As it is reaching its maturity, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is becoming increasingly valuable for a wide range of potential applications. Construction, visualization, and healthcare modeling opportunities are just some of the many areas successfully using the concept, and the possibilities don’t end there. In fact, infrastructure can benefit significantly from BIM in the planning, design, and implementation stages.
The Benefits of Complex Modeling
Perhaps the single biggest advantage of BIM is its complexity. Unlike previous modeling opportunities, it allows anyone planning a construction or infrastructure project to feed a variety of variables into a singular system in order to build a comprehensive model.
That resulting model, in turn, can act as the guiding agent on the entirety of the building process, from first concept and presentation to final implementation planning and construction. The complexity of any major infrastructure project has long needed a system that allowed it to rely on a singular model for that entire project. Building information modeling finally turns that goal into a reality.
That’s because at its core, the outcome of BIM is more than just a 3D model. Instead, it is a data-rich object that, thanks to the wide range of variables included, is intelligent, knowledge-based, scalable, and visual. As Autodesk points out,
BIM (for infrastructure) is a process that uses the intelligent model to facilitate coordination, communication, analysis and simulation, project management and collaboration, and even asset management, maintenance and operations.
Potential Applications for BIM in Infrastructure
As a result of the unique overlap between the possibilities of BIM and the complexity of infrastructure planning, we are beginning to see a number of case studies in which the concept has been used successfully. Some of these case studies include:
The Crossrail Project in London, England
European readers might have heard about Crossrail, a new British high speed trained deemed by many as the continent’s biggest civil engineering project. The challenge was guiding the train through London, a city with one of the most complex infrastructure gridlines in the world.
Building information modeling made it possible. Despite a wide range of engineering and project management challenges, the final outcome (two 21 kilometer-long tunnels under London along with 40 upgraded or new stations) was a full success. The key was not just defining a digital model of what that would look like, but adding variables such as permits, maintenance schedules, related outages, and much more.
That’s where BIM entered the equation. The integration of spatial data was existential in guiding a new tunnel through a city that already possesses a large range of them. Finally, temporal data helped plan a project that was completed successfully in 2015.
New Buildings at the Shanghai World Expo Site
By all accounts, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai was a massive success in celebrating Chinese culture and inviting visitors from around the globe to the far East. But what happens to a massive space like the one used in this event after its completion?
City government officials had a plan. They envisioned a development area rich with commercial buildings, public spaces, and recreational areas. Beyond that, an ambitious timeline of 4 years start to finish caused many experts to worry about feasibility.
Again, BIM proved to be the perfect match for the challenge. In fact, this BIM-guided infrastructure project won an AEC excellence award last year for its success. In just two years, the design was completed and all variables were calculated into the model. Two additional years later, construction was finished. That included an integrated plan for safe evacuation routes and energy efficiency, made possible through the variable data fed into the BIM model.
Riviera Beach Roadway Design
Like many smaller cities in the United States, Riviera Beach struggles with infrastructure. That was especially clear for a 1,340 -foot stretch on 34th street, which was in dire need of an overhaul. Unfortunately, the city’s two employees charged with capital improvement projects were overworked, and hesitant to plan this and other infrastructure projects.