As one of the world's leading firms regarding technical and environmental consultancy, WSP always strives to make their work processes even more effective and accurate. By nature the business is software driven and the process of digital transformation is essential for the success of the company. Trimble Quadri is one of the main pillars in the digitization and success of WSP’s projects.
WSP has for a long time been one of Trimbles largest customers in Sweden, and we wanted to know how Quadri has transformed their way of working recently. We sat down to talk to three of the main drivers of digital transformation, information management and model based design at WSP. Anders Lisspers, responsible for delivery tools, Jonas Brodd, department manager Digital & Information Management and Erik Holmqvist, BIM Manager, and also responsible for Quadri at WSP.
At WSP, in Sweden, we use around 200 different engineering software applications and spend around 8 M€ a year for licenses, support and training. My work is to get the most out of that, says Anders Lisspers. To help me on this mission I have around 30 persons responsible for one or several softwares - and Erik is the one responsible for Quadri, Anders continues.
At WSP our strategy is not to be locked in to specific software systems. We are completely aware that it is the project's needs that will determine what software we use. Trimble is one of our top three software providers. For example we are big users of Tekla and have a long history of using Novapoint for road design.
The first thing we discussed during our conversation was WSP's view on how to meet the demands from their customers. Is it about being ahead and at the forefront or is it only about fulfilling the current rules and regulations?
The project is the center of gravity
Lisspers explains there has been a huge development in the last five years. He remembers five years ago a data manager sent to a project's startup meeting returned telling him; “No one cared about me at all at the meeting”. Today there is no discussion about the importance of data and information management. These issues are something that everyone needs to understand and work with in a modern project. It is always a balancing act between implementing new technologies, work processes and costs linked to the customers intentions and demands, says Jonas Brodd before he continues.
In some projects there might be a really tight deadline which increases the need of using tools that lets us work more integrated and cooperative. So it is really up to the conditions of the actual project to work “ahead” or just to stick exactly to the current demands, Jonas clarifies before he continues; Today we are in a situation where all the major system vendors are changing their solutions so we must transform to a model based workflow. So to summarize the question of being ahead or in line with the demands, Jonas Brodd ends, is that it depends on the project and the customer.
In some projects where the time schedule is very tight, we might need to question old truths the most? Is it possible for us to use better tools and change our “traditional” work processes? In these cases it is very important that we meet up and facilitate the change by training and supporting the employees without affecting the project budget. When doing this we as a company can be ahead of the customers demands, create value that exceeds the customers intentions and by that also develop our business as a whole. We also get the opportunity to do this together which is a big advantage. Jonas goes on; - Today, many of our big system providers are changing their tools in a way that we also need to change our processes regarding model based delivery, and also how we communicate in our projects. New functionality gives new challenges and possibilities in how we, as individuals, are processing information. In our large ongoing tunnel project, we are working hard on all these matters, Jonas ends.
WSP is using Trimble Quadri as Common Data Environment platform in several ongoing large products. They made the decision to go for Quadri in 2019 and since then the work has proceeded. In some projects they have also stretched the use of Quadri a little by for example implementing the usage of Quadri connectors.
Erik Holmqvist, BIM and information manager, is the owner who sets up the conditions and framework for data deliveries in most projects, and is responsible for fulfilling these demands. There are around 100 people working with Quadri at WSP. Most of them are designers contributing data to the model, and others are reviewing or consuming the information in other ways using Quadri for Browser, Erik explains.
From file management to information management
How is WSP succeeding in this? Which are the key factors when implementing a new work process, and which are the main challenges?
Jonas Brodd starts; One of the main challenges we always had is to coordinate the different formats produced by different design and modeling tools. Each department is an expert in their own field, and extremely competent in producing their own data and their own models. But when converting between different formats there is always a risk of losing information. These risks are quite much eliminated by using Quadri.
Erik Holmqvist continues; Traditionally my work has been much focused on collecting these technical models and putting them together in a collaboration model, so my work has been hands-on in file conversion, changing and updating. Now when we use Quadri my work has changed in a fundamental way. I am more of an information manager, focusing on structuring information than a model builder, Erik tells us.
Connecting information and software in one common data environment
The reason for this change in Eriks work is the Quadri integration with other systems by using connectors. The connectors make it possible for users of different design softwares to work directly in the shared Quadri model without the traditional export and import of files. Instead of each department working with their own model, delivering files at certain times, they are all connected to the shared common model all the time. The common model becomes the one source of truth for the data in the project, also called a CDE, common data environment.
The key to success when implementing a new work process, like with Quadri, is the company decides on a higher level in the organization and supports the implementation of the new system. Then we know that we have the mandates required to get everyone in the boat, Jonas points out. It is also essential that the project management in the actual project is involved and interested in also the data and information management issues to be dealt with.
Working in a multidisciplinary and multi software project
Normally, in a project a lot of different software tools are used including Tekla Structures, Civil 3D, Grasshopper, MagiCAD and Novapoint Geosuite. Everyone is using connectors, data integration, except the department using MagicCAD where they still use file import, Erik says. But it is the designers who perform the import to Quadri, not the model manager, Eriks emphasizes. We also use JIRA for issue management and there is a connector also for that, enabling us to merge model comments and other issues in our projects. This works very well and is also a key factor to success, Erik Holmqvist points out.
Connection between Quadri desktop application, JIRA and Quadri webapplication, Quadri for Browser (Photo: WSP)
Another thing that is key to success is the support we get from Trimble. Fast response and local support is worth a lot at the implementation stage, Erik tells us. Right now we have a steep learning curve regarding Quadri, but it will flatten out soon and then Trimble will get even harder questions from us, Jonas Brodd adds with a smile.
Of course there are also challenges working in a shared model. When you open up the model data like you do in Quadri, you also need to set up a system for who has access to what and when, Erik continues. Everyone must change their work process more or less, and that is sometimes a challenge. So we are glad that we have a “training account” for some in-process-learning, says Jonas.
They also want to ask Trimble to implement clash control inside Quadri and improve the use of conversion- and drawing rules. These are the functionality producing the most headache for the users, but the learning curve is steep and we constantly develop our knowledge, says Erik. But it is clear that Trimble listens to what we say, for example there is some new functionality in the new version that we asked for.
Erik and Jonas concludes the main takeaways from using Quadri so far:
- Every designer and engineer involved are working in the model in a totally different way than in previous projects
- The project management has much better control of the progress
- The borders between different departments are gone because everyone works in one shared model
- Better understanding between different fields
- There is big value in always having access to a model of real data. The Quadri model is not a showcase, visualization model. What you see is what you get, to put it simple.
Learn more about Quadri
As one of the world’s leading professional services firms, WSP provides engineering and design services to clients in the Transportation & Infrastructure, Property & Buildings, Earth & Environment, Power & Energy, Resources and Industry sectors, as well as offering strategic advisory services. WSP's global experts include engineers, advisors, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, environmental specialists and surveyors, in addition to other design, program and construction management professionals. WSP has 55 000 employees globally of which around 15 000 are based in Europe. The Swedish branch of WSP has 30 offices spread all over the country.