Models are not only the ideal way to share information-rich three-dimensional data across the construction continuum, but also to be able to report on the status of a project. What may be less well-known is that 3D data is perfect to show all stakeholders what is hidden in the ground. Yet in infrastructure projects, it is still rare for geotechnical engineering information to be presented in a model format. Robabeh Hosseini is a geotechnical engineer at civil engineering firm AECOM Nordic. AECOM is one of the world's largest technical consulting companies with around 50,000 employees worldwide. From its office in Stockholm, AECOM manages infrastructure projects in general, but with a specialization in the area of road and rail transportation. In her job, Robabeh uses Trimble’s Novapoint Geosuite for interpreting and reporting the results from ground surveys performed by field teams in rich, ‘live’ models. Trimble Quadri is also used as a common data environment for sharing this model information between geotechnical, design and engineering teams working on the same projects.
“Novapoint Geosuite is the most commonly used program for geotechnics in the Nordics and it is easy to learn and get started with it,” Robabeh explained. Despite never having had any formal training, she has become very proficient with the program in a short amount of time. “When it comes to providing the team members on a project with correct and easy-to-understand information about the geotechnical aspects, I believe that we as geotechnicians are the ones who have the ability to create all the rock models and soil layer models,” she points out.
As a trained geotechnical engineer, Robabeh is in the ideal position to interpret information, “it is essential that as geotechnicians, we do not simply hand over a report and documentation to the designers in the form of borehole data. Today, different trades within civil construction work with models in different ways, so we also have to create models of the geotechnics, enabling the designers to work with much more information-rich data.”
Common data environment
The geotechnicians at AECOM create geotechnical models in various CAD formats, which are then used by the different technical trades as a basis. A coordination model is put together by a model coordinator and is included to help with the joint review and planning process. As the models are hosted on the Trimble Quadri common data environment, the coordination model is a live representation of the project in real-time. Thanks to the direct integration with Novapoint Geosuite, the geotechnicians create and share their own models directly in Quadri. Then, the designers connect their respective design tools directly to the Quadri model and take the underlying data directly from there.
As Quadri is an open platform, it works together with most design tools available such as Revit, Civil3D, Novapoint, Tekla, Bentley OpenRoads/Rail and Grasshopper. The key to connecting this array of design solutions lies in the Quadri Connectors - plugins that handle direct communication between the Quadri database and the planning tool - without complicated exports and imports of different file formats.
“Quadri is a solution that really improves our work,” says Robabeh. “Anything that can help us create even better information for our project colleagues, regardless of whether they work with roads, railways or construction, is valuable. With the teams being spread across the world, the fact that Quadri is a shared server certainly improves processes.”
One of Robabeh’s projects is the Norrbotniabanan project, a large railway project in Sweden, where AECOM is responsible for managing among other things, groundwater and environmental issues. “I like the mix of larger and smaller projects,” she explains. “As it places different kinds of demands on you as a person. In a large project like the Swedish Norrbothniabanan railway project, there is a real need to be very communicative to share information throughout the organization.”
Robabeh received her civil engineering training from KTH’s School of Engineering Sciences in Sweden. After graduating, she worked as a consultant at WSP and Ramböll, as well as on the contractor side at Skanska. However, she never had any formal training in Trimble Novapoint or Quadri, and learned the skills of working with the technology on the job. She therefore relies on the support from Trimble's Novapoint Geosuite team. “It is really helpful that the Trimble support team is very knowledgeable, as they are geotechnicians themselves, so they can truly relate and provide help from a user perspective.”