Home / ANALYSIS / Trimble roundtable: BIM to field technology

Trimble roundtable: BIM to field technology

by Yamurai Zendera on Nov 7, 2016

RELATED ARTICLES: BIM Summit: All stakeholders can benefit from tech | BIM Summit: Clients must set benchmarks for users | BIM Summit: Regulators vital for improved adoption

BIM has become something of a hoary term over the last three years in the Middle East construction industry. However, although its adoption lags behind the likes of the UK, which is developing Level 3 BIM, its acceptance is growing.

Megaprojects which are complex by their very nature and often involve multiple interfaces, such as is the case with the new Midfield Terminal Building at Abu Dhabi International Airport and the expanded Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, to name two, are being designed and constructed using BIM.

Leading technology players such as Trimble MEP are educating the industry on ensuring BIM data is properly utilised on the construction site. As part of its ongoing drive to raise awareness, it hosted a closed-session roundtable on BIM to field technology at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai. Invited participants included: Marnitz Schutte, engineering manager ALEMCO; Basheer Massad, Abu Dhabi regional director, EFECO; Chris Milford, BIM/CAD manager, Trans Gulf Electro-mechanical; and Ibrahim Atta-Apau, associate director (digital engineering solutions), Atkins.

Christopher Quirk, business development manager at Trimble MEP, said: “Over the last five years everyone started to invest and spend more time on BIM but only up to the modelling point. What’s the point of doing that work if you can’t transition what you have done onto site?

“You have got to get everyone to invest in this. The main contractors now in the UK, the people who are investing in this BIM to field technology are saying, if you want to come onto this site and subcontract, you have got to use our robot.”

Quirk says he is starting to see a sea change in mentality in the Middle East, albeit at a slower pace than in the UK and USA where Trimble MEP has a strong foothold.

Over the years the company has developed a suite of solutions that transfer BIM models electronically to the job site. Gaining traction in the region is the company’s Robotic Total Stations (RTS), which enables the user to import model data to a hand-held tablet device in the field. Most MEP professionals whether tacitly or otherwise, acknowledge that even before a job has started it will end up requiring some form of expensive reworks, which ultimately impacts profit. Put simply, RTS’ accurate layout of design data negates the need for reworks, says Quirk.

Among the company’s clientele is Trans Gulf Electro-mechanical. Chris Milford, its BIM/CAD manager, said the MEP contractor is benefitting from investing in the technology. By utilising the RTS on one of its projects, Trans Gulf has been able to guarantee that what is being built on site matches precisely with the BIM model.

“The biggest benefit is that you are not giving trade contractors license to go and install where they see fit to install,” said Milford. “You are telling them that once the points are marked and drilled and the anchors are there, that’s where your services go. That’s in accordance with your BIM model. If your model is clash free and approved, there can be no comebacks at all.”

He said the technology is being used by the CAD team as well as the site team and has been straightforward to grasp.

Marnitz Schutte, engineering manager at ALEMCO, said identifiable efficiency savings would be a key factor for contractors in deciding whether to invest in such technology.

“If there is a benefit, what is it going to remove from your work? You can’t just add another element,” he said. “To us it’s about removing cost and inefficiency.”

Schutte said it was critical that contractors ensure staff are properly trained in order to unlock the power of BIM to field technology.

“BIM to field is so far ahead that to get the people that are called BIM or 3D professionals, you need to get the skillsets right up there,” he said.

Schutte added that in order to verify work on site ALEMCO has a “discipline hierarchy” – a standard operating procedure that goes from an engineer to site, and that the company is always interested in more efficient ways of working.

“We are definitely interested in new technology,” he said. “Our heads have turned. We need to follow up with our people to make sure they are ready for that. And if Trimble have said it’s as easy as giving that to a foreman, getting them trained up in a couple of hours or a couple of days, giving them that system and letting them go and set up hanger points or sprinkler points, for example, then that’s something that can remove an inefficiency factor, I can remove a cost factor, I can remove a rework factor.”