The construction industry is booming. In the years to come, a lot of building and preservation work will have to be done. With the low margins in construction and a severe personnel shortage in the sector, this is a considerable challenge. But there's something else standing in the way of an effective return: insufficient adoption of processes and technology. Reason enough for Trimble Construction Benelux to conduct a market survey among Belgian and Dutch construction professionals in the field of BIM design and technology. Trimble raffled off a Samsung Galaxy Tablet S7 FE among the participants. The lucky winner was Tim Witvrouwen, BIM manager at Equans.
Digitisation of the construction column
Trimble feels responsible for the adoption of technology and focuses even more on digitising the construction column. Trimble is investigating its experiences with BIM in practice and the results are used to improve and adapt Trimble's services and products. That way, the technology can be used even more effectively by construction and installation companies.
HoloLens and BIM
Tim has been working for more than 15 years at Equans, the new name for Engie Solutions since July 2021. As a BIM manager and draftsman, he works on projects for HVAC installations. Ralph Vroegop, Regional Sales Manager for the Buildings Construction Field Systems at Trimble, visited him at the Equans office in Aartselaar, Belgium. As an added surprise, Tim got a demo of the use of the HoloLens and Trimble Connect in combination with a Samsung Tablet. This way, people on the construction site can test models with real-world experience, in MR (with the HoloLens) or AR (with a mobile or a tablet).
Tim uses the BIM modelling software Revit in combination with Trimble Connect, which facilitates sharing and communicating about the construction work. Tim: "The intention is also that we will regularly visit the work floor. To see what is being done and whether what we have modelled is actually working." He considers the introduction of laptops a few years agoin combination with working in the cloud to be a huge step forward. This requires a lot of hard disk space. "That meant a hefty investment in hardware and processors for good performance," he says.
Working digitally saves a lot of paper and makes processes faster and more efficient. Interim coordination and decisions on content with the client and mechanics are much easier, according to Tim. That also saves time and money and promotes sustainable working. Tim: "For example, I had a meeting where the problem was that a technical room had been planned far too small, they were hopelessly short of space. But then I could show them that I had worked this out and that still had to be added."
Support makes processes run more effectively
You can set up the process as well as you like, but ultimately the people's side is at least as important for the processes to run effectively. Tim also notices this. "A Revit model such as the one we issue to our clients is actually not suitable for subsequent maintenance techniques. If we want to use that model for maintenance, a lot of other information and data must be added." That means that several people in those links need to be informed. But then you have to get them on board first.
Another barrier to getting BIM on the construction site is that not everyone works in the same model. As a result, everyone has their own library with different functionalities. "We get a whole 3D model from an engineering firm, but in reality we redraw it completely with our own library." In addition to being cumbersome, that's also risky, because it inadvertently increases the chance of errors. Tim: "We'd much rather be involved from the beginning," he says.
Many companies benefit from early adopters, people within a company who are open to trying things out and to change. In the case of construction companies, for example, this can be done by setting up a construction team at the very beginning, which gives you more control over the whole thing from the start. By keeping it small and always taking a step forward, these initiatives become successful.
This small scale is not an issue for a company like Equans that has multi-million euro projects. Tim: "The first real BIM project was a large hospital, which yielded 30 million euros in techniques alone. Then you're not thrown into the deep end of the pool, but into the middle of the ocean. And then say: swim! Depending on what the vision is then, it goes well. There we were lucky to have a client who had a clear vision of where he wanted to go, but if you have a client who doesn't know, then you run into very ugly things!
Trimble Connect Platform
Trimble Connect is the cloud platform for collaboration and information sharing in BIM projects. The platform connects various disciplines and streamlines communication: all parties involved have access to relevant information from any location and at any time. In combination with the Trimble Connect MR with the XR10 HoloLens and Trimble Connect AR, you bring 3D BIM models to the construction site. In this 3D environment, project teams can easily view the various models remotely and resolve any construction errors early on.
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