The use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the consulting engineering industry is continuously evolving.
Information rich software now drives modelling building designs, whereas not long ago, it was considered as a mere tool to produce drawings. It now forms an integral part of project and construction management.
Carel van Niekerk, Technologist: Engineering Management, WSP in Africa, explained: “Modelling building designs is only a small part of what the software can do. It is also a completely paperless, cloud-based project management system including design, making it an extremely powerful tool to improve site management and the overall construction process.”
What makes this latest software so valuable is that it allows engineers to keep track of exactly what is happening on a project, from easier peer review and sign-off of designs to easy access to information regarding progress and challenges experienced on any given project.
Effectively using available technology, the innovation ensures a complete audit trail of any engineering project, decreases cybersecurity risks and protects client information and projects teams’ intellectual property. This is particularly valuable with the rise of hybrid working. Whether working from home, in the office, or on site, sometimes in remote or underserviced parts of the African continent, projects teams can access and add to projects in the cloud, so that the entire project team is always working with up-to-date designs and data.
This digital transformation journey has come about by been adopting AutoDesk Construction Cloud (formerly known as BIM 360) to its fullest extent so that its benefits can be delivered to the engineering team, the construction team and most importantly, the client.
This breakthrough allows capabilities such as Digital Twins to become a reality. Mapping an information-rich digital model against the project under construction, as well as each step of the construction process, from ordering correct material quantities to monitoring progress and quality on site, is now possible.
Digital Twins all the Rage
Digital twins (* see below) are the new buzz words in the engineering and construction space, bringing with it greater insight into the project lifecycle, the ability to optimise and improve workflows, manage the supply chain from end-to-end and manage quality while being able to spot any errors before they occur.
Van Niekerk says that digitally transforming the approach to engineering design and project management enables better collaboration, better communication, better document management, better version control and better project management. “It means engineering teams and modellers have to do a lot less reworking and are able to provide feedback to each other and to clients quicker. Site inspections and progress reports become a lot more efficient, too. Engineers can use their phones during site visits and by the time they get back to the office, problems are already being addressed.
It is not only engineers who have to approach their work a little differently these days, but as digital skills required of them change and develop to respond to a digitally-led way of doing things, the role of modellers in the design process is changing as well. The ability to perform detailed design annotation and tagging is required of modellers if these two roles are to continue to support one another in the design process.
New innovative technology has the power to enable engineers to deliver quality, accurate designs and manage the construction process so that projects are delivered on time and on budget, every time.
A digital twin is a near-real-time digital copy of a product, process, service or system. The coupling of the physical and digital world enables you to monitor both systems, prevent issues, develop new opportunities and simulate future outcomes.