Interview Anwar Hassan: The how and what of BIM

What kind of materials go into a building? How much debris does renovation work produce? And what happens to all of that debris? These are just a few of the questions that Anwar Hassan, project manager for the Terminal 1 Renovation Project, will have easy answers to in the near future. He is responsible for the BIM process, which involves 3D mapping of every square centimetre in the Departures 1 and Lounge 1 project at Schiphol.

Indistinguishable from the real thing

The entire project covers 45,000 square metres of space, involving innumerable lengths of pipe, tubes, tiles and doors. ‘Despite the vastness of the project, it is vital that we know exactly where everything is,’ says Anwar. ‘Not only for traveller safety and for future renovations, but also for maintenance procedures once construction is complete. BIM models are a great aid in this regard. These 3D visualizations enable us to walk virtually through the entire building. It’s indistinguishable from the real thing. Say a wall is in need of repair. With a click of a button, the contractor can see exactly when the wall was constructed, the materials used, the dimensions and even more information. This makes maintenance and repair operations less prone to error, and a lot easier and more economical in the long run thanks to lower failure costs.’

Pieces of a puzzle

Admittedly, BIM is a big investment at the start of such a project. ‘We put a tremendous amount of time and money into filling the model for the renovation of Departures 1 and Lounge 1,’ says Anwar. ‘We had to copy a significant amount of detail from the old, 2D construction drawings. We scanned everything else on site using the latest scanning technologies. We then put it all together like the pieces of a puzzle to create a single 3D model of the project area. One thing’s for sure: all of this effort will be worth every penny.’

Accurate to the centimetre

BIM models are a very convenient tool for us as Schiphol, but they offer yet another big advantage. ‘They make our floor plans and construction drawings even more precise. It is essential that our drawings are accurate to the centimetre, for example if an architect needs to design a new roof in future.’ The project team does not rely solely on the 3D models. ‘We also carry out random checks to see whether the model actually corresponds to the physical measurements on site.’

BIM as a basis

Schiphol has a reputation for excellence. ‘In everything,’ beams Anwar. ‘The same goes for BIM. Although we as an airport started using it somewhat late in the game, we’re getting a lot of feedback from other companies that are really impressed with the way we’re implementing BIM. And they’re even more impressed with the demands we place on ourselves.’ Anwar is clearly proud. ‘’We’ve been working with BIM for about two years now. At first, it seemed like each solution gave rise to two new questions. Now, though, I can focus fully on project management instead of on problems. Nobody sees it, nobody notices it, but BIM really is the basis of our construction project.’