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Building the Present, Creating the Future

Menno de Jonge, Director Digital Construction, Royal BAM Group nv

Building the Present, Creating the FutureMenno de Jonge, Director Digital Construction, Royal BAM Group nv

Digital is our normal

The world of construction is changing fast and there is no stopping digitalization. Royal BAM Group is embracing Digital Construction and we have earned ourselves a reputation in the market as a leading player in the construction world's digital revolution. Our slogan, 'We built it before we-build it', is testament to the numerous innovative digital initiatives, ranging from 3D printing to virtual and augmented reality and from BIM to the use of smart algorithms to collect data. We create the present built environment (physical) while we are creating the future built environment (digital).

Digital Construction enables us to manage our clients’ expectations more effectively. We also need Digital Construction to manage our projects more safely and efficiently and to realize better project outcomes. It's absolutely necessary to guarantee our company's future. Digital is our normal! Digital Construction focuses on our primary processes across the whole lifecycle of projects, from tendering till delivery of projects.

The Digital Construction lifecycle

Figure 1 visualizes BAM's Construction 4.0 vision and is used to explain how we apply Digital Construction technologies to digitize our construction processes throughout the project lifecycle with the ultimate goal of realizing our process more efficiently, with fewer errors, cheaper, faster and with less manpower, thereby increasing labor productivity and realizing a safer and more sustainable sector.

Of course, bam is not alone, we have to involve our stakeholders and chain partners in the digital transformation. It's certainly not just about applying digital technologies, it's also about improving our processes and results and training our staff to achieve our end goals. Ultimately, people are the most important link in the digital transformation.

Digital and Physical

The image shows the Digital and the Physical side of our project life cycle. In BAM, we use the slogan "we build it digitally before we physically build it", ("We built it before we build it"). In other words; we prepare our projects in a digital way and create a Digital Master that is used as input for the physical realization of our projects.

A Digital Master is an accurate digital representation of a building/facility and has two goals. Firstly, it helps both the end user and the builder to visualize the project and make it easier to understand what you can be expected as a final product. And secondly, it can be used by a project team in preparing the construction methods and associated techniques and processes. A visual representation helps identify manufacturability issues well before the project is realized. This helps save time and money and avoid costly mistakes that in some cases can't be reversed or changed.

The six lifecycle steps

For us, a project life cycle consists of six important process steps.

1.We start by scanning the existing situation. This can be about a new construction (greenfield) situation where we are going to realize a new project or about an existing situation that needs to be renovated. One of the methods we use is 3D laser scanning (on a tripod or attached to a drone), to create 3D point clouds that will be used as the basis for the design. Other examples for scanning are recording the information provided by a client and outlining the existing situation

2.We then use this 3D scan in the Design step, where we use 3D modeling technologies to develop the design of a project. We coordinate the designs of different disciplines (including concrete, steel, façade, installations) and check for possible conflicts (clashes) between the disciplines. In the design we take into account an industrial way of production, we use DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) as a design philosophy, where we also support aspects such as circular construction. During 3D modeling, more and more technologies are being used to accelerate design; think of parametric and Generative Design.

3.The final step in the Digital side of the life cycle is the Simulate step, where we use different simulation technologies to optimize the Digital Master of our project. Here we simulate planning and logistics (4D planning), determine automated quantities and costs (5D estimating) and look at topics such as structural analysis, manufacturability, life cycle analysis (LCA), health & safety, routing and signage, acoustics, fire safety, lighting, waste management and many other aspects. Through the use of advanced technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual and Augmented reality (VR and AR), we constantly strive 

4.to improve our working methods in order to achieve the most efficient and qualitatively best end result for our clients and end users.

5.Once we have completed the Digital Master, we are ready to move on to the Physical side of the life cycle. We start by producing objects that are assembled at a later stage to the final building/facility. During production, we strive to produce as many semi-finished products as possible in an industrialized factory environment (offsite) using CAD-CAM machines, robots, 3D printers and more. A number of these factories are owned by BAM, others by our chain partners, it is of course important that a factory that is owned can be provided with sufficient flow from our projects.

6.These semi-finished products are then transported (by air, water, rail or road) to the construction site where they are assembled together with locally produced parts until the final configuration. This resembles an IKEA or LEGO type of system often referred to as Industrialized Construction (IC) or Offsite Manufacturing. During the production and assembly process steps, we actively monitor our lean processes, monitor and safeguard quality, stakeholder management and monitor all kinds of aspects such as safety and well-being of our employees, access to construction sites, the weather and more. We can link this information to the 3D model that we have with us on our tablets that we use on the construction site. Before we transfer to the client, we record all relevant information in our "as-built" model needed to maintain the project (Digital Twin).

The last process step mentioned in the circle is Live (or Operate) where the project is transferred to the end user or customer. This phase is often referred to as the Operation and Maintenance or Facility Management phase. If BAM is still involved, we also apply digital technologies to support our projects in this process step. We use sensors and Internet of Things technology to monitor our projects and then use preventive maintenance processes. All this information forms the basis for the Scan step.

Data

During all the process steps described above, a lot of data is produced and managed in on-premise and cloud-based environments. This data is a rich source of information that we use to learn and scale by applying artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning algorithms to provide our project teams with predictive information and dashboards.

The other side of the coin - Cybersecurity

Many construction processes and environments are being interconnected, with increasing use of internet of things technology, edge computing and 5G networks on construction sites and in factories. This gives criminals new opportunities to commit cybercrime.

In projects, we must constantly consider the security risks to the Construction 4.0 world. A cyberattack has potentially catastrophic consequences for worker safety, environmental exposure, and the financial consequences of manufacturing interruptions. In collaboration with our cyber security specialists, we continuously work on securing our organization and our processes and systems against these risks.

 

 

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