The AEC industry is moving toward embracing a collaborative environment. It is crucial that owners, designers, engineers, and fabricators have simultaneous and real-time access to design models and project data.
AEC business leaders are advocating for Building Information Modeling (BIM) as the future of infrastructure projects worldwide.
Adopting BIM technologies into the civil design process will enable stakeholders to instantly collaborate with each other on an integrated design platform. BIM can provide for digital sharing and collaborating of models, instead of individually working from drawings.
As the global population continues to rise, worldwide spending on civil engineering projects is expected to grow. Emerging markets such as China, the Middle East, and Latin America will be looking to facilitate rapid increases in infrastructure projects quickly and cost-effectively.
To keep pace, civil engineering and infrastructure professionals will need to address industry challenges, such as managing costs and schedules, reducing waste, and improving efficiency.
One key reason for inefficiency in AEC infrastructure projects is fragmentation. An integrated, collaborative environment would eliminate fragmentation, address business challenges, achieve higher quality, and improve efficiency.
Some of the big changes in the AEC Industry are being pushed by A. Zahner Company, an engineering and fabrication company based in Kansas City, Missouri.
In January 2016, we met with Zahner representative Ed Huels, Director of IT / VDC Services, to learn how the company is responding to the challenges that face the AEC industry.
Edward Huels, Director of VDC service, A.ZAHNER COMPANY
Zahner has a long history in the sheet metal fabrication industry, dating back to 1897 when it was founded by Andrew Zahner. The company went through several transformations, producing a variety of standard sheet metal applications.
In the 1980’s, L. William Zahner, took the reins as the fourth-generation great-grandson of the family business. The company moved beyond producing standard systems to exploring architecture as art, just as the design world was beginning to explore new technology-based design solutions.
World-leading, innovative technology is being used successfully to make the aerospace and other manufacturing industries more responsive to demand, dynamic in development and increasingly efficient in delivery. I would argue that the construction industry is crying out for this innovation to drive efficiency, generate sustainability, improve safety and reduce waste.
The techniques of Building Information Modeling (BIM), being applied in some areas of the industry, take us part-way but the full value has yet to be realized.
The technology used by the aerospace industry embraces the full spectrum: from initial design, detailed 3D digital mock-ups, to testing and proving in the virtual digital world. The 3D model is reviewed, revised, redesigned and tested to destruction without injury or damage.
The same platform of collaborative data then tracks materials requirements and the manufacturing process, following the aircraft from assembly to sale and delivery. It integrates data across the lifecycle of the program, to generate efficiency, reduce cost, cut waste, increase sustainability, improve safety and create value.
In this webinar, you will observe interactions between a general contractor and a subcontractor, facilitated by Optimized Construction on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
When the subcontractor shares a 3D model with the general contractor, it’s a smooth exchange. Multiple project contributors may be employed by different organizations and still work together seamlessly within a single environment.
In the Design-Review process, the subcontractor reviews and validates an installation, and makes a suggestion to enhance the work instructions.
An interactive Work Breakdown Structure enables the general contractor to segregate project tasks by type, and delegate each task to the appropriate worker. The status of each task is tracked within the 3D model.
Dashboards offer various views, including a Phase Gate view and an Issue Summary view, for the general contractor to manage the project using integrated project plans.
The reconstruction of the Yanggao South Road covered the area between the current Century Highway and the Pujian Road cross-route bridge, and measures a total of 1.95km (1.2 mi).
The road, tunnel structure, Zhangjiabin Bridge, rain sewage pipeline, traffic sign and lines, signal lights, ventilation, monitoring system, power transmission and distribution, architecture, greening, and related equipment—as well as the initial greening and pipeline relocation—cost RMB ¥1.455 Billion in construction and installation, with the total investment amounting to RMB ¥2.47 Billion [USD $386 Million].
The Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform version R2015x was selected as the BIM platform for the entire process. SMEDI realized the following benefits by adopting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform:
SMEDI is particularly strong in designing bridges, having designed almost all the major bridges in Shanghai. Of course, SMEDI’s work goes way beyond the city of Shanghai. One notable example is the Ganjiang Second Bridge in Jiangxi Province, which has a “fish-like” design that fits very well within the surrounding landscape.
The complex structure of the bridge comprises of a steel upper part, a concrete lower structure and in the middle, a mixed concrete and steel section.
The Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (SMEDI), one of China’s top municipal engineering companies, has completed 12,000 projects including water treatment plants, as well as road, bridge, rail, urban landscape, fuel gas and geotechnical engineering projects.
Compass spoke with Lv Wei Zhang, association chief engineer in SMEDI’s IT Center, and Junwei Wu, deputy director of SMEDI’s BIM Center, about their work to develop IT solutions for civil engineering’s unique challenges.
COMPASS: What challenges are SMEDI facing in executing its work?
LV WEI ZHANG: In China, it is common for major infrastructure projects to be carried out with design and construction happening in parallel. Typically, only 50% of the project is designed when construction begins. During construction, owners are able to plan the rest of the project with greater precision. So they modify their design as the project evolves. This is one of the ways to adjust projects.
Despite these benefits, there are challenges in adopting BIM.
One major obstacle is that it involves changing people’s habits, often needing to overcome a significant degree of resistance.
When new ways of working are proposed within a corporation, this can result in internal clashes or even paralysis while processes are reconfigured. Bottlenecks can also occur while designs are being refined and assessed.