BIM quality control at Multiconsult

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To help coordinate multiple design disciplines and maintain quality of BIM models, Norwegian engineering firm, Multiconsult analyses IFC models inside a dedicated building information model checking tool from Solibri.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a combination of technology, methods and processes. Succeeding on a complex BIM project with multiple stakeholders, multiple engineering disciplines and multiple CAD tools requires a common platform for successful digital collaboration. At Multiconsult, a leading engineering company in Norway, this is accomplished using buildingSMART standards and a building information model checker, Solibri Model Checker, combined with interdisciplinary control meetings. This approach has delivered great success on the Stavanger University project – Norwegian government agency Statsbygg’s first official BIM project

“A typical project team is a large group consisting of experts from many professions who are indispensable for the project, says BIM manager Thor rjan Holt of Multiconsult. “Not only architects, structural engineers and MEP engineers but also project managers and other administrative project staff are needed for implementation. However, not all have the technical competencies that the technical experts from different disciplines have.”

Multi-disciplinary BIM model

The coordination platform

“Engineers from different design disciplines model using their own BIM tools which can be from the same software supplier and therefore compatible. Often this is not the case,” says Holt. On the Stavanger University project UiS, for example, architectural design was carried out using ArchiCAD, the structural engineers used MicroStation and MEP was designed with MagiCAD.

“In order to be able to coordinate multiple design disciplines we need a common denominator. For us it is the openBIM standard IFC which we require that all tools support. When it comes to BIM tools for the administrative project staff, we have chosen to use Solibri,” continues Holt.

Solibri is a BIM tool that can be used even if one is not able to use BIM authoring tools, and a very useful system for design coordination, quality assurance and progress control. the designs. It uses so-called rules-based analysis, and is able to analyse both individual models and combined models, which can include multiple models by different design disciplines. Solibri includes (for example) rules for validating the quality of the BIM models, accessibility analysis and interference detection to name just a few. It visually presents all design issues found and gives a clear text description of the issue, as well as the physical location, making it easy to get to the bottom of the design issues.

“This analysis and coordination is absolutely invaluable,” says Holt. “This is because different models are not usually coordinated. Some design issues, or errors, will always remain, and often they are interdisciplinary.

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“In order to ensure the highest quality and cost effectiveness it is necessary that we can find these errors and correct them as early as possible in the project. If errors or deficiencies appeared at the site the cost could be very high.”

What is Solibri?

Solibri Model Checker is a program which is able to automatically analyse the quality of BIM models and the designs. It uses so-called rules-based analysis, and is able to analyse both individual models and combined models, which can include multiple models by different design disciplines. Solibri includes (for example) rules for validating the quality of the BIM models, accessibility analysis and interference detection to name just a few. It visually presents all design issues found and gives a clear text description of the issue, as well as the physical location, making it easy to get to the bottom of the design issues.

“This analysis and coordination is absolutely invaluable,” says Holt. “This is because different models are not usually coordinated. Some design issues, or errors, will always remain, and often they are interdisciplinary.

“In order to ensure the highest quality and cost effectiveness it is necessary that we can find these errors and correct them as early as possible in the project. If errors or deficiencies appeared at the site the cost could be very high.”

Frequent meetings

The engineering manager is responsible for the interdisciplinary coordination on Multiconsult’s UiS project. In order to facilitate cooperation and short communication lines they have chosen to locate all project staff in the same room, including both the main architect Link Signatur and Multiconsult’s engineers. The engineering group consists of approximately 20 experts and the engineering manager has implemented a management system where those responsible for different design disciplines attend steering meetings frequently in order to be able to manage the whole process. The frequency of the meetings varies with the progress made.

Preparatory control

“Especially important in keeping the control meetings effective is that project management prepares the meetings in advance with Solibri,” says Holt. Even a ‘non specialist’ with a good understanding of design disciplines and some experience is able to use Solibri and combined BIM models for identifying design issues and irregularities, and prioritise and communicate prioritised problems to those responsible.

“One of the purposes of this practice is that we do not primarily use the interdisciplinary control meetings for revealing problems,” he adds. “Instead we discuss both who should be responsible for correcting errors, and the timing of the corrections so that the schedule will be kept. This way project staff get to use most of their time on what they are best at, namely the project.”

Effective coordination

“With the help of Solibri we actually use the multi- discipline BIM model also as a communications tool,” emphasises Holt. Traditional minutes of the technical meetings can be also replaced by action items generated with Solibri. All this represents quite a big change in the job of the engineering manager. By uploading the updated IFC models one by one to Solibri the project leader is able to address design issues in a structured manner and communicate the findings to the project participants. Thor rjan Holt and his project manager Randi Brekke usually begin ‘deep’ in the building, with either the electrical or ventilation model.

MultiConsult uses Solibri Model Checker for BIM coordination

Structured control

“This has to do with visibility,” says Holt. “The combined models alone are too complex. By integrating and matching the models by different design disciplines, and also controlling each individual model the project leader is able to make an overall assessment of the progress and quality of each model and whether the designs have been coordinated.”

Prioritise

“It is important to make decisions and prioritise,” explains Holt. “All design issues are not equally important. It does not make any sense to require corrections if they are not important. It only creates frustration among the project team. Thus you need to spend a minute considering what is important and what is not. From experience we know that visual control will catch about 60 percent of errors, which is twice what we used to catch using drawings from 2D systems. But Solibri does not stop here.”

Rule-based model analysis

“I can also use Solibri for making more detailed analysis of the building information model using Solibri’s predefined rule sets for interference detection and finding collisions in places where they should not exist,” says Holt. “Or you can do the opposite and have Solibri Model Check that components join properly. And out comes a list of design issues to be resolved, sorted by components. This is something only Solibri Model Checker can do.”

Communication & collaboration

Solibri includes presentation and reporting functionality which is a great tool for presenting and communicating design issues in the project. The engineering manager is able to coordinate design efforts and corrective measures by presenting design issues and advice in detail to designers in the form of a report. The report includes viewpoint, location information and instructions for resolving the issue and assigning responsibility. Thus, design coordination is carried out very efficiently. The history is of course also filed, should one would need to go back in time.

True results

“We are succeeding on the UiS project much better than any other project we have done thanks to Solibri and the BOS-working method we use,” says Holt. “When everyone is gathered in the same room communication is easy and direct so that we can quickly solve problems. You sit down for a short moment and find a solution to the problem.

“Solibri combined with professional knowledge provides great value in BIM context. However, when combined with multidisciplinary expertise you really get great benefits from the tool,” emphasises Holt.

www.astadev.com | www.domos.be

Based on an article by Thor Hestnes published in Norway in cadmagasinet published by NTI Nestor AS.

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