The new era in structural engineering
In the fast-paced construction industry, time is money. Project coordination is critical because any delay can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in loses a day for an owner. Successful builds require all parties—from architects to subcontractors and everyone in between—to be on the same page.
More and more, that page is a computer screen. A new generation of engineering firms are emerging who understand fast-track and integrated design project management is the key to saving money, even amongst thin margins. Construction project management is no longer the domain of blueprints and pencils—or of just the owner. Software is now the key to optimise the structural elements and to coordinate in a real-time update of the projects, and the engineering firms who understand this, take the lead in the industry.
L2C Experts are a Montreal-based structural engineering firm who have catapulted to success in a few short years thanks to a prescient view of the new construction model. Established in September, 2015, L2C founders Jean-René Larose, Martin Lavictoire, Pascal Cyr and Jean-Philippe Carrier, recognized a hole in the market between quick builds and low cost. They identified the immediate savings contractors could gain with an engineering firm who didn’t operate in a bubble. Now, with two offices (a second in Quebec City) and 25 employees, Larose credits “optimization, on every aspect, one by one,” for the team’s success. “The way we work in close co-operation with other professionals and our clients is what differentiates us from the competition.”
L2C is a young company, not only in operational years, but with most team members in their late 20s or early 30s. There is a collective mindset that is focused on finding better ways to do things, and where collaboration is prioritized. L2C offers in-house technical training to all colleagues that brings the team to the same level. Even the office is open-concept, with cameras set up for regular video conferencing with team members on the field and with the other office. This system will be used even more soon, as Larose has plans to open up a Toronto office in the near future.
At the heart of the L2C operation is harnessing the power of technology. L2C uses Revit software to design and coordinate in a 3D model all the aspects of project. The model-based process helps to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure for collaborative design.
“In our time, Contractors wants to build right away,’’ says Larose. “We have no choice but to act as leaders. Just like an engine pulling the train, the architects essentially carry on the team, then fast track the design and the building process. Nowadays, people are designing as they go, and foundation set before the other systems are properly planning, and that can cause a lot of mix ups and time delays. We have a proven track record of avoiding those types of mistakes—we are leaders in bringing projects to site as fast as possible.”
It is important to retain bright, efficient, and tech-savvy talent in order to continue on this upward projection. “To always be on the precipice of the latest skills and tools, we also have close mentors outside the company who regularly come by and challenge our thinking and give us the benefit of their experience,” says Larose, adding the mentor program has been priceless. The team hires and develops in-house experts in all kinds of materials including wood, concrete, steel, light steel, masonry, and many others.
Some of L2C’s largest clients in Quebec are expanding to Ontario in the new year, so the company is steering its course west. “We would love to apply our expertise and thinking to projects like 80-storey high skyscrapers, says Larose. Our specific branding—being known to deliver efficient drawings at good cost—is a good fit in Toronto. Especially because the entire L2C team is easily reachable on their cellphone, which makes for convenient communication. Those two skills adding up give us a competitive advantage.” Larose smiles.
Successful builds require successful teams with the right tools. Software—and talented bright people who can use it to the highest potential—can analyze system and material at maximum potential. With companies like L2C Leading the way, “design and construction phase are now blended together.”