BIM success is all about a holistic approach
“Whether you are a project owner, designer, contractor or even tools supplier; leveraging the whole project lifecycle is the number one success criteria for infrastructure projects”, says Ryan Kunisch, Trimble´s general manager of engineering and construction software.
“Understanding the whole process and streamlining the data- and workflow through the entire project lifespan is key to achieve efficient and quality projects,” he explains further.
Kunisch had a lot on his mind when he presented and met with major Nordic customers at the 29th Novapoint User Conference this summer:
The Nordics ahead
“The Nordic region is in the forefront of civil engineering and especially BIM for infrastructure,” Kunisch says. “Before we decided to acquire Vianova Systems in 2015 we looked at a number of comparable players worldwide. Vianova Systems turned out the best match for us.”
“Our assessment of the Nordic market is that it has advanced beyond the other developing markets – much thanks to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and Vianova Systems who have been visionaries in this field for nearly 30 years. The time and investment they have put in has been very valuable.”
"Now that Vianova Systems has become part of Trimble the Nordic office has gained an international leadership role in Trimble with respect to BIM tools. The Nordic region is a pioneer in terms of BIM maturity and the use of BIM for infrastructure. BIM Level 3 is now highly relevant in new projects.”
“Trimble´s traditional strength is in surveying and construction. With true BIM Level 3 made possible with Novapoint and Quadri we have a unique opportunity to make the collaborative model design available into construction and beyond.”
Need to change
“This year´s Novapoint User Conference paid special attention to what is needed to get there. Share with confidence was the mantra. Not just with BIM, but also the processes and digitizing needed around contracting, funding, tendering, payment, change orders and other contractual relationships. They are all necessary requirements to achieve full adoption of BIM,” Kunisch claims.
Statsbygg, the governmental agency responsible for all Norwegian state buildings, rightly exposed the key obstacles for the industry:
“In spite of the investment in BIM we have not managed to obtain substantial efficiency gains yet,” said Jan Myhre, director of Digibygg, Statsbygg´s digitizing initiative. “And this is not because of technology, but more so because we still use traditional implementation models not being aligned with the digitizing. We have to rethink processes and contract types completely. Everything needs to be streamlined within a new contract model.”
Contract always wins
“Changing and aligning the contracting process is fundamental to success,” claims Kunisch. “BIM is definitely great, but only until it disagrees with the contract. The contract always wins if there is an issue or dispute.”
“When the margins are getting slimmer and the risks higher, a dispute gives the players the excuse not to adopt new file-less or paperless processes. They can rely on the old contracting and funding mechanisms to be safe. We see that everywhere. It is a global issue and a real challenge for the industry.”
Realize entire process
In spite of sophisticated technology and new advancements in all project phases, there is unfortunately still a gap between engineering and construction solutions. The industry has tried to close this gap with suppliers dealing with parts of the process, but this has just solved parts of the problem.
“Trimble´s uniqueness is that we have a holistic vision for our industry offerings. We work with all stakeholders in the industry to understand their needs and then try to provide solutions meeting those – hardware as well as software-wise. We all have a desire to integrate and optimize data- and workflows from the beginning to end,” says Kunisch.
Unmatched product portfolio
Unlike other technology providers though, Trimble has solutions from A to Z in this context. Because they own these assets, and their customers rely on them, Trimble has a strong incentive and commitment to integrate the solutions across the complete lifecycle.
“Our vision for the Trimble ecosystem is that we will always be an active driver for industry standards and adopt them as they come,” Ryan Kunisch explains. “But standards tend to have less fidelity than native formats. As with other technology leaders, also native Trimble-to-Trimble solutions have a higher level of information fidelity, because we can control the level of detail both in the authoring and reading of the data. On the other hand, we put a lot of effort into open standards, driven by buildingSMART International and the Open Geospatial Consortium. We see open standards for road and rail as even more important than for buildings since the end result is so important for society.”
“Since Trimble has acquired many of these technology assets, plus organically developed a number of other assets, our roadmap is to converge the technologies going forward. Our next product generations will be the first that will provide the full experience. The current generation will have close interoperability within common spheres – such as civil engineering, which will have collaboration around the Quadri model which supports both objects and processes. If you want to share information with mechanical, electro and plumbing disciplines for example, you will use Trimble Connect, which is a file-based system.”
Breadth the differentiator
“We are really working hard to leverage the technology available in order to advance interoperability. This is an evolutionary journey, both for Trimble and our customers.”
“The breadth of our product portfolio, combined with the “cross-pollination” of our expertise across that, is definitely our competitive differentiator. On a product-by-product basis we win some deals and we loose some, like others, but from a portfolio standpoint there are not any other companies that have the breadth we have.”
“Going forward we strongly believe that the individual products will start to differentiate as well, because they can draw from the knowledge of our product width. For example when we put volume calculations into Novapoint we have the engineering expertise that works on machine control, to understand how volumes are moved in the dirt. Or we can call on the expertise of land surveyors to find out how point clouds are generated and should be rendered or used. Within the family we have all the expertise we need, including building design and construction. In civil construction and building construction we have mirrored portfolios covering the whole lifecycle.”
“We truly believe we can design better because we know construction, and we can construct better because we know design and engineering.“
Data hub roadmap
“As Trimble is involved across the entire continuum covering both infrastructure and building we are in fact positioned to become the data hub – from the designing of model objects through construction content,” Ryan Kunisch explains.
“An example; Trimble´s SketchUp design tool has a 3D Warehouse for automated design. When you are modelling something you design with real world, ready-made objects available in the 3D Warehouse, a much more efficient way to provide results.”
“The vision is to create a construction data hub ERP system that ties together all the stakeholders in the value chain to get just-in-time production on a massive scale,” Kunisch concludes.