Byldis ups efficiency and teamwork with Trimble Connect and Trimble Connect AR

Dutch prefab specialist brings 3D rebar models to the shop floor in AR for office-to-factory integration

11-02-2022. Source Trimble 

The latest additions to some of Europe’s most iconic skylines come from a provincial town in the Netherlands. Byldis, an off-site construction specialist, is designing, manufacturing and installing full off-site building solutions, precast concrete cladding and integrated aluminum facades across Europe, with a focus on the Benelux region, Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. Over the last 50 years the company has developed from a general contractor to a prefab specialist. It operates its precast concrete factory and ready-made façade facility near the innovation hub of Eindhoven. Already a Tekla Structures BIM software powerhouse, the company looked to engrain the latest Trimble construction technology deeper into its operation, by connecting the office and the factory by digitally bringing its intricate rebar models to the factory floor. Its latest feat: making rebar models mobile through the use of the Trimble Connect AR augmented reality technology, with the help of Trimble value-added reseller Construsoft.

 “The prefab construction market is an innovation hotspot,” says Stefan Kauffeld, information manager at Byldis. “We manage the entire process from design, production, to logistics and finally installation on the job site. Modern precast building offers endless possibilities in terms of design, color, and size of the elements. The only limiting factor is the ability to transport the elements we produce. Designwise, we can turn –almost– any design into reality, so architects are seeing the incredible opportunities that prefab brings. Especially for projects in dense urban areas.”

Office-to-factory integration

With growing demand, both in the number of projects as well as in the complexity of the designs, Byldis felt the need to drive the integration of the office —with its design team, estimators, and engineers— and the production facilities. All in order to streamline production, root out failure costs and drive efficiency across the entire workflow. With as an important first step, the 3D models making their way from the office to the mesh welding plants in the engineering and production environment.

 “Traditionally, this business still relies heavily on paper drawings that are used across the entire workflow, from the office to the shop floor and from the initial design stage to the final quality control of the finished product,” says Emille Geuze, 3D planning engineer at Byldis and as such responsible for concrete rebar production. “For a large part the rebar webs are produced by our mesh welding plants, but they still require our welders to put the various parts together by hand and add the details that the machines can’t. When we introduced digital models to the factory floor, this was met with strong skepticism. Many of our welders didn’t want to have anything to do with 3D models. Nevertheless, we offered the opportunity to gain more insight into the intricacies of the design by putting terminals at all the welding stations.”

Single view of the model

With access to the Tekla 3D models on the screens through Trimble Connect, the welders now have the possibility to really dive into the models to get a better understanding of what is required of them. The models help determine the exact placement of e.g. lifting anchors. And through the live connection to the design department, all models are always up-to-date. So any last-minute changes always make it to the factory floor. The design team, the welding plant, the welding team and the concrete department all work from one-and-the-same model. Now the welding team is highly appreciative of having the complete, detailed models at their fingertips instead of having to carry around a set of drawings.

Kauffeld: “The most important drivers behind our adoption of these technologies are that we’re always looking to promote teamwork, efficiency and safety. That is key for our current team, but we also need to keep our line of business interesting for the younger generation, which is much more used to working with digital information. So, when our Trimble technology partner Construsoft introduced us to the Trimble Connect AR, we immediately seized the opportunity.”

Augmented Reality

Trimble Connect for AR is an augmented reality tool that combines 3D model information as an overlay on the camera view of a tablet. Byldis is now experimenting how it can use the technology to eliminate the use of 2D drawings entirely. The engineering team of Byldis created a purpose-built table to work with a real-life rebar mesh. In this co-creation effort with the Trimble product development team and Construsoft, Byldis beta tested a unique setup, in which the model moved around an object (in this case the rebar web) instead of in a three-dimensional space. Using QR codes to line up the model with the real-life situation, the team has managed to get to a workable system for e.g. quality control. It is part of an ongoing concerted push to develop and test applications to introduce to the more dynamic shop floor.

Once the technology is ready to support the exact positioning of e.g. services anchors in the rebar meshes, AR could optimize quality control during the entire workflow, eliminating rework by being able to recognize design flaws at a much earlier time and catching deviations from the design in the rebar mesh assemblies before they are placed inside the concrete mold. Also, Byldis is actively researching the use of Trimble Connect AR in comparing prefab brick patterns laid out in molds to the architects’ pattern designs.

Potentially, Byldis states, savings generated using the AR technology could run in the tens of thousands of euros on a yearly basis based on current quality control data.