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Visualize Your BIM Model Using AR Technology

Den prosjekterte modellen av nye Nerlandsøybru i Herøy i Møre og Romsdal, visualisert gjennom Trimble SiteVision.

A new bridge, that will replace the old Nerlandsøy Bridge from 1968 is being designed. The bridge connects the two islands Bergsøya and Nerlandsøy in Herøy Municipality in Norway. Rambøll is well underway with the bridge design. 

Under normal circumstances, at this stage in the project, Rambøll would usually bring paper drawings of everything from the road design to the bridge foundation when inspecting the site with the contractor. 



They would then be meeting on-site with a collection of drawings, going back and forth between the drawings to compare the road design with that of water and sewer, and so on, Mili Myrteza Terstena from Rambøll explains. 

As Head of Automation and BIM-Lead, Terstena works with innovation and automation of processes and tasks in Rambøll. He has a passion for new AR visualization technologies. Instead of using paper drawings, Rambøll utilized Trimble SiteVision to visualize the models on site when meeting with the Owner, Møre, and Romsdal County Council, early in January of 2021. "I will never again use 2D drawings for site inspections, commented Halvor Knutsen, Head of Road at Rambøll, during his first experience with utilizing SiteVision on site."

They would then be meeting on-site with a collection of drawings, going back and forth between the drawings to compare the road design with that of water and sewer, and so on, Mili Myrteza Terstena from Rambøll explains. 


Visualizing the 3D BIM model with AR model on your mobile phone

Rambøll uses the Novapoint software to design Road and Water and Sewer. In the case of the new Nerlandsøy Bridge project they additionally use the Tekla solution to design structures. All domain designs are imported to Trimble Quadri to form the complete infrastructure model.

The TrimBIM format is used when exporting model data from Quadri to SiteVision, this ensures that the texturing and the high-performing 3D viewing capabilities in the Quadri model are maintained. If you store your files in Trimble Connect, these can be opened with SiteVision for viewing on-site, Anders Høie, from Trimble, explains.  
SiteVision supports open formats such as IFC and DWG. Hence, using the Novapoint or Quadri solutions is not a requirement in order to succeed with SiteVision. The data flow remains the same.


Jan Halvor Knutsen is inspecting the 3D model design of the new Nerlandsøy Bridge using Trimble SiteVision. Photo: Rambøll

When inspecting the site with the County Council, Knutsen, the Project Manager at Rambøll and responsible for the Nerlandsøy Bridge project, had a whole new experience:

We were able to visualize the 3D model and see how the project will actually look, with accurate positioning and dimensions. We were also able to see where we need to make adjustments to ensure that the model design works, says Knutsen. With SiteVision, the user can examine the model in the context of the real world and move around inside it, inspecting the design from all angles. 

Knutsen also explains that the feedback from the Owner's side is that this way of conducting site inspections makes it significantly easier to visualize the project than with the use of 2D drawings. 


Enabling more informed decision-making 

Viewing and experiencing the designed 3D model on-site provides a much more comprehensive and holistic impression of the planned infrastructure than does a deck of drawings. Also, traditionally the ability to visualize the model in the field is based on experience, Terstena comments. 

This image is from SiteVision displaying parts of the Nerlandsøy Bridge project, it shows how the new road, displayed with the correct size and position, will coincide with the existing road. Photo: Rambøll

The civil engineers conducting the model design have this experience, but it is likely that not all the other project stakeholders have this ability. This is why using AR technology for model visualization is so useful. 

For instance, using SiteVision to walk around inside the model on-site may provide a politician with a more informed view of a given infrastructure project, and in turn, enable more informed decision making, Terstena explains. 

The same applies to affected neighbors who may now be able to assess how the planned bridge will impact for instance their view and daylight conditions. Normally, it is almost impossible for them to visualize the new infrastructure based on drawings, he adds. 

And according to Terstena, it doesn't stop there. This type of visualization is also very useful when it comes to making decisions about whether the design matches its real-world surroundings: Let's imagine that we have designed a bridge that some find to be, well, ugly. In this case, with just a few clicks we can upload and visualize another model with SiteVision almost instantaneously, one that may be more accepted by the stakeholders in question. 

Savings for the Owner

Anders Høie, customer responsible for SiteVision in the Nordics, says that during the past year, many engineering companies, contractors as well as owners are really getting their sight set on the possibilities enabled by a tool like SiteVision. 

This can't be a coincidence, Høie continues, as high-quality 3D models are a prerequisite for succeeding with SiteVision. The Nordics is a leading region when it comes to this, and the detailed Nordic 3D models combined with new AR technology from the US and New Zealand, where SiteVision is developed, is an unbeatable combination. 


The new Nerlandsøy Bridge model visualized through Trimble SiteVision. Photo: Rambøll

 This combination enables us to see the entire scope of a project and visualize both what is above and beneath the ground. This way, we can avoid model conflicts in the early phases and thus enable project cost savings, Terstena adds. 

Feedback received by Trimble from the industry makes it clear that this tool has improved the collaboration between civil engineers and contractors. On projects with multiple stakeholders, it may furthermore be a good approach to show a live- stream from the model viewing in the field directly to the office, enabling multiple meeting participants to take part in the site inspection and discuss the model in the real-world context. Høie comments that live streaming is possible through the use of digital meeting platforms such as Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet. This could support a reduction in travel, which in turn saves time, costs, and the environment. 

Images from SiteVision can provide valuable insight into discussions taking place during both in-person and virtual meetings.  Photo: Rambøll

 This way of working is also very convenient as, in these times, participating in virtual meetings from the home office is the standard for many of us. Terstena was actually the one to propose this functionality, and we are glad that this is now a possibility for all SiteVision users, says Høie.  

AR technology is valuable for contractors that spend their days on-site. They don't need to have a comprehensive understanding of BIM to use SiteVision. Viewing the designs on-site in combination with the existing situation using SiteVision is also valuable to the civil engineers, who spend the majority of their time in the office.  We also see that Owners use SiteVision to provide landowners visual insight into how the finished project will impact the community and nearby areas, Høie continues. 

For Terstena, during the past few years, it has become increasingly easier to generate excitement and support around the vision of the project in the earlier project phases, and this is largely attributed to the BIM models. Now, SiteVision is taking it one step further: AR technology enables a greater understanding of depth and shape, and this, years prior to actual construction. I am convinced that visualization through the use of AR is important in the future for infrastructure projects, Terstena closes. 


How Trimble SiteVision works

Trimble SiteVision is a user-friendly outdoor augmented reality system that brings data to life so you can visualize and explore complex information with unrivaled accuracy. Trimble SiteVision is an AR-solution consisting of a mobile application and a GNSS receiver that you connect to your mobile phone. SiteVision provides high-accuracy positioning, enabling you to visualize the model designs on your mobile screen with accurate dimensions.