LEIF GRANHOLM: PRE ends, BIM work continues

LEIF GRANHOLM: PRE ends, BIM work continues

The greatest contribution of four-year PRE-program has been the closer collaboration between actors and research institutes. Its impacts and visibility appear to be increasing, especially internationally, says BIM Ambassador Leif Granholm.

In 1979 a young, thriving software company named Tekla Oy persuaded Leif Granholm, a fifth year student at Helsinki University of Technology, to join its ranks. The move proved successful: 34 years later Leif Granholm, M.Sc. (Eng), is Senior Vice President of Tekla Corporation´s Building & Construction business area and an internationally renowned BIM Ambassador.

Granholm´s over-30-year stint has involved tasks in almost all of Tekla´s business areas from programming to sales and from export marketing to heading an infrastructure business unit. Granholm also served as the CEO of Tekla´s Swedish subsidiary for eight years.

– Initially I was supposed to work part-time but soon found myself working overtime, Granholm recalls. In his later career he has worked at many jobs: “moved from the remotest corner of the facility to the fore and back.” Construction and BIM became the focus of his work a little over 10 years ago. Until then, geographic information systems dominated.

Plunging into BIM slightly delayed his studies. Granholm graduated in 1993, 18 years after commencing his studies. Instead of becoming a perpetual student he became an “ambassador”:

– I´m in my fourth year of being a BIM Ambassador. It involves spreading the tidings of BIM and especially OpenBIM across the world and within Tekla. Much of my time is spent doing standardization work: I represent both Tekla and Trimble at BuildingSmart, not to speak of the numerous ISO Committees.

A BIM breakthrough on the horizon also for the infrastructure sector

Tekla and Granholm are involved in the BIMCON, InfraFINBIM and DRUM packages of RYM´s PRE program. According to Granholm, DRUM is involved in what might be called basic research to produce platforms for applications.

– DRUM is developing a practical method for exchanging BIM-based information between parties as well as ways of implementing data transfer. So far, most projects have been based on a single centralized server, whereas the information management architecture of DRUM is distributed, Granholm informs.

Granholm believes that the infrastructure sector is basically well-positioned for a BIM breakthrough since its software has been BIM-based for long – however, only within the software supplier´s own environment. Information flow between sector actors is impeded by the lack of common standards. The same crying need as in building construction has not existed for them since the actors are fewer and larger.

Granholm is pleased that the infrastructure sector has taken up BIM-based design of not only roads and railroads, but also bridges and tunnels. The goal is to have large infrastructure managers commission only BIM-based services from 2014 on. That is possible, although challenging. Most information flow may well be BIM-based already next year, Granholm estimates.

PRE ends, BIM work continues

The four-year PRE program will end at the end of this year. Granholm thinks its greatest contribution has been the closer collaboration between actors and research institutes. – The RYM PRE research has suited us well. Its impacts and visibility appear to be increasing, especially internationally. We could have done with less bureaucracy though, he sums up.

So, the PRE program will be discontinued, but the development of BIM and introduction of its results will continue in many forms. The concrete steps forward are still undetermined. And what does Leif Granholm expect to be busying himself with in coming years?

– Retirement is looming, naturally. Yet, I´m certain that my current tasks will keep me busy until then. For instance, England is expending huge efforts to introduce BIM. The government has ordered that by 2016 all public projects must be implemented utilizing BIM. The aim is to cut costs by 20 percent – i.e. to accomplish 20 percent more with the same amount of money.

No wonder, then, that the BIM Ambassador will introduce DRUM to the driver of the British megaproject in the near future.