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Betonmast cuts construction costs with automatic inspections

Betonmast Buskerud-Vestfold is an innovative Norwegian turnkey contractor delivering all types of residential and commercial buildings.

To stay ahead of the competition, Betonmast Buskerud-Vestfold and the team around Head of Innovation Christopher Carlsen are constantly looking for areas that can be improved by using novel methods and new-generation technology.

Challenges with prefabricated elements

A critical area has long been the installation of prefabricated concrete elements early in a project. Often, subcontractors are ordered with the task of building structural elements such as slabs, walls and ceilings. These elements have tight contractual tolerances in terms of headroom, angles, and cracks.

Deviations from these tolerances have a range of consequences such as the need for levelling floors, different painting work, or even the entire redesign of certain setups. Overlooked errors made during this phase have costly impacts on the following phases and the entire project. It is Betonmast Buskerud-Vestfold that bears the risk of extra expenses associated with delays, daily fines, rescheduling, extra work and material, and legal action.

To avoid this, Carlsen seeks to ensure that the concrete works get delivered as planned, within the specified tolerances, and before the next construction phase begins.

The company's approach to quality inspection in the past was to use a combination of checklists, spot checks and manual surveys in areas where these methods are possible to carry out.

“The QC process was so time-consuming that only 10-15% of the total areas got controlled in this way", says Carlsen. 

"If the first inspections do not reveal discrepancies, the scope of inspections is further reduced. This leaves significant blind spots for areas without the necessary control".

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Failure to detect deviations early leads to several complications for Betonmast.

The workflow gets suddenly interrupted and needs immediate attention to prevent further delays and costs from escalating rapidly. Each new issue distracts the teams from other important tasks and the frustration grows.

In theory, such extra costs caused by the interruptions and extra work ought to be borne by the subcontractors.

In reality, change orders are complicated processes where extra settlements, negotiations and disputes must be arranged.

Often, contracts are already completed and paid by the time deviations are found and interruptions occur. This leaves Betonmast with paying most or even the entire bill.

As projects grow in size and complexity, the ramifications and costs of such overlooked deviations can escalate rapidly to bigger consequences.

This can be troublesome even in small projects. In a 1,000 m² office building project, overlooked discrepancies led to added expenses of €7,000 in material that could have been avoided.

In another 6,000 m² office and warehouse project, Betonmast discovered a large number of prefab elements installed out of tolerance and had to pay for the necessary repairs. The project faced a one-week delay which had to be recouped with expensive overtime and weekend work.

Automatic 3D scan inspections with Imerso

Carlsen set out to find better ways to carry out more frequent inspections for monitoring fieldwork quality proactively.

From testing several solutions, Christopher’s team selected Imerso's platform in combination with a BLK360 laser scanner from Leica Geosystems.

Imerso's scanning app simplifies the onsite data capture process by enabling Betonmast's own employees to document the As-built status in high-precision 3D — right as subcontractors are finishing their work.

Deviations that can lead to costly consequences are quickly discovered early in the process.

Imerso’s platform automatically compares the as-built status onsite (represented by the 3D scans) against the specifications of the building plans in BIM.

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Betonmast Buskerud-Vestfold can thus require that subcontractors correct such deviations immediately, before these create problems for the next phase, or charge for added expenses in the final settlement.

Christopher Carlsen has already deployed Imerso in 15 projects, and points to several benefits that made it easy for his team to adopt the technology.

"Imerso's solution is very intuitive to use.

The mobile app integrates with the laser scanner and makes scanning so easy that anyone can do it, even without previous experience.

We take the scans we need and upload them directly to the platform without needing to export them to third-party software beforehand.

The processing time is short, which allows us to react quickly when discrepancies occur - our goal is to look at the results even within the same day.

The user interface is easy to understand and we can perform the analysis we need."

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Boosting work productivity 500%

Imerso made it possible for Betonmast to detect early any elements built outside tolerance, without spending extra time on quality control procedures.

The company now verifies and documents 100% of the relevant areas within the same time that was previously used to cover about 15% by random sampling.

In addition, this proactive approach prevents unplanned downtime, daily fines (which can easily exceed one per mille of the contract value), or the need for replanning work later in the project.

Additional costs caused by disputes and extra work to be performed by other subcontractors can now also be avoided.

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The process is leading to the creation of best practices for enabling even smoother workflows in future projects.

Through better documentation and real-time compliance verification, subcontractors recognize that they are themselves exposed to lower risk and can thus give better prices, further reducing Betonmast Buskerud-Vestfold’s costs and increasing the company’s competitive advantage.

"We use the time that we gain from better control and smoother processes to negotiate better contracts, follow up the project, and manage changes during the project proactively," says Carlsen.

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