Greater impact by working digitally with ANT

Topics such as sustainability, circularity and biodiversity are increasing the level of complexity of tasks such as the construction of civil infrastructure. The result is more disciplines, more data and more complex integrated design tasks. Data-driven, digital working on projects can help us continue to make impact in spite of this. ANT, the online platform for design and project management developed by CollaborAll and Witteveen+Bos, is a great example of how this occurs. Marc Taken is group leader for the Process Automation group and talks about the added value of ANT.

Changed direction of data flows

‘We identified numerous opportunities on integrated infrastructure design projects to improve collaboration and connections in the chain.’ Originally, vertical data flows were a major problem: they meant that certain data was exclusive to a single technical discipline or department. ‘The ANT platform, with its linked tooling, allows data to flow horizontally between different chain partners and/or disciplines. In this way, the problem of changes or stakeholder needs going unnoticed (or noticed too late) by other stakeholders is a thing of the past.’

Successful deployment on major projects

ANT makes it possible to set up design processes quickly and flexibly, and to monitor quality and progress during design and construction phases. The platform has now been successfully deployed on major infrastructure projects in the Benelux region, such as the Lemmer-Delfzijl waterway, ViA15, Zuidasdok, and the Blankenburg and Oosterweel Links. Continuously being refined and developed by CollaborAll and Witteveen+Bos’s experts, the software is now ISO 27001-certified and safe to use.

‘Every specialist works in real time using the same up-to-date data.’

Single source of truth

The core of ANT is managing, streamlining and accessing all data used on infrastructure projects. The platform facilitates a central location for this data and provides access to all parties involved. ‘Every specialist from Witteveen+Bos and our external partners works in real time using the same up-to-date data. This includes calculations, drawings and designs and means there is a single source of truth, making for better designs that are completed faster and at a lower cost.’

Integrated collaboration

Application programming interfaces (APIs) with commonly used software or sources (e.g. SCIA Engineer, Plaxis, Excel, Python, Revit, Relatics, and the ECI database) enable the integration of data in ANT. Where necessary, new APIs can be developed for other software. For users, ANT also provides in-depth functions including task statuses and dashboards to help monitor and improve technical processes.

The power of parametric design

ANT’s development means that users can now also harness the power of parametric design when working on civil engineering structures. This ranges from retrieval and visualisation with BIM 360 and GIS to generating fully substantiated designs. ‘The integrated traffic bridge tool is a good example: it guides users through the calculations, calculation report and calculation model, as well as the drawing and drawing model. It also continuously learns from previous projects,’ explains Marc.

Generative design

Currently, an ‘in-situ bridge’ and a ‘bridge with precast girders’ can be automatically calculated and generated. In the future, wood and steel will be added, allowing all possible design variants to be quickly generated. ‘Generative design saves time and creates space to make better choices – for example, by giving greater weight to carbon impact or ECI or by looking at how to stimulate biodiversity in the wider context of the design task. It is also a powerful tool for involving the client better in the design process and decision-making. You can easily show the impact on the design of certain choices – for example, in works execution or budget.’