Simple and easy-to-grasp information benefits both experienced infrastructure construction professionals as well as regular Joes. Besides, achieving a better understanding with information models helps save money in the long run. For professionals, it enables faster decision making and helps predict and preventissues during construction. Non-professionals, in turn, get to see how their everyday work commutes will look after the project is finished.
Information models offer solutions to ensure an efficient dataflow from initial data to planning and construction, and back to maintenance.
“Even seasoned project directors have said that with an information model it’s much easier to see what kinds of issues there might be down the road in an infra construction project compared to the old way of laying out several paper plans,” says Petteri Palviainen, BIM Development Manager at Novatron.
Make decisions and change plans faster
Typical issues in infrastructure construction projects arise from initial data – in other words, the ground and soil. Soil survey samples are typically taken some 20-50 meters apart, leaving room for surprises. For example, undiscovered variations in soil type can require either soil reinforcement, soil replacement or rock cutting, which can drive project costs up.
For example, old concrete structures or underground pipelines previously undetected could surface during construction. With information models, sudden changes in plans can be tackled in just hours. Data can travel effortlessly from the site to planning, project management and to the client. The massive amount of work hours to update, finish, deliver and approve paper plans is no longer necessary.
“When using paper plans, it’s difficult to spot possible conflicts between different design disciplines. If these conflicts are then suddenly realized during construction, fixing the results can take several weeks. Information models lets you build the site virtually, thus revealing possible conflicts in plans much easier and faster than it would be possible with paper plans,” Palviainen says.
With information models, it’s easy to visualize existing data, and update new data when available. The cycle from detecting an issue to changing plans and proceeding with new ones becomes faster.
“An information model can be used in an instant. Say there’s an unforeseen object in the ground. If a 3D Machine Control System is in use, the excavator operator can measure it with the bucket, take a picture of the object and send it to the cloud. As information moves wirelessly in real time, the project management can inform the client faster and the designer can also get to work straight away,” summarizes Palviainen.
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OpenBIM makes collaboration and project management smoother
Closed BIM (Building Information Modelling) uses proprietary file formats. They are created by software manufacturers and can only be used in their software – or a specific third-party software they have given permissions to. Using these types of file formats means you are tied to a certain software, which can cause issues with data transfer and collaboration in a project.
A typical problem closed BIM users have to contend with is file conversion and the resulting data loss. In a project with several design disciplines such as electricity, energy and water supply, and their different types of data, the number of file formats to be converted can add up to 20 different types — all of which need to be accessed and read by the project management team. This is mission impossible for most software.
On the other hand, if the project is based on openBIM and open file formats, sharing information is much easier, and data loss can be avoided. You can also use any software you please, since openBIM is not tied to any particular software. Also, creating a combination model becomes simpler with open file formats as data can be published on the platform easily. As a result, it’s easy to view different plans, such as water supply and electricity, in the same model and spot any possible issues early on.
Information models make projects easier to grasp for non-professionals too
Naturally, public infrastructure is built for people to use. Information models not only help finish roads and routes on time but also help with presenting upcoming projects to people who live in the area, for example.
“Finland is a global forerunner when it comes to openBIM, both in the public and private sector. Cleaned up virtual models have been used for a long time to present projects to citizens in several cities all around Finland. With the roads, trees and houses in place in the virtual models, the end result is much more understandable for residents of the area,” says Palviainen.
Curious about harnessing openBIM for your projects? It might be easier than you think! Read more in our article [Utilizing openBIM is easier than you think — implement information models with small steps]