BIMprove harnesses the power of cutting-edge Digital Twin Technology to lead construction sites into the Industry 4.0 revolution.
Catenda is a partner of the EU Horizon 2020 project BIMprove. Started in September 2020, BIMprove is an initiative funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement N° 958450. The main goals of the project is to increase safety and efficiency at the construction site.
To achieve this, a set of exciting technologies are used together in a new and innovative way. Key examples are Digital Twins, open BIM, laser scanning, photogrammetry, point clouds, IoT sensors, localization technologies, AR, VR, and machine learning. This almost reads like a word cloud of cool technologies. But, within the project, they work very well together and give us tools to achieve our ambitions goals.
The key role of Catenda is to develop the “layered services”. Open BIM (Industry Foundation Classes and BIM Collaboration Format) will be the central technologies for making all the parts work together. The Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) interactive 2D and 3D viewers, model server and BCF (BIM Collaboration Format) server will be used together with the other technologies.
The project has very ambitious objectives, including automating progress and quality reporting, increasing scheduling forecast precision by 20%, and reducing construction costs by 20%. How will this be possible? This discussion will include several parts. The current article highlights open BIM implications and construction site schedules.
Open BIM implications
These days, before physical production starts on the construction site, a digital model is created showing the planned final shape of the building and the main systems. These digital models are more and more often BIM models (replacing 2D tools like AutoCAD). We assume that the construction project actively uses open BIM, and more specifically Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) throughout the collaboration process. At the time when construction physically starts, it implies a site model, an architecture model, a structural model, and several models from the other domains. It is not unusual that larger construction projects have 25 or more domain models. Ideally all the design would be completed before physical construction starts. In practice, this is almost never 100% the case.
Sometimes requirements such as short deadlines make it beneficial to start construction before all designs are ready because it makes sense from an economic point of view. Other reasons could be either that errors are discovered in a domain model or how domain models work together. In addition, project external factors can change. The client can change his/her mind, regulations can change, unexpected conditions might be discovered on the ground, or some building product might not be available. In practice, there are always some changes in the design models during constructions, and the system provided by BIMprove will help with dealing with these situations.
The architects, engineers and other experts design the BIM models in their own CAD (Computer Assisted Design) tools. They are three different types of softwares: 1) the very well-known ones, used for the biggest disciplines, 2) not well known tools, used in a few countries, and 3) new softwares. A good thing for BIMprove workflows is that the quality of the IFC export of the most used CAD tools has become much better the last few years. It is expected that this will further be improved with stricter certification processes, thanks to buildingSMART International work (voluntary, but gives the CAD software a certificate that is important to some customers).
BIMprove does of course not have an ambition of creating CAD tools. But the existing tools are extremely important as they are their export are (together with construction schedules) our main input. The different domain models will be imported in IFC format into the model server (Catenda Hub – previously Bimsync). After this the models are available via Application Programming Interface (API) ( for data queries and webGL visualization.
See article: How do APIs support innovation on an Open CDE?
Construction site schedules
Another important input to the system is the construction site schedules. In a single project, the schedules exist at different levels and have different scopes and time horizons. There will typically be one official one at a high level that might not change, and several more detailed ones that will be updated based on the dynamic development of the construction project.
For BIMprove purposes, the information that is most needed is about the planned construction activity at a single day level, ideally related to specific parts of the building that is being worked on. Based on this, we can plan the drones and robots scanning and automatic monitoring with regards to safety, correctness and progress.
The construction site schedules can exist in several different formats. IFC supports 4D information, and Synchro can export IFC files including 4D information. Ideally, this would be how we would get the schedule information in all construction projects, since then it would be in an open format that we also use for other BIM purposes. The 4D tasks in IFC can also contain information about which building elements they are related to. However, 4D IFC is not available in every projects. Additionally when this format is used, it is often only for the highest levels of planning and visualization of the construction project.. We have the ambition of being able to import schedules both 4D IFC and Microsoft Project (.mpp) formats in the BIMprove system.
The BIMprove team
The team behind BIMprove consists of 12 European partners. They are from Norway, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, and Greece. Together they cover all key areas of the construction value chain.
The current status of BIMprove is that we are about to do our first lab test (September 2021), and based on the results from that we will adjust the development plan.
Dag Fjeld Edvardsen, Co-founder at Catenda.