Tailor-made solutions for project information needs with BIM and GIS integration

How do you prevent project information from being stored at two locations or not stored at all? Relatics can solve a significant part of the information issues on projects. But Relatics alone will not cover the full scope on a large integral project, states Maarten Visser from the Witteveen+Bos engineering firm in the Netherlands. “For instance when different project applications are accessing the same information. In such cases, it is practical for a successful project progression to store information once at one central location in the most suitable system. In order to meet these specific information requirements during projects, we integrate sources like GIS, BIM and more in Relatics.”

Modifications per project

Witteveen+Bos have been using Relatics to support Systems Engineering since 2011. The focus here is at the front end of the process, for instance setting up a program of requirements. Visser: “Even though we have developed our own template, modifications are made per project, or we may experiment with new functions. A good example is managing interfaces and objects using Relatics and GIS.”

More insight leads to better specifications

Systems Engineering is highly effective in improved control of complex processes. Visser explains: “You cut the entire system up in small objects, which creates many interfaces. We try to safeguard the location of these objects and their geographical interfaces by specifying interface requirements. However, when using just Relatics, it is not always immediately clear what the context of an object is or where it is located. GIS information is a valuable addition in such situations. In addition, the integration of a GIS viewer means that objects, interfaces and their locations are completely transparent. An extra GIS layer in the workflow also ensures that users can modify information or add other relevant data. This extra information provides extra insight into the situation, which enables the project team to deliver better specifications.”

externe interface
gis

Easy and reliable re-use of metadata

The management of work packages and products at Witteveen+Bos is also supported by Relatics. The metadata – product name, status and document number – is documented for each product. These data need to be consistent in the subsequent process. However, this was not common practice, Visser confirms. “Previously, when someone created an AutoCAD drawing in the design phase, the metadata first needed to be entered manually. That intermediary step was time-consuming and error-prone. It is much easier to automatically synchronize metadata for drawings using Relatics.” Witteveen+Bos developed a web service to solve this problem. “That is much more practical, since the user decides which information from Relatics is automatically imported. This solution prevents errors and discrepancies in the metadata, and is highly efficient for designers working on multiple projects at the same time.”

160607_001HR_Luchtfoto Arnhem-Nijmegen

Smart data access provides added value for customers

Another commonly used application of Relatics within Witteveen+Bos is the option for generating contract documents. Visser says: “At certain times in a project, we have to share contract information with customers, including things like programs of requirements, function trees and space trees. Since not all of them use Relatics, we used to share that information using a flat PDF. The drawback in using that method is that a great deal of valuable information gets lost during this conversion. We wanted to change that.” After careful research, an external interface provided the solution. Visser: “Using a website, we provide our clients not just a way to access the data, but the accompanying insights as well. Using the information from the program of requirements and the binding documents, they can improve their understanding of the contract. We also enhance the information with photos or 3D links. By extending our services just a bit beyond the usual delivery of contract documents, we give our customers extra added value. The strength lies in the fact that the data is already available, so it represents hardly any extra work for us. At the same time, it can save our client a huge amount of work.”

Document all data in one single location

According to Visser, the common denominator of the examples provided is that they all originate from common practice and respond to a clear need for information. “Choosing the right system for the right type of data is the core of information management, in my opinion. In order to prevent fragmentation of data, we document everything at one single location and create links where necessary. The bottom line is that there is always a certain need for tailor-made solutions to meet the need for information in projects. This is how we meet that demand.”

About Maarten Visser

Maarten Visser is working as a building information manager at Witteveen+Bos. He is responsible for the implementation of Relatics at Witteveen+Bos. From this position he acts as project manager, Systems Engineer or BIM Advisor in complex multidisciplinary projects. Within Witteveen+Bos, he is involved in various advisory and working groups such as the task force Systems Engineering and the BIM Advisory Group.

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