Utilizing openBIM is easier than you think — implement information models with small steps

Cloud connectivity, detailed 3D-models and high-level automation are real possibilities with today’s infrastructure information models. If you are new to the subject, utilizing open building infrastructure modeling (openBIM) may seem like a daunting task, but you might be surprised at how easy it is to implement it with the existing knowledge you have — and a little expert support.

Even the most massive infrastructure projects begin with small steps. Start by answering fundamental questions like: Why is this project done and how will it be executed? Planning is where the path to utilizing openBIM begins, says Novatron BIM Specialist Teppo Viinikka.

—There needs to be a strong push from the people ordering the project towards using information models. It’s also important to define the degree to which information models are used. The most advanced possibility is to produce plans as information models and have the deliverables in digital format as well, says Viinikka, who has been working with infrastructure in various roles his whole career. In this article, Viinikka shares his extensive expertise on the steps to utilizing openBIM.

Making an information model is basically the same thing as making volume calculations and quantity surveys. You just make the plans a bit smarter by digitizing them and combining information in the model.

To implement information models, turn paper plans into digital ones

Once you decide to implement information models, it’s time to distribute roles and responsibilities: Who will take ownership of the information model? The answer can be the site manager, but the surveyor is often the most natural choice.

Surveying professionals are already responsible for handling all information at the worksite, digital and analog. They are familiar with digital assets and material which are a part of their everyday work. It all starts with simple models, such as excavation, embankment, and fill models — all based on work familiar to someone working as a surveyor.

—Making an information model is basically the same thing as making volume calculations and quantity surveys. You just make the plans a bit smarter by digitizing them and combining information in the model. When I tell this to surveyors who’ve never used information models, most are surprised at how easy it is, says Viinikka with a smile.

The person responsible for the information model should also be responsible for performing quality checks for errors at the site as well as in the information model itself. The machine operator should also ensure that each machine uses an up-to-date model and the machines at the worksite are working properly.

For best results, bring machine control into the mix early on

To experience the full benefit of infrastructure information models it’s essential to incorporate machine control early on. However, it’s not necessary to equip your full fleet with it right away – small changes are enough.

—You can fit two excavators with machine control and create information models for them, and then compare their performance to traditionally operated excavators based on measuring gauges, for example, suggests Viinikka.

Most newcomers to information models start implementing them with smaller pilot projects. Viinikka’s advice here is to make sure the pilot is at least six months in duration.

—Otherwise you will not be able to see the best benefits of information models and machine control, he says. This way you will learn from the pilot, and can build up the use of BIM in future projects by taking small steps while learning and understanding the effects.

Expert support and training make openBIM easily approachable

While incorporating information models into infrastructure projects is possible without outside help, having expert support certainly makes things go smoother.

—Novatron offers training and support for customers locally as well as globally. We also work together with schools and students in the field, which I think is extremely important for the future development of the industry, says Viinikka.

Model formats, coordinates, best practices, code lists, and modelling storm drains and sewers are among the most asked questions to the Novatron support team. Most of them can be resolved over a few phone calls or e-mails, especially if the person asking is a surveying professional. Easy to use software helps too.

—Simply put, Xsite® Machine Control system is the easiest way to start using information models. You won’t need extensive training and won’t have to convert your material into other formats. It is as easy as pressing a button! Actually, I think there are at least two buttons to push, Viinikka quips.

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