During the last 7 years at Atkins, digital transformation has been the main focus for Lasse Jensen. He has played a key role in the 3D modelling work for the newly-opened 60 km high-speed railway between Copenhagen – Ringsted in Denmark.
The new railway between Copenhagen and Ringsted is not only Denmark's first railway built for high-speed; it is also the first Danish railway project based on 3D modelling and digital document management. The railway engineering project has been handled by a consortium with Atkins as lead, and we have recently handed over the project to the client Banedanmark (Rail Net Denmark) – delivered on time and to the agreed price. The contract value was DKK 200 million (≈ EUR 28 million). The other consortium partners in addition to Atkins are Vössing, EKJ and Sweco.
The man in charge of the interdisciplinary CAD coordination of the project was 36-year-old ICT-Manager Lasse Jensen, specialist in project management and CAD coordination of large infrastructure and construction projects in Atkins. Prior to joining Atkins, Lasse worked with the very early stages of 3D modelling of infrastructure, soil engineering and storm and sanitary projects at the consulting engineering company Moe. This makes him one of Denmark's most experienced capacities in the field. Lasse Jensen says:
“The new railway has been a flagship project in Banedanmark’s digital transformation. Thanks to their high ambitions, we have reached a very high level of digitalisation. It has been a challenging change project, but with a happy outcome and with very significant benefits, both during the project phase and in the operation of the railway. Thus, the experience from the project is relevant in relation to future railways and other infrastructure and construction projects.”
Scepticism turned to enthusiasm
Lasse Jensen, who has a background as technical designer says that at the beginning he was sometimes met with scepticism from colleagues in engineering and from the consortium partners due to the introduction of new processes for doing the project design in 3D.
“It has been an exciting process, and at times also challenging with long working hours and periodically sceptical faces from colleagues and business partners – primarily in the initial phase of the project. 3D modelling is a new way of doing project design and planning on large railway projects, and the organization had to spend some time getting used to it and to adapt. During the project, the overall view on 3D turned when we began to see the real benefits of doing the project design in 3D models." He continues:
"For me personally and for Atkins as lead of the railway design project, it has first and foremost been a communication task to respond to the concerns of the various parties about project planning and project design in 3D – just as it has been my key role to get everyone up to a certain basic level of 3D modelling. But we succeeded in gradually getting everyone up to a higher level and even pushing the boundaries and gaining an understanding of the massive benefits.”
The digital twin
At the start-up phase of the project, we worked on basis of ordinary 2D drawings as project basis.
"As the project progressed, we got to make a digital copy of the existing conditions as well as the details of the designed railway – a digital twin.”
The drawing review meetings in the project also went from being based on many printed drawings to using an interdisciplinary model containing all the 3D models for each discipline.
Lasse Jensen elaborates: “It was a great advantage to be able to show and review the interdisciplinary model on a large screen and show it to the discipline leads, construction managers and our own and the client's project management. We could explore the model and turn and toss it as needed. We could look at details and make cross-sectional views at specific locations. This made the interdisciplinary review process of the project very dynamic and provided better traceability."
Increasing the level of detail in the models
Along the way, Atkins and Banedanmark have increased the level of detail in the models which has resulted in many more advantages.
"Each specific component information is layered based within the 3D models, and we can look into every detail of specific elements. Everyone worked in the same digital models, and this everyone has had access to fully updated drawings and data; we did not have to send drawings back and forth between the different parties. Through deploying collision tests in the digital twin, we have been able to quickly identify the places where there were challenges – for example where a designed drainage solution collided with the designed traction current system.”
Another example of an advantage of the digitalisation of infrastructure projects is when it comes to soil engineering works. Here, Atkins has delivered data sets to the contractors who could use data from the 3D models directly in the excavator and thereby reduce the number of surveyor hours during excavations, build-up of embankments, etc.
The management of all 3D models and CAD related processes, including quality assurance, was carried out in the document management system ProjectWise. This has saved time and streamlined workflows in the production, the interdisciplinary CAD coordination internally and externally as well as in the final delivery of models and drawings to Banedanmark.
The greatest advantage is obtained in operation and maintenance
Atkins has delivered the 'As Built' documentation in 3D models – i.e. 3D models that show exactly how the entire railway has been built. This means that Banedanmark can now use the digital twin to operate and maintain their facilities. By adding so-called metadata about sub-elements such as catenary elements, mast types, pumps etc. they get a very tangible overview of which manufacturers the items come from, what the expected lifetime is and when they should be maintained. Everything is traceable, and maintenance can now be planned much more systematically and is expected to provide major operational benefits in the long run.