Job site safety support with BIM

It’s well known that building information modeling (BIM) has set the bar high when it comes to saving time and money — the two project resources against which your construction progress and performance are typically measured. What may not be as well-known is BIM’s ability to protect another key project resource: your on-site team. Read more

Digital engineering becoming more important than ever

While digital engineering has long been touted as the next technology that can create, manage, and utilise data for infrastructure development, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought it even more into focus.

With workforces forcibly distributed as remote working directives took effect, the value of having a rich virtual building information model (BIM) to enable seamless collaboration across physically distanced workforces has never been clearer.

Consulting company GHD has already exploited the value of digital ways of working in many projects, and recently in its work on the Forrestfield-Airport Link project – part of the Metronet project in Perth – within the Salini Impregilo and NRW Joint Venture.

According to GHD’s Rail Design Lead on the project, Martin Harle, using digital tools such as BIM, geographic information systems (GIS), analytics, coding, and automation, the team was able to eliminate clashes between different models by coordinating design through one model.

“Using this technology we are able to automate clash checks across multiple complex disciplines, highlighting design coordination issues in real time,” he said. “It helps to pre-empt and resolve potential construction problems during the design process, rather than dealing with unexpected issues as they occur on site.”

Avoiding duplication and replication, the BIM system enables costs to be reduced at the design phase. This not only improves processes at the construction site, but also enables suppliers to have a clearer idea of the concepts their assets will be working in.

“So far, on the Forrestfield-Airport Link, rail track and overhead line equipment has been designed and modelled 8.5 times faster and 1152 hours have been saved in automating 180 Navisworks exports,” said Martin.

Incorporating digital tools early on in the construction of a project can also lead to efficiencies once the project is operational. At the end of the design and construct phase, asset information can be handed over to the operator to promote ongoing efficiency.

The insights that GHD has gathered from this project have been used to advantage on other projects, including the Sydney Metro. And the lessons have wider implications through the Digital Engineering Code of Practice which will be applied nationally through the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), which GHD helped design. GHD BIM lead – Western Australia and co-author of the code Belinda Thompson, said the benefits of the code are broad.

“By adopting Digital Engineering processes, increasing the accuracy of information and automating the data exchange processes, we can improve safety, reduce risk, achieve greater cost certainty and improved sustainability.”

The full Digital Engineering article can be found here: https://www.ghd.com/en/about-us/digital-engineering-in-action-driving-change-in-delivery-of-rail-projects.aspx.

Catenary for Forrestfield-Airport Link: Digital Engineering used in Safety-in-Design. Credit: GHD.

Efficient digital modelling cutting major project costs

It may be a rule of thumb that the larger a rail project is, the more its costs are expected to increase. In Sydney, the construction of the Sydney Metro CBD and Southwest is expected to increase by $3 billion, a 25 per cent increase on the initial costing of $11.5 to 12.5bn. Indeed, the Grattan Institute estimates that every 10 per cent increase in a project’s size is associated with a 6 per cent higher chance of an overrun, and that any overrun that occurs will be 3 per cent larger.

So when you are building the most expensive rail project in the world, the cost overruns could be gigantic. Already, the HS2 project in the UK is estimated to cost as much as £106bn ($208bn), however, the project delivery authority has been told to find at least £500 million in digital efficiencies.

To do so, HS2 Ltd have looked to apply digital best practice in data and modelling requirements, with the requirement to meet PAS 1192 Building Information Modelling (BIM) standards. This standard mandates a fully collaborative 3D BIM, including electronic project and asset information, documentation and data.

Implementing these requirements joint venture Skanska Costain STRABAG (SCS), which has been awarded the civil works contract for the 250km southern section between London and Birmingham. The section, and the project as a whole, will carry the fastest trains in Europe and over 30,000 passengers a day. During early contractor involvement, SCS had to formulate and achieve approval of a conceptual design scheme of 26km of railway within 14 months. To meet the client’s BIM demands, SCS needed to accommodate existing British railway systems and 6,000 utility assets, not to mention the 20km of tunnels, bridges, and five kilometres of earthworks.

Using BIM software from Bentley systems, SCS created a library of components within ProjectWise and OpenBuildings Designer to enable a distributed workforce of six companies including 550 staff across four countries.

“We have 59 nationalities, so quite diverse cultures on the team, and we like to think BIM is the common language we all speak,” said Peter Ruff, head of BIM for SCS.

The SCS team used Assetwise to connect asset information to the design model, so that operations and maintenance could be involved early. This led to an integrated BIM system which allows for real-time access to trusted information.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone, designers and contractors, can use this information,” said Ruff.

The use of Bentley systems in this early stage enabled early clash detection within the project and when interacting with the numerous outside stakeholders. This has already saved an estimated £1 million. Design review time was also reduced by having models and data in a single digital location, which saved £500,000 and the time cost of searching for information spread across multiple systems.

Using a connected digital environment also improved costing processes, an area of focus for SCS, said Ruff.

“One of our key areas that we wanted to improve was our 5D approach, where we use the BIM models to estimate and price from.”

A structured digital data environment ensured consistency and transparency for all stakeholders, enabling further accuracy. This led to a £300,000 saving in a 50 per cent reduction in design changes and 75 per cent less resources used than planned.

Moving forward from the early contractor involvement stage, the SCS team are looking to their BIM strategy underlying the information model which can be used throughout the project lifecycle.

“Using Bentley solutions has allowed us at SCS to realize our mission statement of creating a project that will be seen as the ‘Digital Blueprint of Future Infrastructure Projects’” said Ruff. “They have allowed us to create, manage, and leverage intelligent BIM models and the data housed within them on a complex project and see a significant increase in productivity, efficiencies, and collaboration between a large team and a multistage contract.”

