Ramboll brings engineering into the digital 21st century

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Engineering

Bluebeam’s Revu and Studio software have helped Ramboll to embrace digitisation on some of London’s most innovative projects

“We cannot continue to engineer as we have done for the past 100 or 200 years,” says Alex Lawrence, Head of Building Structures at Ramboll in the UK. “Technology is advancing.”

The construction industry famously lags far behind other main industries in terms of technology adoption and increases in productivity. Ramboll, the Danish engineering consulting firm with offices around the world, sees digitalisation as key to overcoming historic shortcomings industry-wide.

“We have much more data to play with, and it allows us to design, engineer and construct in a different way, in ways that we have not thought of yet,” Lawrence adds.

Ramboll’s recent redevelopment of the Kings Cross neighbourhood in London and a residential complex in North London exemplify the materialisation of these advances.

For both projects, project engineers relied heavily on the digital tools provided by Bluebeam’s software solutions Bluebeam® Revu® and Bluebeam Studio, and Lawrence believes these tools and other digital advances will be invaluable to successfully navigating the next 100 years of engineering challenges.

Coordinating faster, solving problems quicker

Andrew Mather, Principal Structural Engineer at Ramboll in the UK, sees Revu and Studio as critical to the level of collaboration that has become ubiquitous for projects involving engineers, builders and owners from around the world.

“Using digital design tools means that we can coordinate much faster in a much more accurate way and then achieve much higher levels of productivity,” he explains.

Among Ramboll’s impressive projects is Dalston Works, a 10-storey, 121-unit apartment complex that will be the world’s largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) project ever built. Necessitated by poor soil conditions and continued underground development, the CLT-built apartment will be significantly lighter than it would have had it been designed with concrete – and will save 2,400 metric tons of carbon compared to a concrete frame.

However, the building came with specific challenges, as Mather explains: “The cross-laminated timber panels were fabricated in Austria weeks before they were actually installed on-site. All the openings, all the doors, all the windows needed to be accurate on everyone’s drawings and in the fabrication model. What Revu enabled us to do was to overlay information from different sources and ensure that there were no errors. In coordination with other 3D models, we were then able to ensure that the design team was fully aligned before it went into fabrication.”

Without digital tools, that kind of close coordination would have taken considerably longer and would have required extensive use of paper drawings, as well as face-to-face meetings. Both would have added to the build time, possibly caused scheduling delays and increased the possibility for error. Instead, Revu allowed all changes to be made digitally and tracked, so each party knew exactly who had made a change, and when.

At Kings Cross, a redevelopment zone that saw Ramboll working on 15 different sites, coordination and planning ahead were absolutely critical. Revu allowed all parties involved to anticipate the challenges that lay ahead, in a familiar file format – PDF – that everyone could understand.

“We have had huge benefit from 3D modelling and coordinating in a 3D environment. Revu has been an accessible platform for everybody to understand that coordination and anticipate challenges that could happen on-site,” says Ruth Johnson, a Principal Structural Engineer who worked on the project.

Efficiency and risk mitigation

“The construction industry can be a dangerous place,” says Johnson. “Revu, as a platform, was key for communicating risk. A key part of on-site health and safety management is making sure everybody understands any residual risk involved. Revu and its powers to very quickly edit information you are given meant I could mark-up and highlight risks very, very clearly.”

That functionality allowed the people on-site to have the marked-up document and quickly assess the situation before undertaking anything. And because Revu can be accessed in the field, it also allowed the people on-site to input their own data, such as where risk still existed but had been ignored or overlooked, and transmit that information back to the office.

Ramboll: Ready for the third industrial revolution

Facilitating coordination between parties, harnessing the power of data and ease of use are all factors that have inspired Ramboll to rely so heavily on Revu and Studio.

“It’s very simple, it is very easy to use, it has a simple user interface, and it can be used by everyone in the construction chain, from consultants all the way through to subcontractors on-site,” says Lawrence.

Digital design is the mindset of the future. If Kings Cross and Dalston Works are any indication, Ramboll is at the forefront of an exciting, and digital, new era in construction.

Learn more about Bluebeam Revu at  www.bluebeam.co.uk.

Please note: this is a commercial profile

Bluebeam Software Inc

www.bluebeam.co.uk

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