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Through InfraBIM development projects into an everyday tool

Besides housing construction, information modelling has also been quickly adopted in projects of all sizes related to regional construction and infrastructure. Sito has been actively involved in the development of infrastructural information modelling.

Image: Routes designed based on information models

Actually, the whole matter is crystallised in a slogan by Junior Designer Liisa Kemppainen, who works in Sito’s Information design department. She presented the slogan in her thesis ”Tietomallipohjaisen suunnittelun jalkauttaminen (Implementation of Design Based on Information Modelling)” that was part of a development project of BIM training in the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences: Design by modelling instead of modelling designs.

Is there a better way to put it?

Four other members of Sito personnel besides Liisa Kemppainen also participated in the same training. In total, there were 60 participants in the information modelling training. At the moment, information modelling is clearly a hot topic also in the infrastructural field. It has already become commonplace in the field of housing construction.

In Finland, information modelling know-how has perhaps spread more quickly than expected.

Particularly the generation of young designers that have become native users of information technology already during their childhood and youth have adopted information modelling easily. As a result of training, its use has spread from architectural and construction design also into the design of building services, making the cooperation easier between designers in various fields.

Knowledge and know-how have increased rapidly. “In 2010, when the InfraFINBIM project was started, there were maybe 10–20 persons in the industry that knew what BIM was. Currently, there are 400–500 professionals that use information modelling in their daily work,” confirms Leading Consultant Juha Liukas.

Projects to speed up implementation

Juha Liukas is also Sito’s leading advisor on infrastructure information modelling, so he knows what he is talking about. He has been involved in the InfraFINBIM work package that is related to the PRE programme (Built Environment Process Re-engineering) by RYM Oy that operates as a centre of high-quality expertise and has sped up the breakthrough of information modelling in the infrastructural field. It included the development of InfraBIM terms and modelling instructions, for example. Juha Liukas continues as the chairman of the bSF Infrastructure Business Group. The purpose of the business group is to refine the results until they are implemented.

BuildingSMART Finland is a cooperation forum of the Finnish property and infrastructural field that includes owners and a wide variety of designers, contractors, software companies, universities and polytechnics, and other companies in the construction field. The purpose of the forum is to spread information on information modelling and support those involved in the operation on the implementation of processes that are based on information models.

The objective is to use the development of information modelling and information management to raise the infrastructural field and the whole of Finland into a new boom with the help of increased productivity and competitiveness by 2025. It is a challenging objective but results have also been achieved. Common infrastructure model instructions (Yleiset inframalliohjeet YIV2014) have already been completed as a result of InfraFINBIM.

Competent customers

In the infrastructural field, it is clear that competent customers have undoubtedly affected the speed of the information modelling breakthrough: “A major step in the institutionalisation of information modelling was taken in the beginning of May when the Finnish Transport Agency began to require the use of a source information model developed in the Infra FINBIM project and Inframodel3 (IM3) information transfer format at all of their sites that have started since May,” Juha Liukas points out.

Inframodel is an open format developed in Finland particularly for the transfer of infrastructural information based on the international LandXML standard.

Also, all of the large cities will require the use of IM3.

Important tool at Sito

Even for many professionals, BIM will first bring to mind fine, illustrative 3D images that are run on a computer. “We must bear in mind that information modelling is also information management, and not just 3D models,” says Liisa Kemppainen with amusement.

Sito has wanted to be a pioneer in the development of information modelling as a common tool used for all kinds of designs. Sito has developed CityCad for the design of traffic routes and related infrastructure. CityCad is data model-based, thereby enabling easy quantity calculations, quick comparison of various alternatives, the ‘smart’ demonstration of plan information, production of machine control models and flexible further processing – for example, as a presentation model.

Information management is a crucial part of information modelling. Gathering source information of projects from several sources in the traditional method is slow. Many source information model projects have already been carried out at Sito where information on the current status of a project is gathered and harmonised, or edited, into a format that supports information modelling. This process is almost a routine. Sito’s clientele have happily adopted Sito’s geospatial data service Aino and Louhi service that uses geospatial data.

As source information of these built environment projects can be gathered more easily and more quickly, it will have an effect on the smooth implementation of projects of all sizes. With the help of up-to-date source information, it is possible to prevent the breaking of cables in connection with excavation work, for example.

Plenty of work

There is plenty of work related to the general development of information modelling in the infrastructural field and making it part of daily design and construction work. Judging from the enthusiasm of Juha Liukas and Liisa Kemppainen, it won’t be long before at least every advisor at Sito  will be an expert on BIM.

Text: Dakota Lavento