With a holistic approach and very clear requirements for interdisciplinary 3D design modeling and collaboration, the Norwegian road and rail authorities literally pave the way for IBIM, “Infrastructure Building Information Modeling” in their ongoing E6-Dovrebanen Joint Project.
The result– given by extensive use of a joint 3D collaboration model and tight cooperation between the engineering consulting players Cowi, Norconsult and Aas-Jacobsen/ ViaNova – is better collaboration, great savings and better quality.
Some 100 km north of Oslo, along a stretch at lake Mjøsa, Norway´s largest lake, the E6 motorway and the Dovrebanen railway lie very close to each other.
Hence the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) and the Norwegian National Rail Administration (NNRA) joined forces to plan and build the new E6 and Dovrebanen on this stretch holistically and concurrently.
Exemplary pioneering project
The engineering job is divided into three parcels, each contracted to COWI, Norconsult and Aas-Jacobsen/ Vianova respectively, with ViaNova Plan and Traffic as the contractual partner.
Based on the road authority NPRA´s new design guide, the so-called Handbook 138, the three consulting companies each individually design and model their infrastructure stretch multidisciplinary, and then coordinate their designs by means of a joint integrated collaboration model integrated into the design process – achieving common goals of collaboration, quality assurance and savings.
One project included in several
The Joint Project´s respective road and rail sections are both parts of larger projects in the region: The road stretch is part of the NPRA project E6 Gardermoen-Biri, while the rail stretch is a part of the project Dovrebanen, Eidsvoll-Hamar.
The actual construction of the project is also divided into three sections. Separate contractors are contracted for each section. Parcel 1 is assigned to Alpine Bau GmbH, Parcel 2 is assigned to Veidekke Hochtief and Parcel 3 is assigned to Hæhre Entreprenør.
The construction started in June 2012 – a total of approx. 22 km four-lane E6, 17 km double track railway, over 20 km local roads and 19 km bike and walking paths. The project also includes four-lane road tunnels totaling 3.6 km, railway tunnels totaling 4.6 km, two-level intersections with acceleration lanes, culverts and pedestrian bridges.
Savings and quality improvement
According to the builders, the way of organizing and carrying through the Joint Project will result in savings of several hundred million NOKs. One reason for this is shorter distances for moving soil and rock mass. Another reason is the way the design engineering is carried through and what this means in terms of efficiency and quality improvements.
Paves way for Infrastructure Building Information Modeling – IBIM
“This way of design engineering paves the way for BIM also in infrastructure projects”, says Ole Jacob Schia. He is responsible for 3D design and coordination at Norconsult and is one who knows the challenges of the project best.
“Based on the new Handbook 138 the project owners NPRA and NNRA set strict requirements for the use of 3D models”, tells Schia. “Both in terms of basic model data, files, discipline models, the coordination model, machine and survey data, update process in the construction phase, as well as “as-built” information”, he says.
Work methodology important
Since Handbook 138 was not 100 % finished at project start, it was however, while waiting for this, decided to agree upon common project documents to handle the structure, the process and the method of the 3D design modeling. The specifications were to help giving all three parcels the same structure of the discipline models, as well as the collaboration model.
Regarding the digital deliverables, there were no specific requirements for what software to use for the different 3D discipline models, just that the format of the deliverables should be DWG. As basis for the collaboration model was decided to use Novapoint Virtual Map, a common tool for design modeling and visualization. Novapoint Virtual Map converts multidisciplinary design data into a visually rich virtual reality model that everybody can understand and view interactively.
Virtual Map hence adds new dimensions into the design process.
Model-based design and engineering
With this as the basis, Cowi, Norconsult and Aas-Jacobsen/ViaNova each designed their respective 3D models for each discipline of the project – models that then all together form the whole project model and also provides the data necessary for the contractors to build the project.
The assembly means a dynamically updated virtual collaboration model of all design data from all disciplines. During the whole design process the model is updated constantly to reflect the current design status.
The NPRA and NNRA also had strict requirements for the 3D discipline models in terms of also being the basis for construction machine data and survey data for the contractors. 2D drawings will apply as supplementary information.
“This is a significant step towards full model-based engineering in which 3D design modeling is becoming increasingly important”, points out Norconsult´s Ole Jacob Schia.
By assembling all the discipline models into a full project model based on the Novapoint Virtual Map visualization system, holistic 3D interdisciplinary coordination and control could be created.
Interdisciplinary coordination and quality assurance
With a free viewer tool in Novapoint Virtual Map one can evaluate and control the whole 3D model of the project, and move freely around in the model, both above and below ground.
