The BIM tools contribute to a significant reduction in both engineering time and production costs, whilst increasing the quality, believes engineers Martin Karlsson and Alexander Svensson who both work with road construction design at Norconsult Sweden.
Big Nordic player
Norconsult has become one of the largest Nordic consultancy companies within community planning and engineering. The business counts over 90 offices with approx. 3500 employees – most of them in the Nordic countries, but also a considerable number worldwide. Every year more than 10 000 large and small projects are active.
Two of Norconsult's regional offices are located in Malmö and Varberg, in southern Sweden. Here they have taken a practical grip of the company's stated strategy of thinking holistic and working with a clear environmental profile. All employees are well skilled in this form of work.
“We currently have 32 employees in Malmö and three in Varberg,” explains Martin Karlsson, road engineer in Malmö. “Here we have a multidisciplinary professional environment, with experts in road, water and sewer, traffic, landscape, environmental and railway engineering. As the Varberg office is relatively new and small so far, it is mostly road design we do there.”
The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and regional municipalities are the largest clients for both offices. Their main focus is municipal street projects and road plans. One of the ongoing projects is E65 Dragongatan in Ystad, where the Swedish Transport Administration is the developer.
“After upgrading to Novapoint 19 last year, and later to version 20 this year, we now run most of our newer road projects with 'new' Novapoint,” says Alexander Svensson, road engineer at the Varberg office. Both he and Karlsson have 6-7 years of experience with Novapoint.
“We adapt the level of detail to the client's requirements, and in those projects where there are several disciplines involved, we now use Quadri as a model server and collaboration platform. In fact, we now use Quadri in almost all new projects.”
“We even do this in ongoing projects that use Civil 3D,” adds Martin Karlsson. “We then simply ´lift´ the model into Quadri using the Civil 3D Connector import tool.”
Get a lot for free
“There are great benefits to getting everything into Quadri,” he continues. “We now see exactly what we are doing and get a far better possibility to design what we are aiming for. We get a continuous quality control of the design. We see immediately if our design collides with something else, if a manhole is placed wrong, or if a lighting post is strangely positioned. In addition, you can retrieve all possible data from the model, completely free.”
“At the same time, you are always confident that you are working with up-to-date data,” says Alexander Svensson. “This minimizes the risk of using incorrect data and ensures that everything becomes as accurate as possible – providing a very good personal feeling. The fact that you first create the model and then can retrieve building data directly from the model, feels like a much more correct process.”
“All of this means clear advantages compared to earlier versions and other tools,” says Martin Karlsson. “In a way, you are working somewhat blindly in the traditional way. Here you can see everything visibly and clearly. We are very pleased!”
“Another great advantage with Quadri is that you can bring the model with you in meetings and discuss it with the client and other stakeholders. This makes it much easier to coordinate all things,” Svensson adds. “You minimize mistakes and design conflicts and reduce construction costs, while increasing quality. In addition, the contractor can retrieve construction and stakeout data directly from the model.”
Ultimately, when all stakeholders will be ready to work model-based, and the model requirements will be adapted to each project, this way of working will be very good, both engineers believe. All projects are unique. As it seems so far, they experience that uneven levels of interest and quality, even including lack of competence sometimes, governs the requirements. When all players are ready and agree, all project participants will be able to utilize the model data optimally, thereby reducing production costs even further.
“Many developer clients place too much focus on the appearance of the model,” points out Svensson. “The clients must first and foremost decide what they need the model for. It is so much more than just a presentation model. I like to say that the model is more about building data than about presentation. The model is built and designed to minimize errors and reduce production costs.”
“In projects involving several disciplines, you definitely reduce errors and mistakes by working model-based,” emphasizes Martin Karlsson. “Unfortunately, we do not have numbers to show, but we are convinced that we reduce production costs. And we will reduce them even more when the contractor will utilize the model data directly for machine control and more. Additionally, the model also increases the contractor's project understanding when he easily can see what we have done and how we have been thinking, without having to look at analogue drawings.”
“The same goes for the developer,” concludes Alexander Svensson. “By using the Quadri Easy Access online tool, they can review and comment directly on the model. We have not used this cloud-based tool on a large scale yet, but this is definitely something that can further improve the understanding, communication and collaboration between all the players in the project.”