By Samer Ali, CEng, MICE, PhD, PMP, MSc , Mott MacDonald
Rework is one of the biggest drains on productivity in construction. To tackle this, full adoption of digital ways of working will reduce the need for rework while unlocking wider benefits throughout assets lifecycle. This requires reasonable accuracy of design input data to feed into 3D BIM information models.
For example, during the feasibility stage, infrastructure owners identify factors which influence the certainty of time and cost estimates and impact the project’s risk profile. These influencing factors include surveys, stakeholder requirements, site access constraints, site investigations, construction methods and logistics, which constitute key inputs to design development. The more confident we can be in our design input data from an early stage, the less redesign work is needed.
"The more confident we can be in our design input data from an early stage, the less redesign work is needed"
Another aspect that is considered at the start of the infrastructure project feasibility stage is defining overarching strategies for operation, maintenance and for safeguarding users and workers. In infrastructure projects, such strategies influence the functional requirements and subsequently, the project’s geometric settings. Greater maturity of such strategies would help reduce redesign as project development progresses.
However, developing the design in a 3D BIM environment requires more work to spatially coordinate information and resolve clashes compared to traditional working methods. This has cost and time implications. And there are always times when some design modifications are needed, especially in response to new information or changing parameters. This is especially common during the early stages of the design process at the concept or development stages. Although this requires more upfront time and costs, the pay-off is seen in the greater insights provided by well-managed asset information models. For example, we have seen several benefits on our surface transportation projects, including more reliable project data, greater certainty and improved planning.
An information strategy is crucial
Considering the vast amounts of data that can be generated during the asset lifecycle, infrastructure owners must set out an overarching information management strategy at the outset to outline the direction of travel. Such a strategy must define the purpose of information required during the project lifecycle, how this information will support overall goals, and the level of confidence in the information collected throughout all development phases.
For the information strategy to be successful, it should relate to the maturity of input data such as surveys and site investigations which are typically procured in phases on infrastructure projects and progressively inform the design’s level of maturity and level of confidence. A balance has to be struck between developing more comprehensive data for the insights and efficiency it brings, and the impact on the cost of producing and managing this design data.
As we evolve towards Industry 4.0, the uptake of 3D BIM for infrastructure design continues to accelerate. As new projects are set up, one of the key questions we need to address is: at what point in the project lifecycle do we need comprehensive and accurate datasets? Answering this question considering the state of each project, maturity of design input data, the benefits to be gained and project funding will inevitably boost productivity.