Viewing the design as a 3D virtual model gives the design process a whole new perspective.
“This way it is easy to view the total solution and do interdisciplinary coordination and assessment”, continues Schia. “Including automatic design collision control. It is much faster to detect design errors and eliminate them this way, than in the 2D world. The number of conflicts for construction is drastically reduced, whilst at the same time good aesthetic solutions is taken care of”.
Major benefits for the contractors
The collaboration model also provides a far better basis for the contractors, is the Joint Project´s experience. Planning and scheduling the work process can be done in a much better way, than just using 2D drawing-based documents.
The collaboration model contributes to improved quality assurance and cost control, and is additionally an excellent medium for the contractors, it is claimed.
“The contractors may use the collaboration model to understand and familiarize themselves with the project. This is obviously done much faster viewing the model, than using the approximately 700 drawings, which are also part of the construction basis for Parcel 2”, says Ole Jacob Schia.
Stein Slaatsveen, Project Manager at ViaNova Plan and Traffic, also highlights advantages for contractors using the 3D model:
“The collaboration model provides a much better understanding of the work to be done. For example their prizing calculations can be made more precise. In addition the contractors may retrieve the setting out data directly from the discipline models, providing flexibility in retrieving the data they really need”, he says.
Good organizing important
Slaatsveen believes also that the way of organizing the work is critical: “It is important to assign a head project coordinator who is responsible for driving the whole process and also assign one responsible for each discipline model”.
“All disciplines should be included early in the process”, he adds, and points out that the quality assurance of the solutions “the interdisciplinary coordination achieved through the collaboration model – significantly reduces the risk of errors. Structural design collision and conflict control becomes much easier and precise”.
Lifecycle model for the builders
Also for the public builders NPRA and NNRA, the collaboration model provides new opportunities – in the design engineering phase, follow-up during construction, as well as in the operational phase:
“We are very much in favor of this new way of working”, says engineering manager Henning Johnsen at the railway authorities NNRA. “The collaboration model makes it possible to detect and fix things much faster and earlier in the design process. Mistakes and interdisciplinary conflicts may as a result be very costly if they are first discovered at the construction site”.
“The joint 3D model is both an excellent communication tool and a conflict resolution tool”, emphasizes Johnsen. “Within the project as well as in relations with the public”.
As a communication medium the collaboration model is used actively internally in the project for inter-communication and planning activities, as well as externally with the builders, other stakeholders and the media.
“The visualization is equally suited to present the various model stages for landowners, politicians and authorities, as well as to discuss project details with discipline colleges”, he says.
“It will be really interesting to see what the future brings in terms of actual savings in the construction phase”, continues Henning Johnsen. “Especially in relations to how the construction managers will encounter change orders as a result of design conflicts between disciplines. It will be exciting to see what effects this will have”.
“Model-based engineering allows also for other disciplines to enter the process earlier”, he adds. “Decisive input may pop up earlier and lead to even better planning”.
“What´s more; model-based “as-built” information will also be very beneficial for auditing and maintenance purposes later in the infrastructure life cycle”, points out Henning Johnsen at NNRA.
Educational and useful
“The process of using the collaboration model has been educational as well as advantageous in the engineering design process”, states Gjermund Dahl, COWI´s 3D-responsible engineer in the Joint Project, and adds another benefit:
“It´s a challenging fact that it is the young engineers who are the most knowledgeable about 3D design and modeling in 3D, while it is the older ones who have the most experience, and to a higher extent, are capable of “seeing” interdisciplinary. The collaboration model also proves to be a good setting for coordination and sharing of knowledge between engineering designers”, he says.
Gjermund Dahl however calls for some more dynamics in the actual 3D model used:
“To create a good collaboration model is demanding and requires good, strict routines for the various disciplines to prepare and publish their model files. A more dynamic collaboration model would be helpful to provide even faster and more efficient design engineering”.
Having said that, this is something that is being worked very hard and persistently on by design tool developers. For example Vianova Systems. Vianova´s new generation IBIM technology, which is due for release later this fall, will provide new state-of-the-art, model- and process-based technology, allowing for full dynamics in the IBIM processes.
The BIM concept is finally becoming a proven practice also in the infrastructure segment, believes therefore the Norwegian road and rail authorities and the consultants Cowi, Norconsult and Aas-Jacobsen/ViaNova.
Their very positive experience in the E6-Dovrebanen Joint Project definitively shows that this is the way to go.