Construction For NorthConnex Tunnel Continued with 12d Synergy

by | Jun 21, 2021 | Blog, Case Studies

Since winning the overall 12d Innovation Award at the 2016 12d Tech Forum, the NorthConnex project has continually grown in magnitude. The amount of data collected daily grew exponentially, with many attributes collected for every vertex along the tunnel. For a typical 500m section of rock, there are 2,000 strings, 30,000 points and millions of attributes attached to that one section – and this is only the surface of the amount of information being collected. Consequently, for a 9-kilometer twin motorway tunnel, the figures are remarkable! Through this growth, 12d Synergy has further proved itself as a strong, reliable and robust common data environment to store this impressive amount of data.

To accommodate the amount of data being received, automations were created to optimise the workflow for the project. The two challenges presented towards the end of construction for the NorthConnex tunnel was the ability to produce plots smoothly and quickly from the survey data and to store the number of attributes securely. Again, macros were designed for these challenges and 12d Synergy accommodated the macros seamlessly into its common data environment.

The joint venture between Lendlease and Bouygues Construction had four main future targets for the project since construction began. They were focused on producing more efficient outputs for NorthConnex, to streamline the volume of work, and to address the challenges presented. The four targets for the NorthConnex project were to expand the automation of processes, provide further real-time reporting, improve management of data, and finally deliver data-driven solutions. These targets were all supported through 12d Synergy.

Watch: NorthConnex Tunnel Update with David Mares & Matthew Monk

Watch a presentation by David Mares & Matthew Monk (Survey Manager and Civil Engineer respectively of the NorthConnex project) at the 201 12d Technical Forum.

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To simplify the workflow for producing PDF plots from survey data, this process was automated and standardised. A customised macro through 12d Model was pre-set with standard PPFs and plot frames. It was then just a matter of receiving the survey data and with that information, the plots would automatically be produced. This macro generated and issued both sketch & formal plots for the team. Each plot was added to a drawing register and then the outputs – the reports themselves were automatically named.


12d Synergy not only supported this macro but then also automatically added more attributes to the report, moved them into their specific folder to maintain a clear structure for QA purposes, and finally pushed the data out to the team. This allowed the engineers and managers to make more informed and efficient decisions with regards to the design and construction of the NorthConnex tunnel.

Attributes Database

The project had 12d Field attributes attached to every vertex within the tunnel. This created extremely large as-built models and impacted the loading and transfers of files. This meant there were challenges with either disk space, limited memory on the tablets, or restricted bandwidth across and within the different underground sites. For an 8.2 GB project in size it had 65,000 elements and 900,000 points – which took 13 minutes to download (in office). This timing could be utilised productively elsewhere. Out on site, the timings were much worse with the limited bandwidth. To combat this, the attributes were exported to files on the server and replaced with a link to a file within a secure location.


12d Synergy was the ultimate common data environment which allowed this process to run smoothly and seamlessly. As a result, the project size was reduced significantly with this new process. That same project example before was reduced to 1.3 GB in size (over 80% in reduction!), now only taking 2 minutes to download. Subsequently, this reduced time for downloading data allows the entire team to utilise and allocate valuable resources elsewhere with other critical jobs and tasks in more productive ways.

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Michelle was a marketing coordinator here at 12d Synergy. Hailing from sunny Brisbane, she has a background in mechanical engineering authoring a final year thesis on reuseable scramjets (faster than a rocket, smaller than a plane). Outside work & rocketry, Michelle enjoys binging Netflix and food with friends.