Cardinal Edifice, a subsidiary of the NGE Group since 2016, switched its name to NGE Bâtiment in early 2022. The general contractor, based in France (West, Ile de France and South), is making digital technology and innovation one of its key areas of development. The objective is to meet the challenges of the most complex construction sites and provide an unique offer.
BIM has now been implemented in its processes for six years. NGE Bâtiment has created a division dedicated to its implementation with Benoît Lecrioux, BIM manager, in charge. Since 2015, NGE BATIMENT has participated in and completed some fifteen BIM projects (Building Information Modeling), putting collaboration at the heart of project management. He explains their BIM journey.
On the road to BIM
“On one project, I encountered an issue where I had to draw manually in perspective to make the solution explicit. However, if I had to make any changes, then I would have to start over. This is when I became interested in Revit, and more specifically its potential for methodological use. I could see the benefit that 3D could bring in terms of understanding and also communication with the construction site. It was not yet a question of collaboration, but it was still BIM level 1,” explains Benoît.
After several years of thinking about the use of concrete, Benoit Lecrioux wanted to expand his knowledge in other areas. “So, I had the opportunity to deploy BIM at NGE Bâtiment, starting from a blank sheet of paper,” says Benoit.
What are the current applications of BIM at NGE Bâtiment?
NGE BATIMENT has started to implement BIM internally, after having carried out audits with the various departments involved. With this in mind, certain work processes have been updated, and the teams have been able to configure the software according to their needs (Revit in particular).
Today, the use of BIM and the digital model has become commonplace in several departments:
- The structural design office produces all the formwork plans on Revit, and builds bridges with the calculation software;
- The price study department models models in the tender phase to extract the quantities and serve as a basis for their technical briefs;
- The methods department uses the digital models to produce 3D documents (site installation, phasing, safety plans, etc.);
- The technical synthesis of our projects is based on a BIM level 2 process;
- The BIM department ensures the Building Information Modeling Management (BIM) of projects from the design phase to delivery.
BIM tools at NGE Bâtiment
“For modeling, the teams use Revit, in particular for its ability to adapt to our many uses. With a significant amount of parameterization time, Revit offers the possibility of creating parametric objects that are certainly complex, but which save time in use. The ability to automate tasks via Dynamo is also a real advantage,” explains Benoît.
For the synthesis, the NGE Bâtiment teams use Solibri. This software allows them to work directly with IFCs (Industry Foundation Classes). “Solibri has a powerful database of detection rules, which enables us to communicate using the BCF format,” Benoît explains.
“For the documentary follow-up of our projects, the sharing of digital models and the management of synthesis issues, we use the Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync), the Common Data Environment (CDE). We used this platform for the first time in 2018, on a rehabilitation project.” says Benoit.
“The use of BIM involves several software programs. These then depend on the use cases, and the most important thing is that each stakeholder uses the one that will be the most appropriate for his discipline to focus on his business expertise. In this perspective, it is imperative that these softwares are certified for exchanges in IFC format, in order to facilitate collaboration and data exchange” concludes Benoît.
The choice of a cloud solution
NGE Bâtiment used BIM for the first time during the Rennes University Hospital project. “We were already using a shared space on a cloud; however, access to the latest models was dependent on my weekly compilation and the only computer installed in the life base that had the necessary software. This didn’t stop the site teams from coming to consult it, but I felt like I was on the critical path of accessing information when I shouldn’t have been.” explains Benoît.
After having technically and financially compared several solutions, NGE Bâtiment opted for Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync). “We chose this CDE for its ease of use, its issue management in BCF format, as well as its model viewer via the cloud, which requires no installation. For me, these aspects are essential to democratize BIM beyond architects and design offices,” explains Benoît Lecrioux. “In addition, its unlimited user model allows access to documents and models to all stakeholders,”.
BIM is a collaborative process that encompasses all 2D and 3D workflows; the platform must therefore be unique for the project and be able to manage all documentation. “The notion of CDE (Common Data Environment) sums it up very well,” says Benoît.
The BCF format
Most of the projects carried out by NGE Bâtiment are public functional works including many networks (electricity, ventilation, hot water, etc.). In this case, the summary studies are crucial for the smooth running of the work. “The weekly project review cycle enables us to address about 40 topics at each meeting. However, some topics concern modeling and do not need to be addressed in plenary sessions,” explains Benoît. However, these topics need to be resolved, and must be fed with information and comments, in order to move forward with the project. The use of BCFs (BIM Collaboration Format) in Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) enables to ensure this follow-up and traceability. “The comments and solutions are entered directly during the meetings and are thus available immediately. This saves time for us in a sustained rhythm of synthesis” continues Benoît Lecrioux. In addition, the participants save time and can target the actions on which they must act and the precise location of the problem to be resolved. “We don’t save time on the overall synthesis time, but this efficiency allows us to be more precise and exhaustive, so as to obtain more qualitative studies, and thus have fewer hasty adaptations later on site.” specifies Benoît.
Illustrations of pre-synthesis topics on the School Group of La Valette du Var (83)
The integration of BCFs in 3D and 2D workflows
“We got used to the use of BCF very quickly. The appropriation of this tool is done at different speeds by the participants. In this perspective, the support of the BIM team is essential for the members to adopt the BCF.
“I also realized that the BCF format (BIM Collaboration Format), as it is proposed in Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync), contains the necessary information (date, responsible, status) and allows to make the link between the document and the approval of the project manager. Thus, versioning allows us to work with an up-to-date document and to check its validation status,” explains Benoît.
The NGE Bâtiment teams have created a dashboard based on this BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) data to allow easy reading of the progress of the studies and to target the points to be prioritized. “Initially, we used Excel exports. We have now automated this task through the APIs made available by Catenda,” says Benoît Lecrioux.
Illustration of the Power BI dashboard using BCF data
The implementation of Catenda Hub
The Futuroscope Arena project is a flagship project for NGE Bâtiment due to a strong adoption of BIM and Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync). The company’s objective was initially to meet the needs of the site and the problems of document management. “The management of the mass of information is a real subject on a project. It is important that it circulates in a fluid manner and that it does not depend on a method of classification and distribution linked to individuals, but rather on a process that is reproducible from one project to another,” explains Benoît.
“The adoption of the platform has not gotten any easier since the addition of visa management, but it has extended its use to non-BIM projects.” adds Benoit.
During a client follow-up with NGE Bâtiment, Benoit presented us with his method of tracking visas using the topics in Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync). We found the idea very interesting because it was innovative and offered new perspectives (data management and durability, integration of a classic 2D management within a BIM process, etc.). This feedback was shared with the Product team who adapted it a few weeks later by allowing annotations made on a document to be recorded in a subject; and later in the development of validation circuits. At Catenda we are always listening to our customers; our motto “Grow with us” applies both ways: in the continuous improvement of our services based on customer feedback and in the wider use of our tools.
Bianca Giorsetti, Director France at Catenda.
Benoit Lecrioux, BIM Manager at NGE Bâtiment.