Editor’s Note: Every successful project starts with a framework. A vision statement. A blueprint.
The editors of Engineered Systems are proud to present The Blueprint — a Q&A interview with HVACR engineering’s leading voices. These one-on-one discussions will examine the trade’s history, current industry trends, and the factors shaping the sector’s future.
Founded in 1949, Southland Industries is one of the nation’s largest MEP building systems firms providing innovative yet practical solutions through a holistic approach to building performance. Optimizing each stage of the building life cycle, Southland delivers customized engineering, construction, building automation, service, energy solutions, and more.
Recently, Andrew Tranovich, P.E., CCP, PMP, LEED-AP BD+C, senior project manager, Southland Industries, sat down with Engineered Systems editor-in-chief, Herb Woerpel, to discuss lean construction, augmented reality, the firm’s work at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, and more.
Engineered Systems: Please introduce those reading this article to Southland Industries. What type of services does the company provide?
Tranovich: Southland is a premier design-build mechanical and plumbing contractor with a proven track record of project success and lasting customer and partner relationships.
Engineered Systems: Define your role with Southland.
Tranovich: I am a senior project manager working on complex and challenging larger projects.
Engineered Systems: Tell me about some of Southland’s biggest accomplishments in 2019.
Tranovich: Southland completed the Moscone Center expansion project while keeping the convention center open for business, including working around ongoing shows. Southland was also awarded the largest ever single-tenant TI project in downtown San Francisco at approximately 760,000 square feet.
Engineered Systems: The Moscone Center project you reference was featured on the cover of the September 2018 issue of Engineered Systems. What part of that project is most memorable to you?
Tranovich: The most memorable part of the project to me was the teaming between the MEP teams (we sat in the basement with the electricians), the safety record (no Southland recordables over four-plus years), and the dedication everyone made in order for the project to be successful.
Engineered Systems: While researching Southland, I kept coming across the word “Lean.” What exactly is lean construction and/or engineering and why should firms across the nation be aware of it?
Tranovich: Lean principles apply to management, design, and construction. It’s a way of thinking and a paradigm to identify opportunities behind every challenge and address them accordingly. We set up our processes to minimize waste, time, and effort while generating the maximum amount of production value. For management, this can mean how we track labor efficiently or schedule the startup process. For design, it can mean laying out the least wasteful, most productive path. Lastly, for construction, it can mean staging materials a certain way and kitting parts at the shop for delivery to the site.
Engineered Systems: From an engineering standpoint, what is it that Southland does better than other firms?
Tranovich: Very simple, Southland is nimble. Engineering can adapt to changing conditions in the field the same day and provide the feedback needed to stay productive and on schedule.
Engineered Systems: I recently wrote a column on the evolution of BIM. Does your firm use BIM — if so, when did you fully acclimate it into your practice?
Tranovich: We use BIM heavily. On my current project, the large TI mentioned above, the entire tower is BIM modeled from both core and shell (by others) and the tenant improvement systems (by us). Since most problems were resolved in coordination, we train and empower anyone to fly the model to a questionable location. The trick is when the field conditions don’t match the previous model.
Engineered Systems: What types of BIM software or technologies are you using to keep you ahead of the curve?
Tranovich: BIM 360 Glue is a great lightweight way for the office staff to fly the model and get answers and screenshots for the field to proceed from a cross-company coordinated 3D model.
Engineered Systems: What’s one major trend that’s on the cusp of shaking the industry’s foundation?
Tranovich: I think AR (augmented reality) will be a major disruptor and improvement. Flying the model at your desk will seem ancient when any field crew member with a smart device can hold it up and look “through” it and see the model directly in front of them in the space. I believe this technology is a game changer and will need to be developed into something more user-friendly than a full helmet setup on a worksite while also being something anyone on the crew can use frequently to check their work.
Engineered Systems: Looking into your crystal ball, what’s the future hold for Southland?
Tranovich: The future for Southland is bright. We will continue to grow our customer and partner relationships along with the addition of new ones coming into the fold. We would like to continue to build relationships and partner with the premier area GCs as a core-trade-partner, as we have been in the last few years, and maintain our reputation as a company of quality and project successes.
Engineered Systems: Any final comments you’d like to leave our readers with?
Tranovich: Don’t think anything is impossible! We put new air handlers on a 46 story tower using a cable derrick system you would have to see to believe.