Gilbane, a leading integrated construction and real estate development firm, serves prestigious clients including Saks Fifth Avenue, Deutsche Bank, CVS, AstraZeneca, SAP, Reebok, Goodyear, Wells Fargo, Hilton, Crate & Barrel, ExxonMobil, the Cleveland Clinic, Boston’s Fenway Park, and others from its more than 45 offices around the world. The firm was ahead of the curve when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to scramble for ways to boost remote work productivity. An avid user of Matterport, Inc. spatial data solutions since 2016, Gilbane had already standardized use of digital twins for its job sites, accelerating its design-build processes with great success.
“We've been very fortunate. Our business did not slow down over the past two years, thanks to innovative and creative planning using tools like Matterport. It’s been extremely beneficial,” says Joel Vande Boom, Director of Strategic Projects – Midwest, Gilbane. “The pandemic opened our eyes to how we can be more efficient, forever changing the ways we manage people, places, and things. Enhanced digital workspaces based on Matterport technologies are only just starting to demonstrate their value.”
Even as many municipal functions, such as site visits and inspections, were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilbane was able to continue driving its projects forward. “We were prepared for the future due to our use of digital twins, so even when city inspectors couldn’t come on site in person, we were able to complete some inspections virtually,” says Vande Boom. “Although inspectors are now back to doing physical site visits, the digital twins still help if we have items that need to be reviewed behind walls and ceilings to evaluate critical site conditions such as egress pathways to quickly address collaboratively via web conference.”
Building Business with Matterport
Six years ago, Vande Boom delivered his first digital twin for one of his customers, a leading U.S. bank with more than 1,000 branches.
Gilbane captured a floor of the bank’s corporate headquarters building for the handoff at the conclusion of its work. The bank’s team was very impressed with the immersive digital replica, allowing them to walk through the office space virtually to review the results of the remodel and show it off to stakeholders. After Vande Boom’s first positive experience, capturing digital twins became a routine service that propelled additional projects for Gilbane with the bank.
Since then, Gilbane has engaged in an eight-year retail bank branch renovation initiative with the bank, involving digital twin captures for nearly 500 branch locations. Matterport technology helped keep work on track even during the COVID-19 pandemic, streamlining Gilbane’s remote collaboration with external design agencies, contractors, and vendors.
“In a single four-hour, online meeting, we designed and went through 21 branch locations using Matterport. That’s 21 times our team avoided a day of time lost to traveling to a physical location, which translates to 168 hours working hours saved,” says Vande Boom.
Capturing Highly Accurate Digital Twins
Vande Boom oversees upwards of 400 projects at any given time for more than 20 Gilbane customers in education, healthcare, and retail, among other owners of commercial and office space. The company uses Matterport, Inc. Pro2 3D cameras to capture high-resolution digital twins, not only at the outset of a new project, but also to capture progress and final status before handover to the customer. Vande Boom’s team maintains a small fleet of Matterport Pro2 3D cameras that are sent to job sites as needed.
“Matterport Pro2 cameras provide very accurate and useful 3D scans, particularly for the baseline,” he says. “Reliability is essential in design and construction. We feel very comfortable with the Matterport Pro2 camera because we have seen from start to finish that the digital twins deliver excellent accuracy that makes virtual design decision-making possible.”
The team has also been experimenting with captures using the Matterport for Mobile app along with the iPhone 13 and iPad Pro. The small form factor of a mobile device camera is particularly helpful in smaller spaces. Vande Boom also likes using mobile captures for sectional views of larger areas and for ongoing digital twin updates.
The Gilbane team captures a digital twin with a Pro2 at each bank branch before work begins to document the 1970s-style design that was built out years ago. Another capture is performed after demolition to create a visual record of in-wall items such as mechanical and plumbing. This helps tell the story of spaces, as existing conditions are a common issue on all projects.
“With a Matterport digital twin, we can get on the same page with customers to confirm property conditions together, using reliable visual information. It makes it easier to have important conversations about how to address any challenges that have been revealed,” says Vande Boom.
“The rough-in phase is very important to document, so key players can see what’s behind the walls before they’re closed up for final inspection,” says Vande Boom. “Down the road, instead of making a series of pilot holes or opening a bunch of ceiling tiles, stakeholders can reference the Matterport digital history to identify where the HVAC duct and electrical conduit are located and where they’re feeding.”
Advanced Features that Accelerate Progress
The Matterport Measurement Mode tool allows the team to double-check dimensions on the fly and take screenshots to augment the documentation. “The measurement tool works really well. It’s been invaluable for our American Disability Act (ADA) accessibility improvement projects, such as when we have to check the height of desks and countertops for compliance,” Vande Boom says.
Gilbane teams also use the Matterport Notes tool to streamline collaboration. “The chat function within Notes is great. I think of it as an account communication tool. We can chat back and forth within the digital twin as we discuss different design features or ideas, helping our teams come up with better solutions more quickly,” says Vande Boom.
Using the MatterPak Bundle, team members can download colorized point cloud and 3D mesh files to help with the design process. Gilbane has also been experimenting with integrating furniture layouts within the digital twins to accelerate planning.
Supporting Collaboration and Accountability
“Especially when we have multi-site programs, Matterport technology delivers a huge benefit. We can easily toggle between digital twins and sites to examine aspects of bigger issues that impact multiple locations. As a result, team members can resolve questions together on one quick phone call,” says Vande Boom. “Matterport really helps with accountability as we move through design and build phases, saving us roughly 25% to 30% in time and money.”
Gilbane captures a final scan at the end of projects too. “It’s valuable for the punch list, aiding our communications with the customer, for example, about whether there was a ding in the wall at the time of handover. The digital twin provides that single source of credibility to help both sides navigate project completion,” says Vande Boom.
The team uses Mattertags to detail key features in the construction of a building and its systems, linking to helpful information and procedures to maintain the facility, as part of digital twin-enhanced Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manuals it hands over to clients like Columbus, Ohio-based State Auto Automobile Insurance Companies. Gilbane has sometimes also used this approach for rough construction submittals, the official documentation that the materials used in the project match the intent of the architect, engineers, or property owner.
Gilbane has standardized on Procore project management software, enabling staff to use the Matterport Showcase Procore integration to easily access digital twins from within the Procore application while reviewing documents or submittals. Matterport digital twins are commonly added to each Procore project as a one-time action, after which all collaborators on a Procore project can seamlessly view the digital twins, eliminating toggling between multiple windows.
“Reliability is essential in design and construction. We feel very comfortable with the Matterport Pro2 camera because we have seen from start to finish that the digital twins deliver excellent accuracy that makes virtual design decision-making possible.”
— Joel Vande Boom, Director of Strategic Projects – Midwest, Gilbane
Building on Generations of Excellence
Gilbane takes pride in its 150-year reputation for excellence as it embraces the latest generation of technologies to sustain its growth. For the company, the ability to continually improve processes helps drive new success, with Matterport technology enabling teams to save more than 1,000 hours on project work by eliminating travel and site visits to 300 sites.
“Matterport provides us with innovative technology to become an indispensable partner for our clients,” Vande Boom says. “With all our projects, time is of the essence. Digital twins help our teams work with greater collaboration and efficiency, ultimately providing superior service that wins us repeat clientele.”
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