As Benson Industries’ business expanded, the need to collaborate across time zones with a wider range of teams began complicating design processes. Here’s how they overcame communication challenges with streamlined collaboration efforts and accelerated design processes, resulting in 40 percent fewer product errors and 50 percent faster processes. Article by Autodesk.
Benson Industries Inc. is the premier custom curtain wall and external cladding subcontractor in the United States and Asia. With a portfolio that includes the UN Secretariat Building in New York, The Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, and The Tower One (Freedom Tower) at Ground Zero in New York City, Benson has worked on the most iconic construction projects in the world.
Established in Portland, Oregon in 1926, Benson has since expanded its operation to Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, and Manila, with a full-time assembly shop in Otay Mesa, Mexico.
“We do everything, including designing, manufacturing, putting the units together, and installing them on the building,” says Benson Industries Inventor Administrator Radu Stancescu. “Every project is different because every building is different.”
Communication barriers lead to business failure
To streamline design processes across a globally dispersed and complex enterprise, Stancescu invested in Autodesk Vault for product data management, AutoCAD for 2D modelling, and Inventor for 3D mechanical design, documentation, and advanced product simulation.
But as Benson’s business expanded, the company’s need to collaborate across time zones with a wider range of internal and external teams, including tier one and tier two contractors and suppliers, became more complicated. He confessed that email, phone, paper-based processes, as well as VPN and FTP, were causing collaboration barriers, which in turn led to critical shipping delays, design errors, and quality failure.
“We used to just send emails and wait for a response from our foreign offices, but that created long email threads that made finding questions and answers difficult,” says Stancescu. “Email was taking too long to solve problems and phone was not a solution because of the time zone differences. And using FTP to share files with other locations also presented issues, because the other party may not have been granted access to the file, maybe the server was down, or other restrictions.”
To reduce product errors, accelerate time to market, improve collaboration across the global enterprise, and maximise its investment in its Autodesk products, Benson turned to Autodesk’s collaboration tools, specifically Shared Views and Fusion Team, to improve data and knowledge sharing and streamline design processes.
Collaboration tools for today’s manufacturers
Shared Views enabled Benson’s design team to create online visual representations of models and designs; this, according to Stancescu, was ‘a perfect tool’ for sharing a file with a customer for approval or providing sales teams easy web access to files for on-site presentations without the need to access a complete CAD application.
“Shared Views solved everything for us by enabling us to share document views between our offices and outside teams,” says Stancescu. “Shared Views enables a very fast collaboration process compared with old-fashioned methods. We know who said what and when, and it’s all very clear. Also, you know exactly which people are involved.”
Shared Views allows disparate teams across the Benson enterprise to add comments, markups, and screenshots, as well as print and support 2D and robust 3D formats. “What’s especially nice is that in 3D, you don’t need to open the document on your computer,” he says. “You can zoom in, zoom out, pan, orbit, fit it to the screen, and more. It’s a tool that has everything you need.”
In addition to Shared Views, Stancescu championed Benson’s adoption of Fusion Team, the cloud-based centralised source to create, manage, and share project data, review and discuss designs, track project updates, and comment and mark up projects.
“The difference between the two collaboration applications is that Shared Views allows you to share information, but you cannot download anything—it’s just a communication tool,” says Stancescu. “But Fusion Team allows you to share information from Vault with other contractors who don’t have access to Vault outside the office.
“When something gets shared from Vault to Fusion Team, design teams get instant access to thousands of documents immediately whereas with VPN they’d wait three hours. Now we don’t have to share documents on an FTP site. It is actually saving us hours and hours, and we know it is accurate because it goes straight from Vault to the computer.”
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