Äripäev, construction news, January 2019
Juuli Nemvalts

Optimization and profitability are discussed a lot in construction. Experts believe that standstills and failures at a construction site take about 70% of performance. Now, solutions are sought which would provide a chance to be more economic, identify possible deviations in a project, and arrange the whole logistics chain smoothly despite the object under construction.

AS E-Betoonelement, the service provider of construction of concrete elements, applies digital modelling (BIM—Building Information Modeling) in the enterprise, which enables to test a building by software and to understand the possible “bottlenecks” of constructions even before the work actually starts on the site.

Speaking of the advantages of using the digital model, the manager of the design department Jaanus Olop highlighted that all the material volumes are provided for the manufacturer in an elaborated model. As it is possible to enter the requirement of the materials to the software of the enterprise resource planning (the ERP system) automatically, there is no need to calculate any order of materials manually based on the drawings.

Moreover, Olop adds that there will be no errors caused by entering the material manually. In the model, it is possible to turn the pictures from every corner on the screen, which enables to plan the order of the assembly according to the knots used in the project.

As the time function is included in the model, it is possible to plan the material requirement in time—to order the materials to the warehouse on time. It is possible to check in advance how much the elements weigh, which in turn enables to verify that the crane ordered would be adequate to execute the works. Olop states that the virtual model makes it also easier to monitor the schemes of construction processes. “There is more clarity, and the number of errors is reduced.”

Marko Haabjärv, the manager of the installation department, mentions that whereas the designers who use the programme daily have good skills, the ones who do not use BIM at a construction site on a daily basis are in danger of not rooting the skills of software handling and the efficiency might be little.

Information flow

In construction, it often happens that circumstances become more precise and it is necessary to change a project in the course of work. Olop emphasizes that in making changes, the first priority would be to inform all the parties about what was change and why. He notes that the BIM model is irreplaceable in the analysis of the impact of changes. As all the parts of the project are included in the complex project, it is easy to assess what happens when the location of one wall is changed in comparison with the location of the ventilation ducts or other devices—and vice versa, if you install the ducts at another location, different crossings can be detected easily in the model. If you plan to install girders, the model will show if these will be in the way of the crane. In ordering elements, it is also easy to check if the order of ordering elements to a construction site is correct or a post under two girders has not been ordered by mistake.

“It is also easier to evaluate impacts and see alternative options,” Olop continues. As to his words, it is important that everyone has the chance to use the BIM at the construction. “The skill to read the information entered and to explain it to the others is an issue with key importance, which presumes high-quality data entry by the designer, material producer, and the builder.” Hence, every project could have its own BIM coordinator.

Keep material consumption under control

Furthermore, BIM makes it easier to compile consolidated tables and to calculate the consumption of materials. “I operate in the BIM system when calculating weights, specifying installation dates, and ordering concrete elements and other materials, where it is possible to extract the installation schedule and place orders in the production programme accordingly. This is our growth spot for us to assess the whole process more smoothly,” mentions Haabjärv. He admits that if the construction project is not theirs and it is managed by the office of a client, it is more complicated to handle changes and all the information. “During the course of the project, it is asked in our own company if this or that works. However, it is difficult to provide feedback on other external projects. Especially if you have to provide all the information afterwards, the same person will not work with the next project, or information is not transferred sufficiently fast,” he lists examples.

Olop emphasizes that BIM is no miracle tool. In his opinion, processes must be set. “It is a modern tool which enables to complete some tasks in an easier and quicker way.”

BIM reduces paperwork

As to Olop’s words, “bottlenecks” in the information flow arise from unexpected factors. BIM makes the construction process digital and reduces paperwork, making the information transfer to other parties of the project quicker and more accurate. For instance, if the manufacturer has laid the concrete, the designers, builders, and contracting entities—everyone, who has access to the model—have all the information. “It helps the contracting entity to plan cash-flows and enables to check the volume of the works executed. The whole construction process becomes more transparent, enabling to turn the old project management methods into more contemporary ones. The new and less used methods will receive more say.”


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Indrek Allmann
Executive Board Member of the Estonian Association of Architects

BIM brings construction work into indoor conditions

Looking at what goes on in Scandinavia or in Latvia, for instance, we are clearly one step ahead in the field of BIM. It seems that we are simply used to innovations in Estonia.

Design tools are being developed day by day. Based on my experience, I can claim that most of the communication with the builder at larger objects in Estonia is carried out 100% in BIM nowadays.

Speaking of BIM, it is necessary to understand that actually it is nothing but a part of bringing classical construction work to indoor conditions for architects and engineers.

If it is not stated in the budget of a development, it would be improper to expect someone to do it a 100% out of pure enthusiasm.

At first, it should be established if the object is large or small, and if the builder is also the developer. I would argue that in terms of a smaller building, craftsmanship is more important than BIM—additional information flow in the field the person is used to manage in his own head anyway will not add anything.

However, it is different with larger objects, where communication with the actual contractor of the work is improved via visualization in addition to simplifying the work of the budget department crucially. As the BIM project can be monitored more easily, the risk of various additional works emanating from possible reconstruction needs or other unexpected factors for the developer is reduced.

I would also like to outline that BIM does not mean a better project automatically. BIM is a tool like a regular pencil. BIM makes it possible to plan something very crooked perfectly.

Different standards of BIM are today’s challenges—the State Real Estate Ltd has its own, Rail Baltic has its own, and developers and consultants have their own. It would be beneficial to consolidate, which would make it easier for everybody—this is the basis for an even accuracy level of a budget as well as better cooperation between subcontractors at a site.

The most crucial thing is not to forget that the “contradictions” of the project indicated by the programme may be of minor importance in comparison with a situation where the architectural or engineering-technical solution is poor in essence.