Canterbury vent shaft

Bentley Systems acquires GroupBC

Global software and digital twin provider, Bentley Systems has acquired GroupBC.

GroupBC is a software as a service (SaaS) provider that has been widely adopted in the UK infrastructure sector. GroupBC’s common data environment (CDE) solutions including BC Projects and BC Enterprise+ are used for information management in construction and asset estates. Teams can collaborate, manage, and share documents, data, and spatial information on the central, secure cloud-based platform.

Developed in the UK, these CDEs have been adopted as best practices there, and subsequently globally, with the UK standard for construction project information management adopted by the global standard ISO 19650.

“Our many UK users, projects, and owners in common with GroupBC will gain a lot from our joining forces to advance CDEs through digital twins,” said Simon Horlsey, UK regional executive for Bentley Systems. “I have been tasked by Bentley management to help the UK to continue to lead the world in going digital for infrastructure advancement, and our new offerings and colleagues from GroupBC bring essential momentum as we pool resources to meet our market’s expanded ‘infrastructure revolution’ requirements.”

As contemporary systems, Bentley’s ProjectWise and GroupBC’s information management software will improve the collaborative BIM available to infrastructure construction projects across the entire lifecycle.

Additionally, Bentley will use its iTwin Services to connect GroupBC CDEs and ProjectWise CDEs to fully enable 4D mixed reality and analytics visibility across previously disparate CDEs for construction and engineering.

Chief technology officer for Bentley Systems, Keith Bentley, spelt out how this would improve services for customers.

“With the help of our new GroupBC colleagues, we will now be able to better serve engineers, contractors, and owners by bringing together their collective IT (information management), OT (operational technologies including reality modeling), and ET (engineering models),” he said.

scenic

KiwiRail grows revenue amid modal shift

KiwiRail has increased its revenue for the half year ending on 31 December 2019, despite what group chief executive Greg Miller called a “difficult environment”.

“We are pleased we have held the revenue line in a difficult environment that included an economic downturn in multiple markets, along with natural events that damaged the network. Despite these challenges, we saw our import/export business grow by 5 per cent compared to the previous half year,” said Miller.

The reported revenue for HY20 was NZ$333.6 million ($319.3m), a 3 per cent improvement for this period.

Miller highlighted that rail in New Zealand, and KiwiRail in particular, was going through changes.

“KiwiRail is in a transitional phase that will allow it to play a critical part in an integrated transport system that will deliver long term benefits for New Zealand,” he said.

New Zealand has made large funding commitments to rail infrastructure in the country, to increase rail’s share of both passenger and freight movements. In February, the government announced over $100 million in investment in Northland rail freight, this followed more than $200 million in funding for services in Wellington and Auckland.

“This is a watershed year for KiwiRail, as we start the transformation of our business. The Government has made a huge commitment to rail, and the investment that is being made in our network and in our rolling stock will position us well to meet the current and future demand of our customers,” said Miller.

Additionally, in the last year safety figures also improved, with the lowest number of collisions between vehicles and trains on record.

Work carried out in HY20 included the launch of the design for an intermodal freight hub in Palmerston North, work on double tracking the Hutt Valley Link, the arrival of 450 wagons as part of the rollingstock replacement project, and revitalisation of the Hillside workshops. KiwiRail has adopted the use of building information modelling (BIM) for horizontal construction for the first time, in the construction of the Trentham Underpass.

At the end of HY20, KiwiRail recorded a loss of $33.7m. Freight made up the bulk of the revenue, with $200.4m in revenue, while expenses included salaries and wages, materials and supplies, fuel and traction electricity, and incidents and insurance. Downturns in volumes were driven by market conditions in forestry and domestic markets, as well as flooding at Rangitata and a landslide causing a line closure at Omoto.

Using digital systems to cut project cost

If you thought that the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne were congested, spare a thought for the commuters of Kuala Lumpur. Ranked by the Asian Development Bank as the second most congested city in Asia, after Manilia, the region of Greater Kuala Lumpur is home to 7.25 million people, and is in the process of opening a three-line rapid mass transit system.

The first line, the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, opened in 2017 and the project team at MRT Corp wanted to take what they found in the process of constructing this line and apply it to the next two lines.

First is the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line, which is forecast to begin operating in July 2021.

One angle of improvement was time and cost certainty. Similar to other projects around the world, construction management was a key area, as the team identified the use of building information management (BIM) workflows as a way to improve this aspect of the project.

MRT Corp chose to adopt digital twins using Bentley solutions. This software enabled the project team to create and visualise its digital assets. From there, information on the status of elements of the construction process can be found, and the team can perform analysis and leverage insights through the system.

The BIM system from Bentley adopted by MRT Corp was able to leverage the projects Asset Information Management (AIM) system. This integrated documents, asset tags, equipment, maintenance class and frewquency, manufacturer’s name, and contact details, with the asset visualisation program.

This system will not only be of use during the construction phase of the project, but by having a Master Asset Register (MAR), operations and maintenance teams can easily access information on assets and equipment throughout the operational life of the railway.

“Going digital with Bentley, including our use of a digital twins approach, is helping MRT Corp to implement the business processes and systems it needs to spearhead the digital future of construction in Malaysia,” said Aswadi Yusof, BIM champion with MRT Corp.

During the construction phase of the project as asset data is introduced to the digital twin, assets can be visualised and located within the 3D model. This enables the project team to understand how this asset and equipment fits with other elements of the project. Bentley estimates that this will reduce the whole life cost of the railway.