Maritime Center Vellamo

Commissioned by the Finnish City of Kotka, the Maritime Center Vellamo at the old port of the city has accommodated two museums since 2008. Its shape, designed by Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, brings to mind an image of waves in the sea. 

The building frame was erected using the 4D production model of Lemcon Oy, the main contractor. The model — that also includes an erection schedule — is based on a structural model created by Consulting Engineers Magnus Malmberg Oy using Tekla software.

Tight schedule calls for effective solutions

The erection schedule of the geometrically demanding steel frame of Vellamo building and its associated fixtures was particularly tight because the original budget for the project was exceeded, and the need to raise additional funding caused a delay in starting the construction work. The steel frame, weighing over 2,000 tons, was designed, manufactured and erected in less than six months. The project management model was chosen because the project involves exceptionally many complicated structures whose detailed implementation required creating additional ideas when the work was already in progress. With its effective visualization, the building information model is an excellent tool for planning installation.
The roof structures of Vellamo consist of several structural solutions of exceptional diversity. Of these, elements like shell slabs, sheets and cavities were modeled. “The product model enables much more efficient viewing and installation planning of frame structures compared to 2D plans, because a building frame of this complexity is difficult to visualize using 2D plans alone,” says Project Engineer Teemu Nivell of Lemcon. “Viewing the details of joints in the model brought much more knowledge to the process than browsing through a bundle of drawings,” he adds.

Quicker work planning

Planning of work, for example the installation order, is quicker using the building information model than by studying the 2D prints — in particular with a building of such geometrical complexity,” Project Engineer Matti Partanen of Lemcon adds.
In a site like Vellamo, there are a vast number of steel structure drawings, but the model has a specific function that makes it easy to find the manufacturing drawings of any part. The model also makes it easy to create a list of the elements of a certain block or section, so that the entire construction chain of design, manufacture, delivery and installation sequence can be planned. The list contains all the necessary details of individual elements, such as weight, profile dimensions and installation number. The list can also be complemented with an installation schedule to make planning the logistics and production at the manufacturing plant easier than it would be using 2D drawings.” 

Structual model as the basis for 4D modeling

The 3D structural model created by Consulting Engineers Magnus Malmberg Oy, the company responsible for structural design, using Tekla Structures was the basis for the 4D model used by the main contractor that was supplemented with design and installation schedule details and included all technical information required for manufacturing and installing the frame structures. The production schedule of H-Steel Oy Ltd, the steel workshop supplying the building frame, was also linked to the same frame model. This way, the construction site was kept up to date regarding the status of design and manufacture. “The model reduces the amount of on-site checks required, warns in advance of any disruptions, and enhances schedule planning and control,”  Matti Partanen describes.

The building information model containing detailed construction element data can also be utilized by other parties in addition to the project management, such as the steel workshop H-Steel Oy Ltd that supplied the steel frame in this project. Says Jukka Suomi, the Product Manager of construction management segment at Tekla who assisted in the modeling work:
A well-functioning building information model is like the musical score for a symphonic orchestra — it controls all the actions of the orchestra and ensures that everyone plays the same tune”.
Modeling of structural data could be used more frequently and extensively in the implementation and management of construction projects, in the scheduling of installation work, erection of the frame, building technology and in property maintenance.

Building information modeling is becoming the industry standard

Development Manager Annikki Karppinen of Lemcon expects that the parties to construction projects need to learn to work together before building information modeling really establishes itself as an industry norm. Teemu Nivell basically agrees: “The model should be deployed earlier in the projects. As early as at the time when agreements are concluded for design work, it pays to consider whether the project is one where modeling will improve quality control, speed up the construction process, reduce design errors and make tendering calculations easier. Before starting the project, it is a good idea to have a joint meeting to agree on how the model is to be used, what the common rules of engagement are, and to ensure that as many people as possible know how to use the modeling software.

Models allow a reduction in the amount of time-consuming routine work, and the time thus saved can be used for tasks that produce more added value,” Karppinen continues. “The details of quantities, for example, are required for almost everything in a construction project: for cost and schedule control, procurement, work planning, manufacturing and for determining the degree of completion. Quantity management using models saves time that can instead be used, for example, for investigating alternative design and implementation solutions. Since 3D plans are much more illustrative than 2D drawings, any errors, ambiguities and problems in the plans can be detected early, before they cause any further problems on site. Further, the combination model of different areas of construction design is an excellent tool for integrating different plans.” 

When the parties to the project — designers, contractors, materials and element suppliers — increasingly learn to work with building information models, we can expect an improvement both in the efficiency of building design, construction and maintenance processes and in the standard of quality that these processes produce. Better data management also produces better information for the decision-making of property developers and helps ensure that the outcome of the project meets the objectives set by the property developer.