De Watergroep and Geo-IT streamline project document management

Image copyright of De Watergroep

De Watergroep is the largest drinking water company in Flanders, the Northern region of Belgium. Serving more than 3.3 million customers and hundreds of companies, De Watergroep’s historic mission remains the same – to supply high-quality drinking water at an acceptable price.

The team at De Watergroep focuses on delivering the economical and ecological responsible management of all links in the water chain through a sustainable cycle approach: rainwater, ground and surface water, and drinking water. The company has been operating since 1913 and during this vast time span, attention has been paid to numerous technological shifts to deliver quality projects at the best value for customers.  

Traceability and Collaboration with a Common Data Environment

For any construction project creating a single source of truth underpins everything. Jochen Michiels – BIM Coordinator at De Watergroep explains the struggle, "we were working with so many third parties, sharing accurate information had become a real struggle. The challenge of making sure that every party is working with the same version of plans and documents is paramount. We had documents on a server and other parties had their own servers so there were always numerous email threads and there was a lack of clarity on if it was the latest version; it became increasingly exasperating for all involved."

The team were already using Autodesk Docs as part of their AEC collections subscription in the design and planning stage of their projects and so decided to extend these capabilities to their construction and site operations. It is a testament to the power of Autodesk Docs that in 2021 the company had four projects in Autodesk Docs, and and by halfway into 2024 they now have 20 projects in construction—and 6 in design phase in ACC. The company’s goals centre on connecting teams and project collaborators in one central space.

Benefits of working with an Autodesk Construction Cloud Elite Channel Partner

For De Watergroep, the adoption of Autodesk Construction Cloud was made all the easier because of their relationship with their Autodesk Channel Partner of choice: Geo-IT.

Both companies have a relationship spanning over 20 years working together. With expert advice and timely responsiveness in local language and time zones, Jochen explains, "working closely with Geo-IT as our Autodesk partner has helped us keep a step ahead; often presenting solutions to future problems we had not yet thought of." As a certified Autodesk Construction Cloud elite partner, Geo-IT was able to offer an account-based subscription model to allow De Watergroep to give access to as many third parties as needed; important as they are a public service company so need to provide any license themselves.

Digital Transformation for Increased Sustainability

As a water provider, digital processes and BIM coordination have proved integral to De Watergroep to meet their sustainability goals. According to the UN, water use efficiency has risen by 9%, but water stress and water scarcity remain a concern in many parts of the world. In 2020, 2.4 billion people lived in water-stressed countries. The UN’s goal states that by 2030, there should be a substantial increase in water-use efficiency across all sectors to ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Preventing waste and avoiding re-work by always working from the correct version of plans and documents ensures that De Watergroep’s sustainability quotas are met. One such quota is the ambition for the company to be climate neutral by 2050 and to build better research predictions on customer behaviour trends to best determine future water consumption. Being able to gain greater certainty through capturing and using meaningful data allows De Watergroep to ensure they stay on track to meet these sustainability quotas. The predictability offered via a common data environment is key in achieving primary business outcomes for the water industry as it minimises waste reduction by improving accuracy and reducing errors and rework.

A CDE in action: Water Production Center (WPC) De Gavers

For De Watergroep, BIM doesn’t just stand for Building Information Modelling. It also stands for Building Information Management. Construction projects such as Water Production Center De Gavers have a long lead time, often lasting several years. The De Gavers Water Production Center was built in 1995 and needed complete overhaul. In addition to removing outdated parts, ecological interventions were needed to significantly expand the water production capacity to 50,000 cubic metres per day. The works to expand the capacity of the Water Production Center started in January 2022 and will run until Spring 2025.

To manage project information flow, De Watergroep have relied on the CDE provided by ACC to keep all project collaborators on the same page at every stage of the project. Capturing all project information and valuable project data in one central space means no longer relying on emails and phone calls where information can get lost easily – along with the removal of error or potential rework. Finally, the usage of permissions settings ensures confidential and sensitive client data is not at risk because the team can assign the necessary permissions to each project team member – depending on their role in the project.

Lauren Donnebaum