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  • Future Insight

Quick insight into projects with Clearly.Projects and FME

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Rick Makkinga is involved as a technical specialist and systems engineer in the implementation of Clearly projects at our customers. With his civil engineering background, he is able to think along substantively and at the same time identify the opportunities to use Clearly optimally.

Clearly is widely used in infrastructure projects, such as the construction or redesign of roads, dyke improvements or the construction of new high-voltage lines. All these projects have in common that there is so much information that without good tools you no longer have an overview and insight. There are simply too many stakeholders involved, too many agreements made or too much research data within the project area. This leads to errors, extra costs and unnecessary nuisance for the environment.

With Clearly we help contractors and clients, so that they ultimately do get that insight into their project. We do this with a smart combination of work processes and information on the map.

In a diptych, Harmen Kampinga and I explain how we help our customers with these projects with the powerful combination of Clearly and FME.

In this first part I will discuss the challenges we see and how we solve them with the use of Clearly. On the basis of an example I will take you through our approach.

Harmen shows in the second part how we use FME to make our approach better, more reliable and faster.

Where can I find information?

In many infrastructure projects, we see that problems arise due to the inability to find information on the one hand and information overload on the other. Important information about the project is scattered across countless documents and systems, both in contract preparation and in the design and realization phase. With every transition to a new phase, for example when the project is awarded to a contractor, the information is flattened into a PDF. As a result, much of the original traceability of the information is lost.

In the end, all these PDFs go to the contractor who starts a new search from there. Which piece of information is in which PDF on which page? As a contractor you lose the confidence that you are in control. How do you make sure you don't overlook anything, how do you relate all the information from the PDFs to each other?

We recently received a tender file containing 2,180 PDFs. Is this the best way to provide insight into information about the project? Or is that asking for trouble…

We are convinced that this can and should be done differently. Surely it should be possible to provide insight into all current dominant information about a certain location at the touch of a button?


Infrastructure projects ultimately have the same end goal: to realize a certain work outside. Virtually all information in a project is therefore related to a specific location outside, on the map. In practice, however, we see that this link with the location is often not made explicitly. As a result, important information is immediately lost. A textual description of the location is often open to all sorts of interpretations, while a real link to the map makes the location immediately clear to everyone.

In Clearly we explicitly link work processes to the map. For example, a land acquisition file is, by definition, about a location. By linking the work process to the map, everyone can see which piece of land is being purchased and everyone can see the current status of the process. You are therefore no longer dependent on a periodic update from the land acquirer and you do not run the risk of looking at information that is already outdated. An additional advantage: because you can superimpose all information in Clearly, you can immediately see whether the correct land is still being purchased after a design revision.

The basics in order

In projects you always have to deal with an existing situation, information that is already there. For example, information from a previous project or project phase. To be able to start using Clearly properly, it is therefore important to first have the basics in order: all relevant project information must be easy to find in Clearly .

We almost always start Clearly projects by setting up the information on the map. For example, by literally putting all information from a tender dossier 'on the map'. We then supplement this with the wealth of open data that is available, but which is often not found by project teams. This may concern, for example, designs, cables & pipelines, research results or agreements made with stakeholders.

What effort is required to get that information on the map, of course, depends on how the information is available in the base. When it comes to existing geo-information, it's a piece of cake. If the information is only available as a PDF, it is often a bit more work.

However, it is often important to get that basis in order in a relatively short time. The available time is particularly limited during tenders. That is why we make extensive use of FME to considerably speed up the process of putting information on the map.

On the basis of an example I will show how we do this and what the result is for the project team. In his blog, Harmen goes into more detail about the workflows used in FME.

Fast reliable information processing with FME

Information about cables & pipes (K&L) is relevant in almost all infrastructure projects. The location of existing K&L is therefore often one of the things that we provide insight in Clearly. To view that information, however, you need special apps, or you have to fall back on the supplied PDFs. When your project is somewhat larger, you soon have ten or more separate deliveries and you miss the overall overview. You can then see the location of the K&L, but the actual interfaces with your project are not yet clear. That is of course not ideal.

That is why we process all those separate KLIC deliveries in FME into one clear set of map layers that we add in Clearly . Grouped by type of cable or pipeline, you have insight into all K&L for the entire route with just a few mouse clicks. By turning on the current design in Clearly, you immediately see where there are interfaces between the project and the same K&L. And because the environment manager keeps track of the entire stakeholder file in Clearly, you can immediately see who owns the plot in question and what agreements have been made with that stakeholder. And if we make a new KLIC report in a few months, it will also be in Clearly in no time.

Collaborating with information

We often go one step further, to ensure that the project team actually works together with all the information in Clearly .

We do this, for example, by automatically creating an item in Clearly for all interfaces. Consider, for example, every interface of the project with a high-voltage cable. These kinds of interfaces can have a significant impact on costs, planning and execution method.

In FME we indicate which types of K&L are relevant and we can determine all interfaces based on the design and the previously mentioned K&L map layers. The corresponding items are then immediately created in Clearly in the interface process. Through the agreed process steps, Clearly then guarantees that each interface is picked up by someone and that this person formulates a solution for each interface.

In this way we provide information on the map, which is of great value to the project in itself, and a follow-up in the work processes.

We do this not only with cables & pipes, but also with flora & fauna, environmental hygiene research, asphalt research and geotechnical research. The goal is always the same: to make information available in one central place and clearly visualized, so that it is easy to consult and to ensure that something is actually done with that information through the associated processes.

Why Clearly?

There are various systems available that help you structure and provide insight into project information. Consider, for example, GIS, DMS, Relatics and various discipline-specific tools, for example for environmental management. Also, much of the information that we make clear in Clearly is already available in another system or format. For example, in a separate system with open data, such as PDOK, or in the aforementioned PDFs.

Clearly's strength is in bringing that information together, supported by processes that enable the entire team to work together based on that information. Clearly is not limited to one discipline, but is intended to support the entire project team. We prevent you from needing all kinds of specialist software to view all the information.

In this way everyone always has the correct and up-to-date information and everyone has optimal insight into the project.

In this first part of our diptych about Clearly and FME, I mainly discussed Clearly and the end-user side of the story. In the sequel, Harmen will further discuss the use of FME.

Want to know more?

Do you want to know more? Dennis Wieringa is happy to tell you more about it.


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