30 years ago, large projects were challenging given the available skills and technology at the time, but the size was limited. Prices ranged around 50–200 million Euro. Today, we have much better building solutions at our disposal, but we are now talking about projects costing 3–12 billion Euro or more. 30 years ago, a hospital could have been built on a greenfield meadow — it was still a large project, but in a fairly simple setting. This is nothing compared to what the parties involved must deal with today, when creating a new, multifaceted building within an existing city or in another built-up environment.
The numbers are scary: According to a study in Germany, 170 large-scale projects have caused additional — as opposed to scheduled — costs of almost 60 billion Euro. These massive cost overruns occur all over the world. Having better tools than those used in the past doesn´t seem to be enough. With Building Information Modeling (BIM), even large, complex projects can be handled efficiently. Yet its real-life application comes with a challenge: BIM, as the name implies, should be all about information. The reality looks quite different, though. Most BIM processes are centered around model-based workflows. Building owners, architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers all face similar challenges with the current model-driven BIM processes — different professions work according to modelling standards that best fit their expected deliverables and contractual duties. As a result, the same information is modeled many times, but from different viewpoints. In addition, when handing over models from one project stage to the next, data loss occurs. Consequently, with a model-driven approach, creating and managing information inside the models: (a) creates silos, (b) means we assign critical information to models which have a limited time span, and (c) is limiting access to those stakeholders who have experience with the given authoring tool.
A data-driven approach solves all the above issues. If we separate the physical storage of geometry and information, keeping all relevant data throughout the building lifecycle in a central database means all stakeholders can enrich the model with information while keeping it visible for all project team members. Stored on a cloud server, any BIM tools can sync to the central database. This ensures consistency and longevity of information up and until the management of the facility. The benefits include seamless cross-discipline data aggregation and collaboration for the entire building lifecycle. In detail, this means that the metadata attached to objects is maintained and updated throughout the planning, design, construction, and operation phases.
The project lead at Queen’s Wharf, Australia (Figure 1), one of the world’s largest construction projects, decided to pursue this approach. They focused on the data itself and organizing this data within one central point for all stakeholders to access. In this project of immense scale, complexity, and innumerable levels of information, the BIM approach allows the team to clearly organize all the project’s key information in an easy-to-access, central place. With the planning and data management tool dRofus, a Nemetschek Group solution, a broader team is able to process their data and consolidate the large amounts of information coming in from multiple sources — even team members who are not trained on professional applications.
At the Nemetschek Group we refer to this data-driven approach as Building Lifecycle Intelligence™ (BLI). It expands the benefits of BIM by making the data available for all stakeholders along the entire lifecycle of the project. For Queen’s Wharf, this includes some impressive dimensions: the final area will cover more than 12 hectares across Central Business District land, encompassing 50 new bars, cafes, and restaurants; 2,000 apartments across three residential towers; and more than 1,000 premium hotel rooms.To plan and coordinate the vast amounts of design data, the project team works extensively with digital collaboration, leveraging four software solutions from the Nemetschek Group. They use Archicad for the design, dRofus for the data management, Solibri Office for model checking, and Bluebeam Revu for managing the comprehensive digital documentation. A shared and continually updated data source across all disciplines enables true collaboration between all stakeholders. It is a real game changer.
Another example of a complex building is the Glasblokkene Project in Bergen, Norway (Figure 2). The fully digital hospital construction project perfectly demonstrates the BLI way of working. The project teams again use the planning and data management tool dRofus to maximize collaboration and efficiency — it is the single source of truth for the entire project, from early planning through to construction and handover, and into operation. As the Master Asset Database for all disciplines, it synchronizes with the models — always up to date and always available to all stakeholders. The results are significant savings, better control, and substantially better outcomes.
In this project in Bergen, product documentation was collected, controlled, and stored in dRofus before the construction started. None of the stakeholders had to go looking for information in different places throughout the project. Reducing the production of PDFs in the project by enabling contractors to update the BIM model and the dRofus database directly on site proved to be a substantial time saver.
Building Lifecycle Intelligence™ enables efficient cross-discipline coordination down to the smallest details through connections between all systems and from all models within the database. The facility management system can then take over the role as the master asset database during operation without any data loss, and with the link to all historical asset data from project(s) still available. It needs an open, connected ecosystem, centered around data that dynamically connects models and documents. Working in an open cloud environment allows anyone to connect and communicate through open protocols and standards, generating real value for all parties — whether for regular, large, or extra-large projects. This is what we call the BLI Way of Working.
Viktor Várkonyi is Chief Division Officer, Planning & Design Division, and member of the Executive Board of the Nemetschek Group, which has been driving forward the digitalization of the AEC/O industry for over half a century. Viktor has more than 25 years of experience in the IT sector and is specialized in the development of BIM solutions for the AEC industry. Over the past 20 years, he has held various leadership positions and was most recently CEO of GRAPHISOFT. Viktor studied Electrical Engineering and holds a Master of Computer Sciences degree from the Technical University of Budapest as well as an Executive MBA from Purdue University in the USA.
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