Empowering BIM to Keep Critical Railway Infrastructure Operational in the Netherlands

Movares Europe is an engineering consultancy company and part of the Movares Group. Employing over 1,000 highly qualified engineering professionals, Movares is one of the leading Dutch consulting engineers, providing consultancy and engineering services to public transport companies, local authorities and other clients. In recent years the team have expanded from traditional railway engineering services to generating solutions for capacity, safety and integration problems. This growth means Movares have expanded their client base to a wider sector, providing advice and innovative designs for projects in all fields of transport.

Ron Rijkers, Design Manager for Movares in their Building department supports the BIM strategy and use for a number of building projects in the rail industry such as train stations and larger logistical projects.  Over the last few years, the company has seen stronger growth with more and more projects being added to their portfolio as they expanded their marketplace from rail infrastructure engineering to other aspects of the rail industry. 

Difficulty accessing project data leading to standardisation needs

Nevertheless, this expansion created some issues when it came to managing their day-to-day processes on projects. Ron says: “With our company growth it soon became clear that there was no standardised approach to the way in which we implemented and used digital solutions on our projects. We have a number of different departments here at Movares and many of them were working in entirely different ways.”

As a key company managing the railway in the Netherlands, the company's growth meant resources soon became stretched on projects. The team knew they needed to be able to do more without expanding their team substantially, as skill sets and the talent needed isn’t as readily available as the industry demands it to be. This reality, coupled with ambitious plans for gearing up the railway network in the Netherlands for more travellers by 2050, meant more efficient ways of working needed to be identified.

For Ron, managing project data and ensuring teams had access to the most up-to-date and accurate information soon became challenging. The team started using Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM 360 platform which created a single source of truth for project data. Initially, this was used only in the Building department and created timesaving gains for the team through reduced miscommunication and time wasted searching for documents. However, due to local government legislation regarding data management and cyber security,  Movares needed to look at an Autodesk solution that hosted data locally.  When Autodesk Construction Cloud’s unified platform Autodesk Build was announced and released in early 2021, the team knew a transition to this was necessary.

“When we used BIM 360, we didn’t apply a lot of governance,” reflects Ron. “Our usage grew organically so transitioning to Autodesk Build gave us the opportunity to shape our ways of working a little better,” says Ron.  Movares now use the ISO 19650 compliance features in Autodesk Build which supports them to comply to this international standard for managing information over the whole life cycle of a built asset using building information modelling (BIM).  

“Within Autodesk Build, we use the ISO 19650 features that force us to standardise our project data. The naming conventions are particularly useful for our team as well as the holding area which is where any documents that don’t comply are held for review,” affirms Ron.  Autodesk Build workflows that comply with ISO 19650 offers Movares a robust set of tools to define a structured and standardised process for publishing, sharing and storing project information.

“Before we started with Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform, we struggled to find working space on our local servers for our 3D modelling due to the size, scale and complexity of the files,” says Ron. “But now, using Autodesk Construction Cloud means our teams can access data and models from anywhere at any time, and this has transformed the way we work as an industry in the Netherlands.”

When the global Covid-19 pandemic forced countries to execute work from home orders, the Autodesk Construction Cloud technology supported Movares to stay operational. “Our user licences tripled in a two-month period as our teams needed to be able to work remotely to keep our critical railway projects operational,” says Ron. “Without access to these cloud solutions, we would have struggled to maintain momentum and make progress on our projects.”

Remote training plans for the ‘new normal’

As most of Movares’ team were working remotely whilst onboarding with Autodesk Construction Cloud, it was imperative the technology was easy to navigate. Project team members were encouraged to get familiar using one particular digital workflow or process in depth at a time and then move on to the next process from there. “Rolling out the technology in this way helped to reduce disruption to our current projects and enabled us to learn from the cloud environment and from each other in a remote setting,” says Ron. “We applied it on just one project to start and learnt some valuable insights.”

The team were able to identify that permissions and project templates were an area that would need to be improved on when it came to using the technology on subsequent projects. They also decided it would be beneficial to integrate other data sources like GIS too. This meant that the team could gather greater insights from their project dashboards and make more informed decisions on their project.

Continually learning and evolving

The team at Movares now use Autodesk Build for all new building projects. Project data is structured in a standardised way which means any new team members joining an ongoing construction project in the building department know exactly where to go in their common data environment for the relevant information to get up to speed. Ron has also been able to support the teams develop their understanding more of how to use the permission sharing features when collaborating with external partners. This removes the risk around data regulations and ensures the internal project team at Movares can feel confident that the right people have access to the right information at the right time.

“If I were to choose just one feature that is the most beneficial it would have to be the fact that Autodesk Build is a single source of truth,” says Ron. All team members have access to the same information at the same time from any device. This means time is not lost waiting for documents to be shared, on emails regarding project issues and that a layer of transparency is added to all projects. Ron states: “We couldn’t do 3D modelling without using the Autodesk Construction Cloud. In the market, there are not many solutions that have the end-to-end capabilities that the Autodesk Construction Cloud have. We’d be forced to work in 2D and we wouldn’t be able to run our operations this way.”

Achieving the Movares vision

Looking to the future, Movares plan to use more and more of the features and functionality that Autodesk Build offers including automating more processes. As a company they are committed to offering high quality advice to deliver the best outcome for their customers and in turn, they aim to deliver these outcomes to the highest quality standards using digital tools.

 “The time our team has saved using the solutions already has been huge,” says Ron. “Our teams can now focus on the value-added activities like making sure our projects are delivered to the best quality and finding innovative solutions that solve our client’s problems. says Ron.

The vision for Movares is that all projects will be live on Autodesk’s Construction Cloud and time will not be wasted searching for documents, looking for data or waiting for information to be provided. The team hope this means that the time saved can be used to expand into other project disciplines to create new revenue streams.

Martijn Tijhof

Construction Account Executive in EMEA, Autodesk