Philippe SAPIN is heading the Methods department in the subsidiary of Toulouse of Vinci Construction, the largest contractor in France.

Inside a Methods department

“The main assets of the MethoCAD software are its AutoCAD platform, its easy handling,

its efficient outline, its easy-to-use 3D modeling, its automatic creation of bills of quantities and its regularly updated and large library” remarks Philippe SAPIN, head of the Methods department at Vinci Construction, from his office in Toulouse. At the head of a growing department now employing 7 people, Philippe SAPIN has been using the MethoCAD software since the creation of his Methods department in 2004. “Today, the typical structure of a Methods department is essentially pyramidal with a team of project designers working under an engineer. The snag was (and still is) that it was very difficult to find project designers to suit our needs. I therefore decided to hire young general engineers, who quickly became autonomous and could check and develop entire plans for building sites through CAO.” The department has since obtained six MethoCAD licenses. “MethoCAD is a substantial investment (6000 euros per license), although the materials and software only represent 6% of our total expenses” remarks the head of the department. “However, our increased productivity thanks to MethoCAD far outweighs the costs”.

In the case of formwork, MethoCAD enables the user to validate material turnaround, therefore allowing him to check if there is adequate material (in terms of quality and quantity) during long production sequences, facilitate and coordinate the turnaround of tools with cycles of crane loads, and manage timings and time limits. “For the forward planning of formwork, and according to studies in building site analysis (work rates and zoning), this software enables access to a large number of single elements for any given level” adds Albert Fitoussi. Further more, the allocation of materials (in particular formwork) is done quickly and semi-automatically. With regards to costing, the savings are twofold: the optimization of materials required for the building site with pre-established bills of quantities for consultations and bookings of the site, and the automatic creation and editing of the rotation book (graphic versions for day to day planning).

15 tower cranes on one building site

This project in Toulouse, located at the ZAC des Pont Jumeaux, dealt with general contractors on behalf of the French property developer Bouygues Immobilier. It consists of the construction of 240 houses in accession, 48 for the AFL and 62 for the OPAC of the city of Toulouse. The program was split into four blocks, each with a different architect, with a total of 15 cages of one to two level basements, representing 25,000m2 of the SHOB. The installation of the construction site was planned and designed by the Methods department of VCF SO with the help of MethoCAD. The software allowed the automatic drawing of cranes in an elevation view, in order to check for interferences and anti-collision controls, and to verify possible loads at each lifting point.

“The characteristics of the major cranes available on the market are stored in the database and are regularly updated; all the user has to do is select the manufacturer, the range, the model, the chassis-type, the height under hook and the jib-length” explains Philippe SAPIN. For five cranes in interference 2 to 2 or 3 to 3, the first task is to set up the machines in order to cover all areas of construction whilst assuring their supply and mobility. After determining the loads, the jib-lengths and chassis, the calculation of the heights under hook must confirm the assumptions made during transactions with the materials department in order to precisely identify the level of the foundations.

With the MethoCAD software, the user can also view a graphic representation of the logistics of the supply of the construction site (cement mixers, articulated lorries etc.) and check the volume of circulation on the site. “One of the difficulties on this construction site was the PIC (site installation plan),” adds Philippe SAPIN, “as due to the high number of cranes, it had to be modified several times.” It is because of this that interest in this type of software has grown; the PIC can be quickly reviewed and modified following changes to the building site. Modifications are made through simple data-input, making it possible to automatically update crane elevations, the coherence of various view-points (elevation plans, bills of quantities) and storage areas etc. “MethoCAD enables instant reactivity as modifications appear immediately on all preliminary generated sections” concludes the head of the department.