The New Meadowlands Stadium—now named MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J.—was a massive $998 million, 2.2 million-square-foot open air arena, designed and constructed by Skanska USA Building, Parsippany, N.J. As a design/build project, it was critical for Skanska to understand, in real time, how the supply chain was performing and the current status of the production, quality control, delivery, site preparation, and installation of the critical-path precast members. To effectively manage materials across the supply chain for just-in-time delivery, Skanska turned to Vela Systems and Tekla Corp. to provide a Field BIM solution.

Specifically, Skanska needed to track the more than 3200 precast concrete pieces that formed the seating bowl of the 84,000-seat stadium. Each of these pieces weighs about 45,000 pounds and measures 44x10 feet. What’s more: each piece was custom-made for a specific location within the bowl, and, generally, they were not interchangeable. A just-in-time delivery system meant that Skanska didn’t need to establish a laydown yard, but instead relied on a small holding area. The goal was to install the precast pieces shortly after they arrived to speed production. However, this type of system meant that if the wrong piece was delivered or failed to pass the stringent quality controls, there would be no place to store it until the correct piece arrived, causing backups and cost over-runs.

To avoid this, Skanska adopted a solution codeveloped by Vela Systems, a company that makes mobile field software, and Tekla Corp., which provides building information modeling (BIM) infrastructure management software. When integrated with Vela Systems’ software, BIM becomes not just a design tool, but a full-fledged construction operations solution. This new use of BIM is called Field BIM.

First, the precast concrete pieces were outfitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, or “smart” tags, at the fabrication facility. These pieces were identified by an RFID reader communicating with a tablet PC that had Vela Systems Materials Tracking software installed. As the pieces moved through the production process, materials tracking information fed into Tekla Structures—a BIM solution that handled the entire structural design process from conception to detailing, fabrication, and construction. With this combination, Skanska could identify the pieces that had been fabricated, their quality assurance status, which jobsite areas needed to be prepared for arriving panels, and what material had been incorporated into the structure.

The status of each query was apparent through the use of different colors in the Tekla 3D model. Skanska estimates this combined solution accelerated the construction schedule by 10 days and created $1 million in savings. “I never had to ask whether precast concrete components were ready for the following week’s work,” Campbell says. “The answer was always readily apparent on the computer screen. We’re never going back to paper and pencil.”