Construction gets digitised - Building information modelling is the future

Digitalisation is also taking over the construction industry, one of the examples of which is that the building information modelling is becoming more common in major infrastructure projects.

Construction gets digitised - Building information modelling is the future
Construction gets digitised - Building information modelling is the future

YIT is the first in Finland to realise a building information modelled bridge.

Digitalisation is also taking over the construction industry, one of the examples of which is that the building information modelling is becoming more common in major infrastructure projects.

The construction industry in Finland has worked actively to develop the standards and practices of building information modelling. During the next few years, major infrastructure projects will shift to using building information model-based processes. This approach will be applied in large street and bridge projects as well as in smaller projects.

YIT is a pioneer when it comes to building information modelling of infrastructure construction and the company has been involved in several development projects of the industry. “The building information modelling technology and the way of thinking are still relatively new but they are brought into use at a good pace,” says Pekka Ruuti, Vice President of foundations and water construction at YIT.

In infrastructure construction, building information model refers to a three-dimensional model of a structure, which has full details of the building elements’ objects. In addition to three-dimensional geometry and structure data, the model also contains the material information.

One material, many models

Unlike the traditional phased project model, building information modelling covers the entire lifecycle of a construction project and all of its sub-areas. The handling of the material in digital form enables the utilisation of the same data in different ways as the project progresses. Information will also be complemented and updated during the lifecycle of the project.

At the beginning of a contract, an initial data model of the construction project will be created, which will then serve as a tool for the designer. It will be used as the basis for an as-planned model, with the help of which the contractor presents the work plan to the client. On the basis of the initial data model, the designer will also create a design model, on the basis of which the construction is built.

As a result of the construction, the client will receive an as-built model, which contains structures’ realisation data, installation times and circumstances, as well as the materials used. Among other things, the exact number of structure components and their data for maintenance planning and procurement needs, in turn, can be found in a maintenance model. A maintenance program will be attached to the objects of the maintenance model, which makes it easier to maintain the construction in the future.

Faster, more efficient, more exact

The building information modelling improves infrastructure construction in many ways starting from the very beginning of the project. For example, it considerably fastens familiarising with a quote’s computing materials. “It takes at least half a day from a professional estimator to explore a quote’s computing materials, say, for a new interchange when using traditional methods. When there is a visual 3D model available, an overall view of the project can be acquired already in half an hour,” says Pekka Ruuti.

The building information model also enables a direct utilisation of machine automation and, for example, a transfer of building information model data from structure layer surfaces directly to GPS-based machine control systems of excavators. A computer-based quantity take-off can be carried out even more automatically than before.

The building information modelling also shapes the job descriptions of infrastructure construction and requires a new kind of knowledge. “For example, the role of a director of measuring work changes quite a lot in a building information modelled project,” states Pekka Ruuti.

As a result of development projects, common building information model requirements, planning and modelling instructions, as well as data transfer formats have already been agreed on for the infrastructure construction. In the future, the challenges are related to, for example, the development of modelling practices so that the models support planning as efficiently as possible.

In principle, it is possible to prepare building information model-based construction drawings on the basis of a model even on the construction site, but it will be difficult in practice. “The work requires a high degree of precision, and it is impossible to focus on it on the construction site. Data communication connections can also pose challenges in field conditions due to large file sizes of the models,” says Ruuti.

Benefits of building information modelling in infrastructure construction

1.Quality. When designs can be viewed as visual models they will become better in quality. Errors caused by manual data transfer will significantly be reduced. Different possibilities and options will be easier to detect.

2.Accuracy. The cost management of planning will get easier and processes of quantity take-off will be improved. The calculation of materials and number of items needed will be more accurate when they will be calculated directly from the model and always in the same way.

3.Communication. A seamless data transfer and easily interpretable materials will promote communication between client, contractor, decision makers, investors, and other parties. Zoning processes will get easier.

4.Efficiency. The machine automation and control can be deployed more widely than before. Construction plans produced in accordance with the instructions can directly be utilised in machine automation. Reporting will be faster and easier. The location and work effort of machine resources can be monitored in real-time.

5.Speed. Better planning methods enable that the actual designing work can be started earlier. In a building information modelled project, the perception of the overall project will be significantly easier also for experienced professionals. The production of quality materials required in the project will be faster.

6.Productivity. Work efficiency on the construction site will be improved. The productivity of the entire construction industry will get better when the processes will be fully implemented.

7.Responsibility. Construction maintenance will become more efficient when the client gets the building information model along with the finished construction’s structure and material data as well as service manuals. A proper and timely maintenance will save resources, extend the lifecycle of the construction, and maintain safety.

For further information, please contact:

Pekka Ruuti, Director, Head of foundations and water construction at YIT Construction Ltd, +358 (0)50 581 0339