Setting the Scene

Infrastructure Construction Projects are large-scale Projects masterminded and executed with the objective to improve social living conditions, executed under EPC, BOT, PPP or any other similar Contract of Public Works and designed, constructed and maintained with a long operational life expectancy, usually called Civil Works.

These projects are mainly Public Projects, funded by national budgets (public money) and/or Private investing initiatives, announced as National or International Tenders and upon concluding the Bidding Process executed by Engineering and Construction Companies, supervised by Public and Private Professional Engineering services Organizations.

These Projects are mainly:

  1. Highways, Streets, and Roads
  2. Bridges
  3. Mass Transit, Airports, and Airways
  4. Harbors and Coastal
  5. Water Supply and Resources
  6. Waste Management and Waste Water Management
  7. Power Generation and Transmission.
  8. Telecommunications.
  9. Hazardous Waste Removal and Storage
  10. Renewable Energy

Based on the Wikipedia:

·      Civil engineering is: a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways.

·      Architectural engineering, also known as building engineering or architecture engineering, is a discipline that deals with the technological aspects and multi-disciplinary approach to planning, design, construction and operation of buildings, such as analysis and integrated design of environmental systems (energy conservation, HVAC, lighting, acoustics, vertical and horizontal transportation), structural systems, behavior and properties of building components and materials, and construction management.

What is BIM?

Based on the Wikipedia:

The US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee has the following definition:

“ Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

Traditional building design was largely reliant upon two-dimensional technical drawings (plans, elevations, sections, etc). Building information modeling extends this beyond 3D, augmenting the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and depth) with time as the fourth dimension (4D)[20] and cost as the fifth (5D)”

BIM for NO Buildings

Whereas the usage of a BIM system provides an undisputable added value for Architectural and Building facilities, the same cannot be justified by the nature of Civil Works Projects.

As an example, a BIM applied to a highway construction is like a 3d Modeling on steroidswhere visualizations of structures and roadworks -as mockups- are more important to investors rather than engineers.   

In terms of foundation engineering/pilling, layers of materials and quantities have no meaning and cannot be standardized as mainly associate to underground works where geotechnical evidence vary significantly from side to side. Same can be said for several other types of works including tunnels, dams, embankments, cut and covers, etc.

While for engineering designers the application of Computer Aided Design such as: finite element analysis and structural engineering is essential for complex calculations and can produce BIM analytical designs the same cannot be said for BIM in Construction, where a geospatial software is more important than a typical BIM model and where the 4D – 5D concept cannot be applied to real works on site.

It is imperative for any Civil Engineer professional to understand plans, sections, topographical maps and structural drawings and to construct onsite by applying these designs and doing the necessary changes when required.

As Civil Engineering is not about assembling but rather building … a ‘Building’ Information Modeling System can have a limited added value to most Civil Works except Architectural Engineering for Buildings and can be possibly only utilized to As-Built Drawings. 

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