Laing O’Rourke’s digital push at Hinkley Point C: raising rebar QA

Laing O’Rourke has been leading a research project to drive quality and productivity improvements through the use of digital tools, using the Hinkley Point C nuclear site and its own manufacturing facility in Worksop as demonstrators.

Known as Augmented Reality for Operative Productivity and Continuous Quality Analysis (AROPCQA), the project has been led by Laing O’Rourke, working with partners tech giant Trimble, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and software SMEs Offset and WorkMobile. It got underway in April 2019, backed by funding from Innovate UK.

In this instalment, we look at the third of the project’s five deliverables: the provision of mobile accessible digital ‘work packs’ to operatives.

Read part 1:

With rebar, Laing O’Rourke’s workflow to get models to the field previously involved exporting an IFC 3D file from Tekla software into Simplebim, where meta-data and component coding was added. This was then exported as an IFC into Trimble Connect for model annotations. However, the process of applying model annotations on such a large project as Hinkley leads to some dizzying numbers and a huge problem, as Dr Scott McGovern, Laing O’Rourke’s head of digital engineering explains.

“It takes 1.5 to two days to annotate each drawing; there are an average of 40 drawings per model, five models per building and 50 buildings – the task would take 15,000 to 20,000 person days,” he says.

This is where Trimble Connect came in. The software company created a specification for changes to 3D model views. “This enabled the addition of dimensions, such as rebar start and end coordinates, colour, ID for traceability,” Steven Jackson, technical manager at Trimble Solutions UK, explains.

The scripting means workflows can be automated with significant time savings. McGovern estimates that around half a day is saved on annotating each drawing, meaning a saving of between 10,000 and 15,000 person days.

The next challenge was how to connect QA reports to 3D model data. This brought in Viewpoint and its Field View cloud-based mobile access platform for quality assurance.

Typically, QA inspectors take their tablets out on site all day, gather data in Field View and sync the tablets when they get back to the office. As there is so much data to upload, it is typically 24 hours old by the time it can be viewed.

However, McGovern notes: “There are instances where we’d like to see live data. For example, because of the size of the project, we’ve got some continuous concrete pours that last up to three days – the ability to know where you’re at with that pour is incredibly important.”

Viewpoint’s development work has allowed Laing O’Rourke to visualise live QA data on the model by location, pulling key data such as completion status back to the model, with the added ability to raise forms from the model.

“This will allow us to set up some interesting workflows to manage all the inspections that need to be undertaken,” says McGovern.

Read about the other deliverables:

  • AI-based feature detection for automated QA;

  • Virtual, augmented and mixed reality for QA;

  • Laser scanning and point cloud data processing for as-built verification.

Story for BIM+? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in Analysis