Product modelling improves efficiency for the entire construction process

    Situation in the beginning

    When the Pro IT project was launched in 2002, the Finnish construction industryís processes were highly fragmented. Design input data were frequently inadequate, and there was no common language among the various participants. It was difficult to check plans, and errors piled up at the worksite, causing unexpected costs and timetable problems. The main investment decisions were made purely on the basis of construction costs. All these eroded the development of construction productivity.

    Pilot projects and achieved benefits

    Product modelling was seen as one solution to the problems. Indeed, it has been seen on Pro IT pilot projects that it has improved the situation markedly. The experience from four Pro IT pilot projects in 2005 has been collected in a report, which finds the chief advantages of modelling to include the integration of plans and reduction of errors with clash detection analysis, faster and more accurate quantity surveying and cost estimating, the clarity of three-dimensional plans, and extracting marketing materials and drawings direct from the model. New ways of using modelling have also been found in precast panel design and indoor condition simulations.

    Product modelling guidelines

    In the Pro IT project, the goal was to create a common practice for modelling for everyone and to ensure that product models could be used for design, quantity surveying and cost estimating, and other applications. For these purposes, specific product modelling guidelines were created for both architectural and structural design.

    Data exchange

    Another of the key aims of the Pro IT project from the very start was to make data exchange more fluent. The tool chosen for this was the IFC standard, with which all the product models of the various designers could be linked together. During the project, there even was an attempt to introduce information management through product model servers, but it was not yet possible to go so far. However, the feedback from the latest product model projects and news from other countries indicate that there has recently been significant progress in applying the standard.

    Product structure libraries

    Product model design also needs product structures with a standardised structure, presentation and nomenclature. With product libraries assembled from product structures of this kind, structures and parts of them can be recognised and data used more conveniently for quantity surveying and cost estimating. However, there is still much work to be done on product libraries. In particular, there are still not enough of companiesí own libraries for individual products such as doors, windows and fittings. Also among the main requirements for development are the usability of design software and improvements in modelling complex details and joint components. Product model servers are also practically entirely lacking.

    Current situation

    The Pro IT project has been brought to a conclusion at the end of 2005, but its work continues through the Building Information Foundationís Pro IT committee as well as in the companies which have adopted modelling.


January 18, 2006   Markku Kiviniemi