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From physical to digital and vice versa – the future of construction seen on-site Trimble’s new Finland offices

Building information model of Trimble Finland offices

Supporting its mission to change how the world works, Trimble utilized its own technology and software solutions to plan and build its new Finland offices in 2020. Product manager Ian Warner visited Finland to demonstrate the implementation of emerging technologies, including mixed reality, robotic total stations, laser scanning, accurate BIM, and many others.

Trimble’s Field Technologies Group’s product manager Ian Warner is a construction technology advocate who has worked with architects, engineers, contractors, building and project owners, and educational institutions across the world. He is helping the industry improve the design-build-operate lifecycle by showing how new technological solutions can benefit the entire process. Trimble offers unique building, civil and geospatial workflow solutions which will for sure serve the next generation of AECO professionals but which are ready to utilize today for those willing to take the leap.

Visiting Espoo in 2020, Warner talked about how the constructible building information model meets the built environment and what physical to digital and vice versa means in practice. 

“The digital transformation has indeed begun. On the design side, up-to-date software technology offers an online documentation platform for all the different stakeholders in a construction project to share in the cloud. Being able to consume one shared database makes it easy to reference the models of the various design disciplines and combine all the relevant design information into one model so that no choices are made in isolation.”

Sharing and combining the models is a major benefit in terms of time, cost, safety and security

It takes hundreds to thousands of man-hours to put together all the building information models needed for the new office building, and saving, combining and sharing them through the Trimble Connect service is a major benefit in terms of time, cost, safety and security.

“New technology allows recording modifications and obtaining approvals and verifications for changes made in the field real-time by utilizing the data in the building information model,” Warner says. 

On site, we can use robotic total stations with GNSS and GPS options, rapid positioning tools and rugged-use tablets with Trimble Field Link software to ensure models get built as planned. Laser scanning can be done on site by using the new Trimble X7 scanning system with Trimble Field Link as well. Trimble also has the TX6 and TX8 laser scanners where the data is transferred to, for example, Trimble RealWorks software for final analysis and design. The connection between Trimble laser scanners and Tekla Structures allows working with point clouds with high efficiency and accuracy. The point cloud provides a visual overlay prior to or during construction for quality control and assurance when using prefabricated units, for example. To complete the circle, we offer compatible solutions for labor, material and equipment tracking on site.”

Empowering the frontline worker with mixed reality

During his stay in Finland, Warner consulted Geotrim, the Finnish reseller of Trimble’s surveying equipment, such as the X7 laser scanners, and the provider of surveying consultancy and services on the Trimble office construction site in Espoo. Warner also demonstrated Trimble’s then latest development in hardware, the hard-hat-integrated Trimble XR10 with Microsoft HoloLens 2, a combo manufactured and sold exclusively by Trimble.

Construction worker using Trimble XR10 with Microsoft Hololens 2, a hardhat with mixed reality technology.

“We want to empower the frontline worker with mixed reality,” Warner says. “That is why Trimble is investing heavily on both the software and hardware fronts. The Trimble XR10 with HoloLens 2 was announced in February of 2019 with Microsoft at the Mobile World Congress. It integrates Microsoft’s components from HoloLens 2 into a hard-hat aimed at safety-controlled environments, such as construction and manufacturing. The XR10 has all of the same technical benefits as the HoloLens 2 but is powered to go wherever the worker goes.” Using Trimble Connect for Hololens, workers can reference the latest models directly into their hardhats to help with quality control, prefabrication, sequencing, inspections and everyday tasks.

Making construction cool again with all new gadgets

“There is still some resistance to taking BIM to the field, but now with the new software, it’s so easy and automatic and possible to learn quickly without specific training. We are making construction cool again with all the new gadgets, while taking constructability -- the highest level of detail including all the nuts and bolts -- to the construction site and the workshop floor. Regarding documentation before, during or after construction, with a couple of clicks instead of lots of typing, an image from a laser scan is worth a thousand pictures, and the documentation is valid and usable in different phases of the project,” Warner says. 

“This is a big deal in large projects and could carry life and death importance in projects such as hospitals. If we can hand over an accurate as-built model to the hospital maintenance staff, they can make more informed decisions before cutting into or shutting down critical life safety systems. These millimeter accurate as-builts can greatly affect the performance and future profitability for any project.”

