At Strukton Rail too, we really benefit from BIM

Written by
Strukton Rail
Published on
22 November 2018

What's been a regular happening for years in utility construction is now gradually making an entrance in the rail industry: building information modelling (BIM). Sander Lokhoff, BIM promotor at Strukton Rail, is enthusiastic.

Sander Lokhoff

Sander would like to tell you more about the application possibilities within the rail infrastructure

Planning, drawing, materials, budget: it's all possible using BIM. So the planning sheets on the wall are now a thing of the past. At Strukton Rail, we are busy experimenting and what we've seen looks good. These experiments started last year during the work at Tilburg station. Although it was a pilot with a limited budget, the data in BIM already gave us much more insight and overview than usual. 

Fotograaf: Bouwfotografe

Sleepers in BIM

Last summer, the pilot was repeated in the BBV Veluwe project where we took it a step further. Whereas in Tilburg we limited ourselves to a 3D model and a plan, at BBV Veluwe we took a much more structured approach. A good example is the input of objects like sleepers. You can enter these under the name of the manufacturer, supplier, type number, in English or in Dutch. If you don't do that uniformly, BIM becomes a puzzle and that's not the intention. We chose to enter objects under the same number as in our purchasing system, including all the information we have about them, such as construction year, maintenance instructions and specifications. 

"Typing everything again is a lot of work and error-prone"

Failure costs: looking for information

That structuring of information is very important and has many advantages. BIM enables us to retrieve data from public registers, for example. That means that when we use a new component for a job, we don't need to look up all sorts of information about the regulations, because it's all given in the BIM model. Without BIM, it can sometimes take us longer to find information than processing it. And we all find that so normal that we no longer regard it as failure costs. But it is. Another example: typing all the information. We receive a pdf with a drawing by mail, we print it and manually count components. We then put that number in Excel, after which a colleague types out that information from Excel in the purchasing program. That's a lot of work and very prone to error. With BIM, that's all in the past.

"BIM forces you to think about things better and share that information with each other"

Seeing the same thing

We're not there yet, but the pilot at BBV Veluwe has already produced new insights and thus advantages. For example, the work planner sent me an overview of the logistic movements, including those of a rail-based crane which was needed on the job. When I wanted to process that information in the BIM model, I was immediately confronted with the facts. Because which rail was the crane coming on? And from which direction? BIM forces you to think about things better and share that information with each other. With all the information about the project, I made a visual animation, a video, of the decommissioning. The whole project team watched it before the decommissioning itself. The great advantage is that you all see what's going to be happening and - very important - you all see the same: this is how we've agreed to do the work. For example, the animation showed the route of a tractor with a trailer with ballast driving to and from a depot. Two colleagues immediately got into a discussion about it, because one of them would have preferred a different route to prevent issues with cutting permits. Thanks to BIM, they conducted that conversation beforehand and not during the decommissioning. 

Bouwinformatiemodel op computer
Fotograaf: Bouwfotografe

Really start using it in 2019

After the second pilot, I'm sure that BIM can provide lots of benefits for us. The software and technology are far enough developed that we can really start using it. The next step is our organisation. That's going to be interesting, because we're all used to working without BIM. However, I think we're going to see more of BIM, among other things because the management is enthusiastic. My aim is to really start using BIM in 2019. So not just as a pilot alongside the standard working method, but without a 'safety net' and preferably in a project involving several disciplines. Scary? Not really. I showed BIM to a work planner who'd said beforehand that he didn't like it. Even he was enthusiastic. He said: "BIM will bring us lots of advantages." I totally agree with him.

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