Making the digital visual and vice versa


KAEFER Construction in Germany

Geoscience is about scale. So is KAEFER Construction. The redevelopment project at the Institute for Geosciences at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in northern Germany is a major project that will test the company’s ability to provide clever digital solutions.

When it comes to large-scale construction projects, it’s just as important to be able to see the big picture as it is to see the little details that it’s made up of. This is where digital visualisation plays a key role in giving project managers and construction operatives alike the possibility to optimise the way a project works. The redevelopment of the Institute for Geosciences (IfG) at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in northern Germany is a complex and multifaceted construction endeavour. That makes it the perfect opportunity to put new digital solutions into practice.

Complexity in scale and ambition

This project involves the construction of replacement areas for large parts of the IfG, including the erection of a modern building for working groups as well as a substantial and wide, two-storey geotechnical hall for large-scale experiments in geoscience. For the new IfG building, the intention is to achieve a silver rating according to the Federal Ministry of Construction's Sustainable Building Rating System for Laboratory Buildings.

All levels of the geotechnical hall are connected to the neighbouring IfG building. The three-storey structure (including the basement) is a reinforced concrete construction with prefabricated reinforced concrete trusses. The exterior walls and wall sections as well as the floor slabs are to be made of in-situ concrete. The façade design of the geotechnical hall will use large-format, surface-treated prefabricated reinforced concrete elements.

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Simplifying solutions for continuous improvement

Because of the cramped construction site and location, there are strict guidelines to follow in terms of access, logistics, area management, security and travel arrangements, to name a few. This is precisely where a digital solution comes in very handy not just to help visualise the complexity of the structure, but also to help manage the project.

This is achieved with an application that can be used on mobile devices as well as on large screens with computer access. The app originated with Callum Peter Berlin, a master's student at KAEFER Construction and can be used on the construction site to accurately document all progress. The control and construction is ensured by the real construction plan of the Gebäudemanagement Schleswig-Holstein AöR (GMSH), which is responsible for the implementation of the construction measure. The way the app works ensures the documentation and observation of different levels and rooms by clicking on the individual positions. In a dashboard displayed on a large screen on the construction site itself, the entire overview of the construction site and the rooms is illustrated. This makes it possible to intuitively observe the current state of progress every day with the help of a coloured traffic light system.

This kind of approach is a prime example of LEAN at work.

“This project is ideal for digitalising progress,” comments Torsten Zschischang, Interior Outfitting Project Manager at KAEFER Construction. “Our solution will clearly show the status of labour, machines, materials, execution progress and much more. This visualised representation is very important because different tasks are carried out by different trades. It gives us a quick overview of where, what and how things are running or not for our customers and subcontractors.” On top of that, the many different areas of the building can be divided into subcategories such as levels, rooms and even individual components. This means that every aspect can be scrutinised to ensure that labour and materials are being used efficiently.

Thomas Schneeloch, LEAN Manager at KAEFER Construction adds: “This kind of approach is a prime example of LEAN at work. It helps our employees gain a quick overview of what is happening, what jobs need to be completed and, perhaps most importantly, how things can be done better. LEAN is a process of continuous improvement and digitalisation and visualisation of processes plays a big part here.”

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