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TaaLa: A Successful Project Requires Good Data Models

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When doing a major multi-stakeholder project, there are many things that need to go right time and time again so that work is progressing smoothly. The fundamental improvement of Highway 6's Taavetti-Lappeenranta stretch (the TaaLa project) is a good example of this.

The alliance project includes the Finnish Transport Agency, Skanska Infra, Pöyry Finland and Ramboll Finland. The overall road enhancement will increase traffic flow as well as the safety on the 28-kilometre road. The project is expected to be completed ahead of time.

"Effective data management and always up-to-date design data available to all parties, are essential for such projects in order for the work progress to be on time and without any big surprises," says development engineer Heikki Lehkonen at Skanska Infra.

Skanska´s builders and Pöyry´s design engineers have shared a joint Tekla Civil model database. This has enabled the designers and the constructor to have all the design material available to them in a real-time mutual way, including knowing what the construction site is producing. Experience shows that time is saved and errors are reduced when large construction site model data are not required to be e-mailed or sent through a project databank.

“For example, the contractor's site manager can retrieve construction data directly from the model database and customize the template”, says project coordinator Kyösti Kanerva at Pöyry.

Combining information is also easy when the entire data material resides in one place. It is possible to combine the design material and source data of different design disciplines into the same model view. This simplifies the work planning.

“For example when we are building a road foundation, where drainage is coming, we can combine design models with ground survey data in the same view, and quickly find out whether quarrying will be required or not”, Lehkonen says.

"I believe the shared database is an essential way to improve overall productivity and efficiency," Kanerva summarizes.

The TaaLa project has also been interesting from an information management perspective since the designers of the road section, Pöyry and Ramboll have had different planning systems: Pöyry Tekla Civil and Ramboll Trimble Novapoint. Lehkonen assess´ that the data content transfer has been quite well in the project.

All players in the TaaLa project could combine their tools with Tekla BIMsight. The usage has been less than anticipated though, but the model has raised ideas about future opportunities.

"From our point of view, it could serve as a discussion environment where designers get information from the public and builders. And the different stakeholders can follow the progress of the plan," Kanerva ponders.

Ramboll has been using Trimble´s Novapoint 19 version in the TaaLa project, which according to Mikko Alilonttinen, senior designer at Ramboll’s road section, has made it possible to make a real move to 3D.

The TaaLa project was started with the idea that everything should be modelled. Practice has however showed that there is still a need for drawings, but they can be lighter. Often modelling is enough and this also opens up a new perspective on design.

"We can design better and better when everything is in 3D on the screen: bridges, interfaces, drainage systems, drain lines... We see how they are interconnected and matches," says Alilonttinen.

The Novapoint tools used in the TaaLa project also allow designers to easily work from several physical places. A cloud-based Quadri model server ensures that everyone has the latest version of the design plans at their disposal.

The TaaLa project also revealed differences in the design systems. The Novapoint designers quickly built the models, but getting the measurement data to the construction site took some more time. On the Tekla Civil side, the modelling took longer, but they produced more readily available material to the construction site. There was no significant difference in the duration of the process.

In a big project, technical support is also important: Problems need to be resolved quickly because the progress of many people must be up to date. According to the participants in the TaaLa project, the support from Civilpoint is a good supplement to the companies' own know-how.

"We received some technical support in the beginning and we have faced some challenges along the way, but we have always been able to solve the problems", Lehkonen says.

“Civilpoint has had support people immediately available for us, and they know where we are going. Some of the troublesome things we have worked out together”, says Alilonttinen.

“In addition, joint development is important. We have for example received add-ons for testing and have influenced the features”, Kanerva says.