Peri keeps building them
The construction industry is starting to see a lot more requests for buildings with complicated oblique shapes and everyone is moving to more obscure concrete buildings, says Brits. “For us, that’s a great space and we have some of the best expertise in this field of construction.” He adds that this is an area of construction that relies heavily on the use of technology, at least if you want to adhere to the tight schedules and timelines. “
This is where Autodesk’s 3D animation software comes in, the software suite has given us a competitive advantage allowing us to complete some incredible engineering feats, like massive storage tankers we built in Saldanha.”
By using a combination of Autodesk’s AutoCAD, Navisworks, Revit, South Africa’s Prokon and the company’s own PERI CAD plugin, the company engineered the temporary works for 12 new oil bunkers in the Saldanha area. These bunkers will be used as a strategic oil supply for South Africa and it will also be used to sell refined oil to the rest of the world.
The risks are high, but the rewards are big
At 100m x 100m per bunker, these structures are incredibly large and feature a roof that is suspended 18m above the base of the tank. “This was a very complex build and we considered various approaches for its construction. Using formwork and building from the bottom up was just not feasible, especially considering the vast number of materials needed to be lifted 18m off the ground,” says Brits.
To overcome this problem, Brits and his team along with OTMS Co. developed a new method cast concrete, using formworks that are attached to the top of the columns and can slide across them. Using this method, they were then able to cast a slab in about 5-7 days, this is extremely fast compared to any other method.
“These forms are complex, high-risk elements and we needed to use CAD and Clash detection in Navisworks to develop these flying shutters that made this project possible,” says Brits. Notwithstanding the fact that this project required slabs to be poured 18 meters up in the air whilst ensure that the tall slender columns are kept stable against any sway or movement.
At roughly 50 ton per bay, one wrong move would spell disaster for a project of this nature. Brits says that risk management was of paramount importance especially considering the construction conditions and the fact that the wet concrete hangs off the collars attached only by friction.
Only a BIM process could ensure success
To ensure that all risks are mitigated, Brits implemented a BIM process with his team. They outfitted the construction teams with four iPads and provided 3D animation, 3D assembly guides and digital checklists to the teams on site.
This ensured that the construction teams have the relevant information on hand, but they could also flag, comment and questions issues that arise. These issues were then dealt with in real-time by Peri’s BIM coordinator and engineers. “What saved us an immense amount of time was the fact that we did not have to send the construction teams on intense training. This was a very unusual project, but we could provide incredibly detailed guides and 3D Drawings to make sure the contractors don’t miss a step,” says Brits. Of course, there was onsite BIM support but the manager could offer remote support from anywhere in the world.
Brits says this project’s success is largely based on the capabilities that Autodesk’s software has enabled his teams. Being able to avoid incidents that lead to costly time delays and ensuring constant information flow were some of the key drivers towards the success of this project.
The Prokon brand and products are known and used worldwide and have been improving the lives of structural engineers everywhere for more than three decades.
Prokon is the preferred Autodesk Gold Partner for Civil and Structural Engineering in South Africa. Prokon is an Accredited Training & Certification Centre as well as an Autodesk Authorised Developer.
Prokon is passionate about helping customers to overcome their challenges and grow their organisations. With the aim to do this in a professional, yet fun-loving way.
Prokon continuously strives to provide service excellence by understanding the business through consultative partnerships and sustainable solutions.
“Autodesk’s technologies are revolutionising the construction industry. Unfortunately, the construction industry is slow to adopt new tech and new ways of thinking. Adopting new technology is something we are pushing hard for within our industry.”
— Willem Adriaan Brits, Engineering Director, PERI Formwork Scaffolding Engineering