Are you experiencing VDC or BIM coordination issues between office and site? Do your designers and foreman struggle, as they work with different data sets? Bernd Moeller is Business Director Field Software Solutions at Leica Geosystems in Heerbrugg / Switzerland. He gives insights about an exciting new field app, especially designed to the needs of layout specialists in the building construction industry. The new app had its world premiere at World of Concrete, on Jan 17th 2017 in Las Vegas.
Digitalisation is moving to construction sites. In that context, are building construction companies facing big changes?
Bernd Moeller: Yes. VDC and BIM are far more than just modern terms. We see a massive change in building construction induced by VDC and BIM designed processes. This change offers excellent possibilities for increased efficiency to those construction companies, who manage to adapt their processes to the new standards in time.
Yesterday, Jan 17th, 2017 World of Concrete in Las Vegas opened its doors. What new solution was presented by Leica Geosystems to meet these challenges?
Bernd Moeller: We presented a new solution tailored to cure some pain points of MEP layout engineers and foremen: The new Leica iCON Layout Objects app.
It is bringing Design Models into reality on site. Our beta testers say, “It works really well.” I am sure, layout crews will love it. That’s why we are quite excited.
We developed the new app based on feedback of building construction professionals. It is designed to fit their needs with regards to all the critical details. It will facilitate massive savings in time and money on construction sites.
That sounds exciting. Tell us more about the new app. Do construction companies face special challenges in this context? What were the core pain points the new app is aiming at?
Bernd Moeller: Before developing the app we identified three challenges, which construction companies actually have to cope with:
- First, we recognized widespread coordination issues between design teams in the office and construction teams on site. Still working from different data sets, in most cases they couldn’t decide on common standards, yet.
- Secondly, the Intelligence in the model object information could not be used in the field. That slowed down construction teams as design data often does not contain critical constructible information.
- And thirdly, until now, data enriched design models were a complete overkill for layout crews. These models were far too complex to construct from. We discovered a big demand for tools, which facilitate working with BIM models out on construction sites.
Sounds like “Welcome to the real life.” How did you tackle these challenges?
Bernd Moeller: We had three main goals. The first goal was, to bring design models including their intelligence onto our iCON field equipment – easy to understand and easy to use for layout crews, but still containing the “I” of BIM. We put much effort into the development of a good user interface. One that deserves to be called a graphical user interface.
And the second goal?
Bernd Moeller: Typically design models contain massive amounts of data – often data that is primarily relevant for the VDC teams, but only a subset is relevant to the layout crews so they can determine where and what to construct. Hence for them it is hard to find the structure they need for navigating in the model. It can be really complex. Our second goal was therefore, to simplify the navigation as much as possible – like in a computer game. The new app will enable foremen to execute construction layout tasks straight from design model objects. Watch the video to learn how to layout object corners and edges.
That sounds impressive. What was your third goal?
Bernd Moeller: Surveying departments in construction companies and subcontracted surveyors very often are tasked with layout jobs. They are lacking the specific knowledge of the individual trades which have to construct from the indicated points. Therefore we want to enable the trades in the MEP industry to self-perform layout, based on their typical design data. That makes things ways more simple.
Did you reach your goals?
Bernd Moeller: We definitely think so. The new Layout Objetct app is worldwide the first of its kind. It is ideal for contractors looking for a straightforward solution to utilize objects directly from BIM models. Intuitive, but yet powerful. Intuitive due to the graphical user interface. Powerful as it is fully object-driven, which is unique.
The app enables construction layout straight from design model objects. Simply load IFC data directly from a design software (such as Autodesk Revit), graphically select one or several objects and immediately start laying out, create offsets from objects or add relevant details while being on site.
What are the benefits?
Bernd Moeller: It is a massive simplification. The beauty of using IFC data is complete Object Classes, such as Foundations, Beams, Walls, can be turned on and off as the site progress demands. The layout engineer can simply select visually what he needs to see for his current work-task.
With the IFC Tree View, foremen intuitively pick only those floor level objects that are relevant for construction. Everything which is not needed, like furniture or electrical design, is simply hidden with one tap. (Click here to learn how to import and visualize IFC data)
With the all new Zlider Bar (a slider in the z-axis) foremen visually “cut” the building to make hidden objects visible (watch the first video above). It’s like having a Section Box tool right in the field!
Last but not least, structured work packages, ready for construction layout, are created in seconds – derived from complex multi-story building models. All this is done right on site on the rugged iCON tablet.
How does the new app fit into future Leica Geosystems product roll-outs?
Bernd Moeller: In construction industry, digitising has become a necessity. Now, more and more companies move from just digitising to digitalisation. Leica believes that digitalisation is the key to improving efficiency and lowering costs. Whereas digitising enables companies to automate processes, digitalisation goes a step further. It connects the office with the field.
And this is exactly why Leica Geosystems will come up with a bunch of new software tools, all connecting VDC/BIM designers with professionals on site. These are MEP layout engineers and foremen, the case of the Layout Object app. The new app is a part of the iCON build v3.5 software package, and is only the first of a series of new solutions we will present in the near future.
Where will the new app be demonstrated?
Bernd Moeller: After its world premiere at World of Concrete on Jan 17th 2017 the app will be demonstrated and promoted through our global distribution network. For demos please ask our local Leica Geosystems distribution partner.
Thanks for this interview!
Bernd Moeller: Thank you! It’s always a pleasure.
 VDC – Virtual Design and Construction
 BIM – Building Information Modelling