CR Kennedy’s digital data driven solutions are raising the bar for the construction sector, and Fabcon is jumping in on the action to harness more control over its projects.
Since its inception, Fabcon’s operations have been driven by a passion for staying ahead of the curve. The architectural stair and structural steel fabricator consistently strives to set the benchmark for high-quality project delivery and with its recent adoption of Leica iCON technology from CR Kennedy, the company is seeing optimal results.
Fabcon was established in 2010, providing structural steel for fit-out projects in Melbourne’s CBD, which ranged anywhere from operating theatres to cantilevered entrance canopies. Specialising in complex projects, accurate data and measuring have been integral to the business’s success.
Moving forward, Fabcon now delivers an abundance of high-end architectural stair projects – and with it demands data of extremely high accuracy to ensure the best quality builds. Traditionally a lot of the company’s set-out work was done by hand by an experienced and skilled survey team. While it was effective, Fabcon’s director Hamish Christie sought new ways to further streamline the process.
“We originally looked at survey tools years ago and as soon as we started putting them through their paces, they fell over in about the first half an hour,” says Christie. “When we attended Sydney Build 2022, we stopped by the CR Kennedy stand and were quickly amazed by the team’s expertise and passion for the Leica iCON technology.”
“We’re coming into this field with a lot of knowledge, and we are not a company that can be bought over very easily, so we were asking very direct, very pertinent questions on the Leica iCON’s capabilities.
“We pushed them and to our surprise all of our questions were effortlessly answered. I think this was a lightbulb moment for my colleague and I – we realised we had found a machine that could do everything we wanted. It was perfect.”
Following Sydney Build in March of 2022, CR Kennedy provided a demonstration of the Leica iCON for Fabcon in May of that year. By February 2023, Fabcon had employed surveying specialist David Lewis to run the technology full-time across its projects.
As project surveyor and draftsman at Fabcon, Lewis works with the Leica iCON daily to conduct layout, as-built and verification tasks on projects. Previously, Lewis says, setting out would be done using points and lines from a computer-aided design (CAD) file. If any point of the design plans had to be checked during layout, the surveyor would need to go back to the computer, analyse the plans, select the relevant point in the model and upload and transfer the relevant data to the total station. The total station then had to receive that data for the surveyor to lay out that one point.
“With Leica iCON, you can basically analyse everything on the controller,” explains Lewis. “We integrate Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) models into the Leica iCON, enabling us to visualise what we’re setting out as we’re doing it, and also to zoom in on the model on the tablet when needed.”
“With this visual, we are able to completely comprehend exactly what we’re setting out, what it should look like and positioning.”
Leica iCON can also be used to check for clashes, says Lewis, ensuring each of the building components coordinate with each other and that no services have been built where the project team is trying to install.
“I love that it allows us to visualise the model and compare around it; you can look at different angles, click onto different objects, and it will give you information,” says Lewis. “You can physically check in real-time, for example a plate with 10 bolts – you can check the spacing between each bolt, as well as their size and dimension.”
Currently Lewis is part of the Fabcon team delivering tiered seating as well as other works for a project at AAMI Park. The tiered seating is a complex model, he explains, with both floor and wall mounted steel plates and between 400 and 500 bolts to secure the different plate layouts. “Projects like this require a high level of detail and accuracy that without the Leica iCON would be difficult to achieve,” Lewis says. “Leica iCON has enabled us to seamlessly deliver the project, which is almost at its completion phase.”
With over seven years in the field, Lewis has experience with a range of surveying systems but says he hasn’t come across anything as user-friendly and efficient as the Leica iCON.
“When I joined Fabcon I attended a one-day training with CR Kennedy, and within that one day I was able to grasp the concept of the Leica iCON software,” says Lewis. “I became a ‘pro’ at using the machine within a week.”
As the Director of Fabcon, Christie has similarly been involved with developing and working with a number of different surveying systems within the business. Another feature of the Leica iCON that gives Fabcon confidence, he says, is that it doesn’t allow the user to make big mistakes.
“Big mistakes in our industry can lead to cost blowouts, rework and unhappy clients,” says Christie. “At Fabcon, we pride ourselves on surpassing client expectations in quality and service.”
There’s nothing worse than jumping into an Excel document, pressing one button and losing vital project information. With Leica iCON, the Fabcon team can get on with delivering high quality projects with the certainty that they’re getting it right the first time.
What’s more, both Christie and Lewis agree that the support they have received, and continue to receive, from CR Kennedy has been unfaultable. “The confidence we gained from meeting the CR Kennedy team at Sydney Build 2022, followed by meeting the company’s national manager of building construction Bernie Edmonds, was phenomenal,” says Christie. “What also can’t be understated is the support we’ve received from CR Kennedy’s building construction technical consultant Alex Richardson who has been unbelievable in supporting us, especially Lewis, in the adoption of Leica iCON.”
“I absolutely cannot fault in any way, shape or form, Alex’s passion for the industry and passion for the product – we’ve never found him falling short of anything in the sense of answering our questions.
“If he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll find it and bring it back to us.”
For Lewis, who came into the role at Fabcon with no technical support inhouse, CR Kennedy’s support has been exceptionally valuable. “I’ve sometimes called Alex at seven in the morning with a complex question and he’s straight on the ball,” explains Lewis. “If he can’t figure it out then and there, he’ll pull up his own simulation of the Leica iCON model and figure it out within minutes.”
With a multitude of new technologies hitting the Australian construction market daily, the quality of support that comes with a new software or system can be what sets it ahead of the field. As Christie puts it, at the end of the day a new technology is going to be nothing more than an extra weight in the tool bag if there’s no support to ensure the user understands it and can use its full capabilities. CR Kennedy understands the importance of supporting its surveying equipment and solutions and Fabcon is reaping the benefits.
CR Kennedy segment manager – building construction Bernie Edmonds says it’s companies like Fabcon – which are thinking ahead, adapting and adopting digital technologies such as the Leica iCON – that will continue to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of construction.
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