Experience a building before you build it

Bringing digital to life 4 December 2017 Bo Grave

The pace of digitalisation is transforming our industry but not necessarily in ways you would imagine.

Expert columns
8 min

Written in collaboration with Hussain Parsianfar, Senior Consultant, Knowledge & Innovation.

Ramboll has not been slow to embrace digitalisation. 

BIM (Building Information Modelling), 3D scanning, and VDC (Virtual Design and Construction) and other advanced computer-aided design techniques are already widely used on countless projects. 

But digitalisation is also changing the way we work and the service we offer our clients. 

It is increasing productivity and efficiency, allowing us to streamline our working processes and help save time and costs. This makes it easier to adjust or alter details during the project, or even be more experimental in the design phase. 

We are also able to rethink the services that we provide our clients. For example, BIM not only allows us to visualise a building but also means that we can help the client experience how it will appear in reality – from the interior design to the placement of internal elements. 

Such precision allows us to be much better at learning exactly what clients expect and what we can deliver, thus minimising the potential for misunderstandings and reducing the number of costly alterations. With client feedback, we can continually refine the design in a much more agile and flexible way. 

And it allows us to redesign our services. New business opportunities are arising out of digitalisation, and it is important that we are prepared. 

An example of this could be the use of mobile phone data to improve traffic flow; by learning how people move around a city, we can control transport infrastructure such as traffic lights more effectively. 

An agile and collaborative process

One particular project where we are utilising the latest digital technology is in Norway, where together with Sweco, we are helping to build 75 kilometres of double rail track north of Oslo for Bane NOR, a state-owned company responsible for the Norwegian national railway infrastructure. 

The IC Dovrebanen project involves not just the innovative use of BIM and 3D scanning, but also an extensive agile project management system. Instead of the usual sequential process where a project moves forward a step at a time, this project adapts the so-called scrum method. This is an agile software framework for managing projects made up of a self-organising team that can quickly adapt to any changes that arise and is better placed to respond to any unpredictability. 

Put simply, the scrum method is perfect for reacting to the needs of clients if and when they change their minds during the project. 

Transparency is also a central element of the project, with all data available to all stakeholders – including the client, contractor, architects, engineers and project managers. This improves dialogue, and streamlines the work flow while dividing such a complex project into more manageable pieces – a vital component, as the project involves professionals from over 50 different disciplines.