Construction site management in action: scheduling, layout planning and status sharing
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
On a visit to new Trimble Finland offices’ construction site in Espoo, we heard from main contractor NCC’s VDC team and steel fabricator Ruukki’s site manager about construction scheduling, site layout planning and project status sharing by using digital software tools and applications.
Trimble’s new Finland offices will be part of the new Oasis of Professionals campus to be owned by Finnish insurance company Varma and built by Nordic construction group NCC in the Hatsinanpuisto district of Espoo. The first A and B phases with the parking facilities of the large complex are now under construction including elaborate construction and task scheduling, site layout planning and weekly status sharing among the many project parties.
NCC’s site engineer Tuomo Tossavainen is using Vico Schedule Planner, a location-based scheduling program for construction projects, to improve project planning and schedule assemblies and other tasks.
“There are many ways we can utilize Schedule Planner in site management,” says Eero-Pekka Piipponen, NCC VCD team’s “digital engineer” stationed on site to help the staff utilize new digital ways of working. “There are many ways to build a schedule. We first calculated the sections of the building, then the times it will take to build them. One floor takes approximately two weeks to build, depending on the contractors’ resources of course. We use dedicated colors in the program to help perceive different floors, sections and phases.”
In addition, the site uses the Trimble SketchUp modeling software and its ready-to-use 3D objects of cranes, silos and excavators, to create the site layout plan.
Powerful software tools for construction project management
The construction schedule is updated daily and communicated more extensively in weekly meetings with the contractors to coordinate plumbing and electricity installations, for example. Each contractor then creates their own more precise task schedule. At this point Vico Schedule Planner is used as a stand-alone product, but the idea is to test how to utilize it with other Trimble software, including Tekla Structures.
“SketchUp helps locate staff and equipment on site per buildings, sections, and floors,” Piipponen says. “We use the SketchUp Pro version, which shows cranes and crane heights and the site layout plan to scale. It is a powerful tool to use without the need to do measurements separately. SketchUp and Schedule Planner are project management tools for us to maintain a general idea of what is going on."
“In Trimble Connect, the project parties can view the combination model, communicate around and check for clashes. We use it on site. In addition, the link between Trimble Connect and Tekla Structures that we use in this project enables the import of MEP design, for example, to use as reference in Tekla Structures."
Steel provider Ruukki handles on-site assembly of both steel structures and precast units
For this project, the Finnish steel structure supplier Ruukki is providing on-site assembly of both steel structures and precast units. Site Manager Andres Ambros’s task is to manage and organize the installation team on site.
“3D BIM is quite an important tool for us,” he says. “We start using models already in the quoting phase if there is any sort of architectural model available to compose our offer. Normally, if we have design included in the project, modeling in Tekla starts at an early stage and continues throughout the project. I use Trimble Connect for the first time in this project, although it has been used by Ruukki in other projects before. In practice, I follow the installation status of the assembly units in parallel between Tekla Structures and Trimble Connect.”
“All of our production status data is taken via SAP into Tekla where the design status is directly visible. At the moment synchronizing does not yet work both ways, but we will make it work in a few weeks. We use the Tekla Model Organizer tool a lot. It’s the perfect tool for dividing the building into sections and sub-blocks for scheduling production. The value of organizing the model in Tekla is that we can create smaller groups of the frame and divide it according to our needs.”
A windy day can impact assembly planning and performance
Installations on site in Espoo employ some twenty persons under Ruukki’s supervision. They install 40 to 50 hollow-core slabs and 15 to 20 steel beams per day depending on the project. Steel installations for this phase of the project are estimated to be completed in June.
“We plan deliveries four weeks in advance, including daily truck arrivals, and usually there are no surprises,” Ambros says. “The biggest challenge is the weather. A very windy day can impact our planning and performance. We use standardized beams and distances to make it easier to assemble the structures on site. The status updates to share among the project team include how many units have been installed per day or week to discuss weekly progress with the main contractor. This way it is easier to communicate potential delays across the different disciplines.”
The assembly staff does not yet utilize modeled building information in their mobile devices on site, but in Ambros’s view, this is to happen soon:
“Digital models via phones and tablets are the future of construction. They will considerably make our work easier and the process quicker. I am looking forward to using digital devices more efficiently. There is plenty of design data available, and now the final hurdle to pass is to make it transfer both ways between the applications.”