Case study: VolkerWessels unlocks data sharing with Trimble collaboration

Global contractor VolkerWessels has found a way to share high-quality, timely project information among key stakeholders. And by creating a common data environment, it has unlocked the real value of building information and workflows based on constructible data.

Dutch-based VolkerWessels, which has operations in the UK, North America and Germany as well as its domestic market, has transformed the way it manages projects. This follows a study conducted jointly with Trimble, the Californian technology company which specialises in integrated sensors, real-time applications and data analytics software. 

Like most large construction companies, VolkerWessels was finding it increasingly challenging to share high-quality, timely project information efficiently among key stakeholders. The volume of data scattered across the company and their projects often slowed productivity and decision-making.

VolkerWessels had already embraced BIM technology by setting up its own in-house digital company, DigiBase. But it saw an opportunity to work with Trimble to adopt BIM more fully and devise strategies to help better connect processes and data across the organisation.

In particular, the company was looking to optimise its project management and data visualisation capabilities. It wanted to move beyond conventional tools that simply track information like project designs, schedules, materials and labour, but don’t offer an efficient way to interact with the data.

As René de Groot, director at DigiBase, explains: “We quickly saw that a common data environment for all projects would help VolkerWessels transform the way we collaborate and give us the ability to more fully embrace scalable and data-driven construction.”

We quickly saw that a common data environment for all projects would help VolkerWessels transform the way we collaborate and give us the ability to more fully embrace scalable and data-driven construction.– René de Groot, DigiBase

In 2018, VolkerWessels formed a strategic relationship with Trimble to standardise the company’s projects on a key set of Trimble construction technologies, including Trimble Connect, Trimble ProjectSight, Trimble Vico Office, and others.

Trimble Connect was selected as the organisation’s central collaboration platform to deliver greater coordination and allow all team members to easily share, comment on, and manage the latest construction project documents, photos, drawings, and 3D models across all phases of a project.

ProjectSight was implemented to streamline communications, assignments and questions between the office and teams in the field. ProjectSight provides a real-time communication system to support ongoing traceability and accountability of activity on the company’s projects and is also a platform for communication between the field and office.

ProjectSight also provides VolkerWessels with a single source for managing and accessing project documents and drawings. Comments can be easily added to areas within the building models to eliminate any confusion about the physical location associated with RFIs, submittals and punch list items.

The team also deployed Trimble Vico Office to leverage with BIM in new ways. In addition to visualisation capabilities, Vico Office extends the basic 3D model with constructibility analysis and coordination, 4D location-based scheduling, production control with flowline principles, and cost estimating (5D BIM).

Structured information from these models is used in the organisation’s BIM system to develop budgets, create accurate estimates based on construction quantities and time schedules, and to monitor costs based on design changes.

With these tools now fully implemented, VolkerWessels is streamlining the sharing of construction models, data and project information across the organisation. It has more than 600 projects loaded into Trimble Connect with more than 6,000 individual users interacting with information and data-rich models.

Trimble Connect’s accessibility via the web, desktop, and mobile devices enables users to share, view, and access construction project data anywhere and at any time. This includes real-time information access for project owners or developers, suppliers and subcontractors, structural engineers, architects, general contractors and MEP engineers. Users can align models, complete 3D markups, export reports, make comments on to-do lists, perform clash detection and much more.

ProjectSight facilitates collaboration for VolkerWessels by ensuring that everyone has access to the most up-to-date information without having to search through emails, texts or other document sharing applications. 

Each project now starts with the collection of data from all available sources, such as survey data, scan data, and existing drawings and models. The company then uses various modelling tools to create structured, rich information models, and with Trimble Connect, it has the ability to share and visually collaborate with clients.

Project managers can also develop and share more detailed work packages with subcontractors for more accurate and effective pricing. Final estimates are then transferred as the initial budget into ProjectSight. From there, field layout data is shared seamlessly with all subcontractors and specialty contractors from the field to the office and back again.

“Visualisation of construction data gives our information much greater context, from the field to the office,” said de Groot. “When we can share more, we learn more and transform faster.”

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