“The implementation of the latest technology requires basic understanding from the contractors, however, who may think it’s expensive to have people trained to use the devices and programs. My argument is, they can’t afford not to join the progress in order to stay in business. The competition will surpass them and steal the best workers, and the youth being so used to technology these days, teaching people to use laser scanners only takes a couple of hours, not to mention that today all age groups are able to use smartphones. There are tens of thousands of total stations already in use across the world and thousands of laser scanners in use in the US,” Warner points out. So, contractors should jump into the technology world before getting left behind.

XR10 mixed reality hard hat in pilot use on the Trimble offices site in Finland

The builder of Trimble’s new Finland offices NCC was the first in the country to pilot Trimble XR10 hard hat on site. Feedback from NCC’s VDC team helped further improve the Trimble Connect for Hololens application and its user experience. The headset was featured in Finnish technology and construction media, and it is available to buy in Finland. 

“Thanks to our collaboration with Trimble, we are able to pilot on site the latest devices and software applications that help plan and carry out construction,” said digital engineer Eero-Pekka Piipponen of NCC in the company’s bulletin. 

Piipponen says the hard hat allows to see the construction site “with new eyes” and that it leads the way towards mixed reality. Piipponen points out that this is something unprecedented and that after the first “almost absurd” experience and through some practice the tool has been in daily use on site. Based on six months’ experience, he believed XR10 will have many uses in the future. Building services technicians embraced the headset on the Espoo site. In the future, the technology can be used to monitor and measure on-site completion, for example. At the time of the epidemic, the device allowed transmitting live footage from the construction site to a site meeting held remotely. 

“Mixed reality helps manage details, develop design and modeling, complete various phases faster, improve understanding, and reduce errors,” Piipponen says. NCC plans to put the hard hat into use on its other sites, too.

“Feedback from NCC’s VDC team will help us further improve the Trimble Connect for Hololens application and its user experience,” said Jussi Ketoja of Trimble in Finnish construction newspaper Rakennuslehti

A “super graph” of XR10 was published on the Finnish Tekniikka & Talous magazine’s site

Robot dog Spot demonstrated on site in Finland

A special visitor got to sniff around the construction site in Espoo, Finland: robot dog Spot, the result of Trimble’s collaboration with mobile robot developer Boston Dynamics. This was the first time Spot is used on NCC’s construction site in Finland.

Spot the robot dog connects Trimble’s precision data collection technology with Boston Dynamics’ robotics for the benefit of construction. It represents cutting-edge technology to automate processes and improve productivity and safety on the jobsite. Spot is part of the Finnish Building 2030 consortium and research project where Trimble is a member.

For example, Spot reduces the need to schedule countless hours of walking and waiting for scans and measurements and can do the dirty and dangerous work to keep workers safe. In a large geographic area, Spot with SPS986 can do precision topographic surveys. It can take on repetitive work, such as daily stockpile analysis, quality assurance, and as-built analysis, and keep the team out of extreme environmental conditions. There is an endless array of potential applications and benefits.

Spot the robot equipped with Trimble X7 scanner visiting the construction site of Trimble's Espoo office

On site in Espoo, Spot skipped along happily around the new office building and did not hesitate to climb the huge staircase, among other tricks. For the demonstration, it was controlled by Kim Nyberg, the leader of the Technology unit within Trimble Buildings, while Darren Thomson, Senior Software Developer at Trimble Navigation New Zealand, commented on the action from the other side of the globe. 

Integrated with Trimble’s control software, Spot was equipped first with a camera, then with the Trimble X7 Scanner leased for the occasion by Kari Immonen from Finnish Trimble’s reseller Geotrim. Kept in direct line of sight with the remote control, Spot behaved very well and looked stable. It doesn’t obey verbal commands but it has a microphone, and its camera can be controlled with gestures. With sufficient bandwidth and a 4/5G base station, Spot can be controlled from anywhere in the world; all the way from New Zealand, for example. 

After a proper demo tour indoors, Spot got to walk outside in the sun, too. Surprised and excited, the site staff hurried over to snap photos with their mobile phones. When Spot gets tired, it docks to recharge.

To learn more about how we can help with your next steps of the constructible process, visit our solution pages.