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Designing a Level of Development information modelling framework for subsurface utility design and construction

Wolf, Gerben (2021) Designing a Level of Development information modelling framework for subsurface utility design and construction.

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Abstract:Information modelling is becoming more commonplace in construction. In this context, the Building Information Modelling (BIM) paradigm combines information modelling features by modelling object-based, storing object geometries and their relations in 3D, and attaching semantic/attributes to them. This approach has been adopted in this industry, and to this end, guidelines have been developed that express how models incrementally (e.g. along the project lifecycle) gain detail and semantic richness. The subsurface utility (SU) sector follows this trend gradually. It has started exploring the potential of, for example, 3D visualization, semantic modelling in geographic information systems (GIS), and geo-databases. Information models, with properties similar to BIM models, are also used in an increasing number of SU-projects. However, what is less known to date for this sector, is when and how lifecycle information of assets (that are modelled as Model Elements) should be captured in those models, and how this information changes when an assets moves between project life cycle stages. Siers Infraconsult B.V. is one of the (utility) contractors facing this problem, and consequently struggles to implement this BIM-paradigm inspired work practice. The literature proposes that the Level of Development (LOD) framework could be used to revolve this issue. Here, the development of a Model Elements’ geometry and associated numeric and/or textual attribute data are defined within six general and distinctive levels. In other words, it defines different levels of how to specify Model Elements and how to interpret these. The LOD framework functions as a reference when stakeholders exchange Model Element data. To date, LOD frameworks have been developed for the building subsector. However, such a specification does not exist to support practice in SU. To address this gap, and resolve the problems faced at Siers, the goal of this study was to design a Level of Development framework for information modelling of utility network elements in subsurface utility projects. To reach this goal, this research followed three-phases of a design science methodology, which iterated over the activities of designing and investigating. In the first phase of Problem Investigation, a stakeholder analysis was performed, documents and literature regarding existing specifications and information model applications were reviewed and an empirical case study was executed. Next, in the Treatment Design-phase, requirements for the LOD framework are specified. Besides, available specification frameworks were studied and Model Elements in existing 2D and 3D project deliverables of Siers were analysed. Moreover, seven actors were consulted via workshops and interviews to gain more data about how they would want to specify Model Elements in a possible future information modelling practice at Siers. The LOD framework was validated during the Treatment Validation-phase, via an end-user session. Here, four (future) end-users evaluated the design of the LOD framework on its specified requirements and five criteria: understandability, usability, completeness, structure, and utility. In addition, the interaction between them and the designed LOD framework was assessed. The validated outcome of this design project entails a LOD framework and accompanying specification documentation for information modelling in the SU sector. The deliverable focuses on one type of project in which Siers considers to gain most value from 3D modelling, namely complex projects. The designed LOD framework consists of six distinctive levels (LODs) which capture the development of the specification of assets in the SU sector. In short, this evolves from schematic (LOD 100), to conceptual (LOD 200), to exact exterior geometry (LOD 250), to exact geometry (LOD 300), exact geometry with connections (LOD 350), to fabrication (LOD 400). These LODs each contain a custom definition for the SU sector of a Model Element’s geometry, attribute data and reliability. Besides, the LOD framework includes hierarchy as it assumes Model Elements pass through these level and therefore become more enriched with details. In addition, the framework is of cumulative nature as lower LODs are prerequisites for following LODs.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Siers Infraconsult B.V.
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Programme:Construction Management and Engineering MSc (60337)
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