Mechwest Design and Drafting is a mechanical and structural 2D and 3D drafting and shop detailing firm whose clients are primarily in the mining and oil and gas industries.
Headquartered in Subiaco, Perth, the company has experienced significant growth since its founding in 2001.
When Matt Mason, Mechwest’s operations manager, first started at the company around 2013, he was one of just six employees.
Growing to more than 150 employees, Mechwest has opened an additional Australian office in Brisbane and an international outpost in the Philippines.
Mechwest is one of the rare firms that offers a consultative approach via integrated project delivery to its clients.
“As the shop detailer, we model everything in 3D exactly as it will exist on site—every single bolt, every hole, every tiny little bracket and item,” Mason said.
“And then, essentially, we create accurate fabrication data and reports to show fabricators how to fabricate every single item and then erect all of that on site.”
As a result, it’s not uncommon that Mechwest’s employees are working through as many as 20,000 documents per day.
Employees’ work within a single document is also breathtakingly fast: Mason said a colleague might be in a document for as short a time as a few seconds.
“It’s quite a high volume,” Mason said.
“And that’s where we’ve struggled to find systems that could cater to that volume of drawings.”
Mechwest’s ability to manage such a massive volume of drawings became challenging as the firm continued to grow.
The company’s six employees in 2013 more than doubled to 15 by 2016, when Zane Isaacs, Mechwest’s production manager, joined the firm.
The following four years to date have been marked by turbocharged growth.
Still, it wasn’t until around 2017-18 that the company’s growth, paired with its reliance on paper-based workflows, reached its breaking point.
“As we started to grow, we realised that we needed a better checking mechanism because there was just tonnes of paper that was hard to efficiently keep track of,” Isaacs said.
Prior to Mechwest, Isaacs ran his own structural steel detailing company, where he had been using Revu for about two years.
Isaacs shared with Mason his experience working with Revu and the two decided to give it a try.
Testing the software included Mechwest trying to first replicate its hard-copy process with a digital tool like Revu.
Mason said that essentially the aim was to find out whether they could copy and replicate their system into the digital space—and the answer was a resounding “yes”.
Mechwest started by rolling Revu out to roughly 30 employees, and using some simple documentation and hands-on training, Mechwest was able to get them quickly integrated in the new digital workflows with Revu.
“Once we showed them how to use the tools, Bluebeam is extremely intuitive,” Mason said.
Mechwest’s workflows mostly require using the markup tools and Tool Sets in Revu.
“We’ve got welds and particular nodes that you can just drag and drop it into the drawing, and we synchronise those to everyone,” Mason said.
Mechwest has also been using the Bluebeam compare tool to ensure the accuracy between different versions of documents.
Amado Fulleros, a senior structural checker at Mechwest, said it took him about two weeks to become operationally proficient using Revu.
“It was a little challenging at first, but gradually it became easier to work with,” he said.
One of the most critical benefits to come from Mechwest’s adoption of Revu was the standardised legibility.
Accuracy is paramount in the shop detailing business.
“Our drawings have to be millimetre perfect and that’s where Bluebeam allows us to have that, because we are having to open and close a drawing so quickly that we need to translate that information in a very quick but simple way ,” Isaacs said.
With its paper-based process, manual handwriting, highlighting and other markups had to be millimetre perfect as well—so much that Fulleros, along with the other checkers, would often use a magnifying glass to ensure that the small details in documents were precise.
Such millimetre-perfect precision isn’t optional at Mechwest.
“We’ve only got one shot of getting these drawings right—if we get them wrong, then the impact that it has on the construction side of things and the fabrication side of things is huge,” Isaacs said.
“Our cost is maybe one per cent of the whole construction cost of that, so we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and man-hours as well if something goes wrong.”
Before Revu, catching errors after documents had been issued to a jobsite could be especially time-consuming, in the form of having to physically transport paper copies to jobsites, some of which are thousands of kilometres away from Mechwest’s offices.
“Even just compiling what paper copies we would have to send to the fabricator would take time,” Isaacs said.
“It might take a whole day to get those paper copies to the fabricator, and the fabricator then has to sort through the package, push the relevant documents required into the workshop that needs to get fabricated, put them into the back of a truck and then have it transported up there.”
Furthermore, if there’s a need to audit the history of a document to find who marked up what, the Markups List in Revu becomes invaluable.
“If there was some different detail or some different checkers working on a document, you can see who individually added each comment on there if there were errors,” Mason said.
Another change to come for Mechwest thanks to Revu has been the physical appearance of its offices.
Out are large drafting desks with piles of paper; in are smaller, cleaner desks with multiple computer monitors.
By the end of the first month of using Revu, most of the paper in the office was relegated to the firm’s storage shelves.
“We were able to actually utilise the space we had in a better way,” Isaacs said.
Learn more at bluebeam.com.au.
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