Full digitizing essential for success

Data sharing and close collaboration combined with new types of contracts are critical in order for the public road and rail authorities and the civil construction industry to achieve their goals.

This message clearly came across during Trimble´s annual Novapoint user conference at Sundvolden Hotel outside Oslo 9-11 May. Over 320 professionals from all infrastructure disciplines participated at the conference – which this year had the overall theme "Share with confidence".

The theme was clearly appealing for the speakers as well as participants: Both project owners, contractors as well as engineering consultants expressed the high importance of digital teamwork, sharing data and collaborating as closely as possible to succeed.


Openness important

"Trusty sharing of engineering data at all stages and phases is crucial to reaching the project owners´ goals," said Trimble Nordics´ managing director Idar Kirkhorn in his opening speech to the assembly. "The industry is in immense change whilst at the same time operating at high pace. This requires all players to work smarter, together. It´s not just about individual efficiency; it's about taking a holistic approach and sharing data and knowledge across disciplines and players.”

"Building confidence in this way is fundamental. Without confidence we as humans will usually not share with others. Everyone must be willing to change and to take active choices”, pointed out Kirkhorn, who got full support from project director Øyvind Moshagen at the new state-owned road agency Nye Veier.


BIM Level 3

Nye Veier has set itself a goal of being fully digitized by 2020, which will have far-reaching consequences for the construction industry. The new road agency pushes digital BIM requirements further than the Norwegian road authorities´ V770 Design Manual. We are now talking BIM Level 3 for real.

"We have a very clear mission and that is to provide more roads for the money," said Moshagen. "This demands us to think new about everything we do. For this reason we have had to look at all aspects of a project. BIM is and will be the key element of the digitizing. Not only in the design and construction phase, but also in form of as-built models and digital management models in the operation and maintenance phase.”

"We therefore want to involve the suppliers a lot earlier in the process; a significant change to the old implementation model. Being the project owner we more or less will be just a purchaser ourselves. We will be setting ambitious goals, but it is the suppliers who are the experts and who must deliver.”


New types of contracts

“We will also apply new contract types in the form of all-inclusive contracts that are adapted to the new business model; including operation and maintenance of the infrastructure for 20 years. The contracts will be signed with total suppliers who can provide all the expertise, including engineering consulting. We want to see all the players around “the same table" in order to work closely together all the way from the early planning stage to achieve better projects.”

In order to ensure the best possible end-result, Nye Veier even looks at new incentive programs – like attractive bonus payments if the suppliers also can deliver as-built models and digital management models of the built infrastructure.


Must think again

Jon Myhre, director for Statsbygg´s digitizing initiative Digibygg, fully supported Moshagen in his lecture. Statsbygg is the governmental agency responsible for state buildings.

"Despite the ever-improving technology, we have unfortunately not yet managed to harvest substantial efficiencies from our digitizing efforts. This is not the technology's fault, but rather our own traditional implementation models.”

"It's not enough to set digital goals and to apply new technology. We have to thoroughly renew our projects also implementation-wise. We cannot expect significant change by using contracts and collaboration methods that were developed before the Internet came along”, Myhre uttered.


New roles

He was strongly supported by Albert Kr. Hæhre, the entrepreneur and CEO of Hæhre Entreprenør, a large Norwegian contractor. He too emphasized the importance of renewing the contract regime, describing traditional contracts as too restrictive and often conflict creating. Hæhre hoped that future contracts would be implemented along the so-called Helgeland model, through which the owner, contractor and engineering consultants work together through a common model.

Furthermore the presentations also created an excellent kickoff for a panel discussion about sharing data between the different project players. As said, their roles are now changing. It is therefore vital that all engage and adapt. The panel debate revealed a lot of positive attitude though. Role restructuring and seamless sharing of data will be crucial for all parties in the future.


The Nordics in the lead

The engineering tools that are used to build essentially all public roads and railways in Norway today are in fact Novapoint and Quadri. The BIM tools have been in rapid development in recent years and have gained widespread acceptance both domestically and abroad. Not the least after Trimble acquired Vianova Systems in 2015.

"The excellent multi-disciplinary engineering and collaboration features of the tools are indisputable," told Ryan Kunisch the assembly of participants. Kunisch is the head of Trimble's global business in this field. "We are very pleased that former Vianova Systems now is part of Trimble. The Sandvika office has gained an international leadership role in Trimble regarding the development of BIM tools. Norway and the Nordic countries are in fact pioneering countries in terms of maturity and use of BIM for infrastructure. BIM Level 3 is now most relevant in new projects.”


Competence Development

Of course most of the approximately 50 lectures at the conference were product-related, and mostly to Novapoint and Quadri. But not only these: Also TILOS (calculation and scheduling of linear projects in a construction phase) and Quantm (helps you through the complex process of finding and selecting the optimal 3D corridor) gained wide attention during the user meeting. All tools provide a quick ROI for customers who actively make professional use of them.

Interestingly also; this year there were very many and young first-time participants at the user conference – from the road and rail authorities, the consulting industry as well as the contractors. There is clearly a certain generation shift going on – which can be seen positively in view of the needed changes in the industry.

Conclusion: The 29th Novapoint user conference in Norway joins a long series of past successful annual conferences – both for the participants and the organizer.