Complex construction projects come with complex data challenges. Any project can involve dozens of technologies –– ranging from modeling systems to project management to robotics –– that often aren’t designed to communicate with one another. Manual data sharing, and the errors and productivity losses that come with it, is common. To improve construction’s productivity shortcomings, closing these data gaps is key, especially as the industry undergoes major disruption.
To collect, consolidate, and share data from disparate systems, project stakeholders need a common data environment (CDE). A CDE is a cloud-based tool that hosts all information relevant to a project. A central repository for BIM workflow data, as well as other project information, including contracts, schedules, and more, a CDE is a vital tool for achieving better outcomes from BIM. Using a CDE makes critical project information more accessible to all of the parties involved in a project, resulting in better collaboration and reduced waste and rework. It also sets the foundation for creating digital as-builts and digital twins, which are digital and real-time representations of physical structures. By serving as the single source of truth about a project, a CDE helps project teams:
- Minimize rework and RFIs
- Optimize use of materials and equipment
- Meet demands for digital project delivery
- Reduce overall project risk
- Increase efficiency across the project lifecycle, from feasibility to operation
Using Common Data Environments to Reduce Risk, Increase Productivity, and Improve Data Analysis
To reap the benefits of a CDE, it must be carefully selected and implemented. Here’s how two leading AEC firms are maximizing their CDE investment.
How a Leading Prefabricator is Automating Workflows with a Common Data Environment
Using a CDE that supports application programming interfaces (APIs) allows you to create connections with a wide variety of systems, such as ERPs and document management tools. That connectivity can then be used to automate workflows between systems and teams. For example, Betset Group, one of Finland's largest prefabricators, used Trimble Connect to create an integration between their modeling tool, Tekla Structures, and their ERP. Using Trimble Connect as a CDE, commercial building project teams can view and share data-rich models, assign and review tasks, monitor activity, and automate versioning, and more.
By using Trimble Connect’s Status Sharing Tool and APIs, Betset’s Tekla Structures models are pushed to CDE, and production statuses from the ERP are automatically updated to the model. The integration allows them to automatically feed cast unit information and plans directly to the CDE, enabling designers to review revisions in real time, see the status of production, and make comments or reject the revision, all within Trimble Connect. Read more >>
How a CDE is Helping this General Contractor Achieve Level 3 BIM on Infrastructure Projects
As one of Hungary’s largest general contractors, Duna Aszfalt Zrt relies on a wide variety of technologies to build roads, bridges, and environmental projects. To improve connectivity between these tools and meet its goal to reach Level 3 BIM, the firm implemented Trimble Quadri. Because it is ideally suited for civil construction projects, Quadri serves as a CDE and much more by enabling the bidirectional flow of data from Duna Asfalt’s systems and the model. The model is automatically updated with the most current data throughout the project, and stakeholders have instant access to a fully visualized 3D model representing the real project data.
Duna Aszfalt is also using Quadri along with Novapoint to produce single comprehensive 3D models built with tools from multiple vendors. With these comprehensive models, the team has reduced the time it takes to produce machine control data by 75%. This also makes it easier to identify causes of productivity losses so they can make changes to address them. Read more >>
“We have improved the analysis of technical challenges in the field, so we address them early [before] they cause any problems at the construction phase. And that is valuable because we avoid stops in production.”
––Karolina Tiszavölgyi, Head of Surveying, and
Ervin Bakos, Head of the Design and Modeling at Duna Aszfalt
A Common Data Environment Sets the Foundation for Connected Construction
Using a CDE to provide real-time access to up-to-date project information is the first step to realizing Connected Construction, a data-centric and technology-enabled approach to construction that allows projects to be delivered with greater control and predictability. A feature-rich solution like Trimble Quadri or Trimble Connect provides the capabilities of a CDE and more, so construction teams can:
- Break down data silos and communication barriers
- Improve workflow planning
- Identify design issues earlier
- Adhere to budget and schedule requirements
- Reduce miscommunication, waste, and rework
To learn more about the savings and efficiencies you can gain from Connected Construction, read The AEC Professional’s Essential Guide to Connected Construction.