Playing a Part in Developing the Digital Situation Awareness in Construction

An Overview of Trimble's Efforts and Results in DiCtion Project.

In a (construction) world going more and more into digital, sometimes it is good to stop and take a look at what happened, what is happening, and what we are dreaming of in the industry. This time DiCtion, a Business Finland funded project led by Aalto University's Department of Civil Engineering, has invited us to do so

Our Digital Construction Manager, Jukka Suomi, participated in "The Digital Situational Awareness in Construction" webinar. He walked us through Trimble's contribution to the DiCtion project. Here is a short introduction to the project and a brief recap of Mr Suomi’s presentation.

DiCtion: Boosting Productivity of Construction Through the Digitalization of Workflows

One of the reasons for inefficiencies in construction is that situation awareness is lacking. Construction managers and workers typically have insufficient information about the current and planned states of work on the construction site. Inefficient flow of information seriously makes it difficult for construction workers to get their job done. Instead of focusing on their core tasks, they are searching for and moving materials and tools, or trying to find information.

DiCtion is a project that aims at a future in which every stakeholder in a construction project has access to real-time information about the past, present, and future events of a project–the shared situation picture. DiCtion studies develop and field-test data models, processes, and technologies that improve construction site and supply chain productivity. 

In the DiCtion project, Trimble is looking forward to planning and creating a digital environment for creating, sharing, and consuming the process data linked to physical model objects.

Trimble Digitalization Drivers

DiCtion project’s objective is to present what has happened, what is happening right now, and what is planned to happen in the future. Trimble is addressing that with digitalization drivers or focus areas. 

The Four Trimble's Digitalization Drivers in DiCtion project are: 

1. Creating fundamental common workflow concepts and data models for the industry
2. Building an open integration platform supporting federated workflow based on those concepts
3. Developing next-generation collaborative workflow applications
4. Promoting collaboration ensured by digital involvement and digital consumption.

These four drives create a common ground to develop digitalization in construction. However, Mr Suomi emphasizes the importance of people as main actors making the changes. "The new technology alone is not a rainmaker unless people running the processes are taking it into use and changing the ways of working," He adds. 

The Connected Ecosystem 

Trimble is building this workflow data model in Trimble Connect Ecosystem. Trimble Connect is an open collaboration platform that connects the right people to the right data at the right time - enabling informed decision making and enhancing project efficiency*. "In practice, this means that we are integrating the data into an existing BIM model and documents. We are providing a powerful API for Trimble and third parties’ applications", says Suomi. 

The developed data models and services have enabled great opportunities to integrate different types of ITC systems with BIM data. Trimble’s status data sharing is used in several cases. At the end of 2019, Trimble introduced the first releases of the breakdown structures (Organizer), federated property management (Property Sets), and instant reporting (Content Browser). With the organizer service and property sets, sharing of breakdown structures and property data has become possible. The integration of Tekla Structures and Tekla PowerFab is an excellent example of that. 

At the beginning of this year, Trimble also introduced a Proof of Concept (POC) implementation of integrating an estimation solution with BIM. The integration platform used in this case is generic. It can also be used to integrate any other estimation or scheduling tools and other systems with a breakdown structure-based data models in use. 

The current concrete outcome of Trimble’s effort in the DICtion project is in the common data models and services implemented in the Connected Ecosystem, and the applications and interfaces developed into Trimble Connect. The breakdown structures (Organizer), federated property management (Property Sets), and instant reporting (Content Browser) applications/functionalities are much-helping users to access the data that is useful to get their job done efficiently. “Our target in DiCtion has been to make managing and consuming BIM data made easy and practical in the construction phase. Once the topical data is made easily available for users, people start to use it and shift the industry towards data-driven workflows.”

The Future is Connected

Data is King. However, without collaboration to make the most of the data, nothing will happen. At Trimble, we believe in a connected ecosystem. We can already see how this kind of ecosystem is bringing many benefits to the industry. We also believe a connected ecosystem will open new horizons for lean production planning, cost estimation, procurement, manufacturing, and so on. And there is a lot of potential in combining the connected ecosystem with machine learning, too. 

Our main goal is to build a federated collaborative production management environment. The idea is that different tools can be integrated based on the same standard data. All these should lead to better collaboration between the stakeholders and the seamless flow of information. “This will hopefully improve productivity in the construction industry,” says Suomi.

Find out more about Tekla Structures here!

Read about Tekla PowerFab here!

See what Trimble Connect can do here!

* Diction Project Website (2020) https://www.aalto.fi/en/diction

* Trimble Connect Website (2020) https://connect.trimble.com/

*Disclaimer: The information presented in the webinar and in this article regarding future product features and functionalities is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision. Trimble is under no obligation to deliver any future products, features, or functions within any specified time frame, it at all. Release dates and content are subject to change at Trimble’s sole discretion. 

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