WHILE working at London’s Victoria Station project, Keller's Bruce Stephenson took the first step towards a building information modelling (BIM) system. He is about to launch a new system in the UK - an input to a wider initiative to get Keller BIM fit across Europe and the Middle East by 2020.
BIM can mean different things to different people, but essentially it involves development of a 2D or 3D model of an asset with ‘as-built’ information attached. This can then be used over the lifetime of a project from construction through to maintenance and, if necessary, demolition.
“During our work on the Victoria Station project, manually inputting and changing as-built information was extremely time consuming and could have led to mistakes, so we tried to automate everything as far as possible,” explains Bruce, an engineer by training and now our BIM Development Manager for the UK. “The system we created was very well received and I thought, if we could do that for more customers, it’s got to be a win.
Supporting our clients
So, over the past year, Bruce has been working with the Keller IT team, a specialist software company and colleagues across Keller UK. Together, they’ve developed a way for us to automatically create interactive two- and three-dimensional models to support our teams and clients.
“Say, for example, we’ve developed a pile design. We generally use a schedule to manage the construction and identify changes. Now we can use this schedule to create a 3D model that shows the length of those piles, top, base and diameter, so the client knows exactly where they are in the ground. You can move through the model, click on and bring up the information for a particular pile. For example, what the piles are made of, maximum working load – all the details that are normally put in an operational maintenance manual, often stored in a library somewhere and perhaps never used again.
“Our bespoke data drop application then pushes the information generated during construction (from our on-board instrumentation) through a checking process before entering it into the model, updating each element to as-built status.
“Clients today can spend hundreds of thousands of pounds investigating their own assets. With a more easily accessible electronic model, they can interrogate the data much more readily and it’s much simpler to carry out work in the future.”
Saving time, improving quality
The new system won’t just provide an accurate electronic record for our clients, it will also help improve our productivity. For example, when it was tested on a project in Liverpool, the drawing office was able to auto-generate a model for 1,200 piles in just 15 minutes – a task that would normally take three days.
It can also help with project planning. “The quicker and more easily we can get a model into the hands of someone in operations, the better we can plan jobs – so we can go to site better prepared to get the work done. In my experience, it’s not always easy to take a number of drawings and translate those into a job, but people can understand a 3D model much more clearly.”
The system can also be used by supervisors or project engineers on site. “Taking information from our rigs, it compares what we’ve installed against the original design intent” says Bruce. “It will flag up any discrepancies and set off workflows that notify people automatically of a problem. If a pile in the ground is too short, we can find out that day, rather than weeks or months later. This system allows us to be much more proactive with our quality management procedures.”
All publicly funded work in the UK must be carried out using BIM, so this system allows us to meet UK requirements. Other countries in Europe will also need to be BIM-ready soon, so Bruce says there’s keen interest in what he’s doing in the rest of Keller.
“I’d like to think that the system we use throughout Keller will be virtually the same, at the moment we’re not sure how different countries will mandate BIM, but the principles are bound to be very similar,” he explains. “There is interest from across Keller and we’re keeping colleagues in the loop, but people want to see it being used on real jobs.”
They won’t have long to wait as the system is being trialled on a jet-grouting underpinning project at Marble Arch in London within a few weeks.
A wider initiative led by Clemens Kummerer, Engineering Director, EMEA, aims to get the whole of EMEA ‘BIM fit’ by 2020.
“We will take and flex the UK model for use in some European pilots starting in Q2 this year,” explains Clemens. “This will give us more experience and generate additional reference cases. Longer term we’d like to have a coordinated Keller platform for BIM. If all goes well, by 2020, we’ll be using BIM in the majority of our EMEA business units, producing significant benefits for us and our clients.”