Career stories | BIM Manager Jouni Koivuneva

“Building information modelling is a dress rehearsal for construction”

Building information modelling (BIM) might be a somewhat unfamiliar term to both ordinary people and construction experts – unless you’re Jouni Koivuneva. He works as BIM Manager at Lehto – for him, it’s a dream career in which he’s involved in continuously developing the industry.

In simple terms, building information modelling (BIM) means turning construction plans into a three-dimensional form. Compared to the traditional world of two dimensions, BIM provides ten times more information. “BIM is in a way a dress rehearsal for construction. Many people have the wrong idea that we’re the ones who create the information models. That’s not how it goes. The designers provide us with the models. It’s our task to check their compatibility, usability and data content. For instance, the engineering firm Insinööritoimisto Mäkeläinen provides us with the building design, while the architectural designs come from an architects’ office, and so on. Our task is to combine them into an effective whole – so that, for example, electrical wiring and pipes don’t occupy the same space.”

Koivuneva has worked at Lehto for a total of five years, of which he’s spent the last three on BIM. It’s a long time in this sector, as BIM in itself is such a young field.

At Lehto, he started out as an electrical project manager in pipeline renovations. “Then Lehto – like the rest of the construction industry – had the need to develop construction plans into a digital format. I was asked to join the BIM team as an expert.”

At present, four people work in Lehto’s BIM team. That seems like a very small number, considering how large Lehto is. “There were originally nine or ten of us, but thanks to our development efforts we’ve been able to hand over work to the projects and automate BIM processes, which reduced the need for personnel.”

Jouni Koivuneva works as BIM Manager at Lehto.

From an electrical technician to a BIM expert

No vocational training in BIM is available. People end up in this field through different educational paths.

“A background in construction is certainly useful, but we provide training on the software. Training as a design assistant is another example of a good basic background for this job.”

That said, a strong desire to learn and digital dexterity are enough, as in the case of Jouni. “I was trained as an electrical technician. However, I drifted into the IT sector and have constantly kept educating myself in this field.”

His work as an electrical technician has faded into the background – BIM has stolen his heart.

“BIM is such a young field that we’re always moving ahead. I’m fascinated by its constant development and the number of challenges we must tackle. In addition, we have a fantastic team to work and learn with.”

For Jouni, it is important to see others becoming interested and learning how things actually work – it gives him a feeling of success. And fortunately Jouni is surrounded by plenty of enthusiastic people at Lehto. “It’s great when someone comes and asks us to show them how BIM works. It usually doesn’t take long before that person is manipulating a model on the computer like a pro.”

One-click tactics

During the past three years, Jouni has become used to the nature of the work – sometimes they power ahead at full speed, while sometimes they have to take steps back. “Small steps. This kind of development work requires perseverance. You can’t press on too eagerly. Now the legislation is being changed, too – in the future, it must be possible to use BIM when applying for a building permit. That is, you submit a 3D model instead of a 2D plan. That’s a big challenge. We at Lehto are participating in a working group that is tackling this in Finland.”

Jouni feels that Lehto is the right place to work on BIM in other ways, too. “Lehto’s management support our work and development, and my colleagues are motivated. Working on development is nice.”

When asked what lies in the future for BIM, Jouni has a clear answer. “We want to enhance BIM to enable us to manage product information with a single click. We would be able to export standard data from the model directly into systems.”

This dream isn’t far from becoming a reality, either. “No. Fortunately, Lehto gives you responsibility and you can really make a difference.”

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