Articles

Bjelland, COWI, and Statens Vegvesen reduced construction time with 50-70% through paperless design and construction 

June 17, 2024

Photo: Stavanger Aftenblad

The Challenge 

The massive Transport Corridor West project (“rv. 509 Transportkorridor vest”; ~13 km long), is located on the west coast of Norway in Sola near Stavanger/Sandnes metropolitan area, which is the third largest in Norway. The road owner, the Norwegian Public Road Administration (Statens Vegvesen) had engaged contractor Bjelland and consulting engineer Cowi to design and construct part of the road.  

The primary objectives of the project were to improve traffic capacity, ease congestion, and improve access to industrial areas/ports. Initially, the plan involved upgrading the existing two-lane road to a four-lane road, with the outer lanes designated for heavy vehicles. However, this design evolved into shared lanes for public transport in addition to bicycle/pedestrian paths.  

The urgency of the project, coupled with the need for interdisciplinary collaboration and rapid planning and approvals, posed significant logistical and administrative challenges. Traditional methods of planning and executing such projects typically span up to one and a half years, but the team aimed to condense this timeline significantly. Normally, infrastructure projects rely on a mix of models and 2D drawings, but the owner, consulting engineer, and contractor wanted to complete the project fully model-based i.e., without the use of 2D drawings. 

The Solution

To address these challenges, the project team implemented a 100% model-based and paperless project model, supported by Novorender’s software. This included: 

  1. Rapid Planning and Approvals: By adopting a digital model-based approach, the team could expedite the planning and approval process. This allowed the contractor to commence setup just one and a half months after planning began, with construction starting three and a half months later—an impressive reduction in the typical timeline. 
  1. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The project necessitated close cooperation among various teams and resources. By leveraging digital models, the team facilitated better communication and coordination, ensuring that all parties were aligned and informed about the project’s progress and requirements. This helped maintain the schedule and avoid delays. 
  1. Continuous Model Updates: Since construction began before the completion of all planning phases, continuous updates to the digital model were crucial. This real-time updating process ensured that the contractors had the latest information, enabling them to make informed decisions and adjustments as needed. 

“Normally, we use a mix of models and drawings but in this project the entire construction was managed using just models. This was particularly challenging because the actual construction started before all the planning was completed. We had to continuously update the Novorender model, and it was essential to have close communication between the consulting engineer designers and the contractor regarding the ongoing work and progress.”  

–Erik Handal Nilsen, Department Manager, COWI 

Photo: Bjelland AS

Results

By adopting a 100% model-based and paperless project-model, Statens Vegvesen, COWI, and Bjelland achieved game-changing results: 

  • Project timeline reduced by 50-70%: from 18 to 6-8 months 
  • Detailed design and construction were carried out at the same time with success: construction started already after 3.5 after project start and while detailed design was underway 
  • By following a structured approach, the project will be certified in accordance with BREEAM and will contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions 

“The project includes multiple constructions and is highly interdisciplinary, requiring us to collaborate and coordinate between various teams and resources to stay on schedule. Normally, it takes much longer to plan and obtain approvals from various authorities such as the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the municipality, and the Directorate of Public Roads. However, we managed to accomplish all this in just six to eight months instead of the usual one and a half years.”

– Erik Handal Nilsen, Department Manager, COWI 

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