How Stronger Construction Data Visibility is Driving VJS Construction Services' Success

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A Virtual Fireside Chat with VJS Senior Project Manager Ben Bergles on how Technology is Reimagining Data Capabilities Amid a Pandemic

Ben Bergles, Senior Project Manager at VJS Construction Services

Wisconsin-based general contractor, VJS Construction Services, relies on Trimble Viewpoint’s Vista construction ERP, part of the connected, cloud-based Trimble Construction One suite of solutions, to standardize data and streamline workflows across all phases and functions of its projects.

VJS Construction Services’ senior project manager, Ben Bergles, recently spoke with Trimble Viewpoint about how data visibility has been critical to its success. Here is a segment of that discussion:

Trimble Viewpoint: Tell us a little about VJS Construction Services and what drives your business.

Bergles: VJS is one of Wisconsin’s premier general contractors, construction managers and design builders. We specialize in developing education, senior living, housing, retail, manufacturing, medical, corporate office, religious and government facilities.

View of VJS crane from top of project site.

Trimble Viewpoint: When COVID-19 emerged, you were in the middle of a project that presented some unique safety concerns. Can you tell us about that experience?

Bergles: We were in the middle of a renovation and construction project at a retirement community, Saint John’s on the Lake, when COVID-19 began to take hold. The multi-phased project began in 2018 with the construction of a 23-story residential tower with underground parking, skilled nursing facilities, assisted and hybrid living, and independent living apartments.

A few weeks into phase two, we set out to demolish an adjoining three-story health services building, but it quickly became clear that COVID-19 would drastically impact our plans. Not only did we have to take measures to keep our employees safe, but we also had to consider the health of seniors living in the community and near the construction site.

Because the existing health services building was in close proximity to the new residential tower, we had to relocate residents to the new tower before we could demolish the old structure. Separating active residents from construction workers, particularly with considerations for healthy airflow, and keeping both as protected as possible from COVID-19 added another layer of complexity to our work.

The beginning stages of the Saint John's on the Lake project.

Trimble Viewpoint: What was involved in keeping the project moving forward safely?

Bergles: Our infection control measures included twice-weekly COVID-19 tests and daily health screenings for workers. We also reconfigured the jobsite so that workers could access the areas under construction without entering parts of the building that were occupied by residents. A lot of our trade partners needed to work between both buildings during the tie-in so we installed temporary barriers to prevent airflow between the two buildings. We also did most of the demolition from the construction side of the partition so that debris wouldn’t compromise air quality for the residents.

Throughout the project, we became an integral part of the Saint John’s on the Lake COVID-19 safety team to ensure that the protocols we developed met the community’s safety requirements. It took a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and coordination between both teams to keep everyone safe and minimize disruption for the residents.

Trimble Construction One aided in increasing project efficiency.

Trimble Viewpoint: How did access to up-to-date data across the company help you complete this three-year project safely and on schedule?

Bergles: When we put together the project three and a half years ago, it was impossible to think of everything. Throughout the project we had to input, update and adjust hours and codes. We wouldn’t have been able to do that efficiently without Trimble Construction One and Vista. It allowed us to track safety, job progress, invoices, subcontracts and digitally manage documentation over the project’s three-year span.

Inputting phase codes and adjusting where some of the hours or costs were charged was necessary throughout the project, and Viewpoint enabled us to do that very efficiently. We’ve had Vista for nine years now, and it’s served as a very succinct reporting tool. I can’t imagine where we would be without it.

“Trimble Construction One and Vista allowed us to track safety, job progress, invoices, subcontracts and digitally manage documentation over the project’s three-year span.”

Processes that once took weeks, only took minutes to complete.

Trimble Viewpoint: Can you share with us how you’ve standardized data and its impact across the company?

Bergles: Data visibility across the company is critical for our long-term success. We migrated to Vista in 2012 to improve job cost accounting and access accurate reporting in real-time. Integrating it into our accounting functions was easy because it’s very user-friendly so everyone picked it up quickly.

Since then, we’ve expanded access to data beyond the back office. Invoices, job progress reports, production units and labor hours are generated in the field. Any data that is captured in the field is automatically routed to accounting for approval. This reduced a process that would take weeks down to minutes, and with all the data on hand, accounting teams can process invoices as they come in. With real-time data collection and analysis, we always know exactly where projects stand.

The modern, connected technologies of Trimble Construction One are not just driving growth for VJS today, they’re empowering and positioning the company for long-term success with real-time data visibility that keeps both the business and its projects profitable. Ready for your own transformation? Contact Trimble Viewpoint today.

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Kati is a customer and social marketing specialist at Trimble Viewpoint, enthusiastic about all things marketing and construction.