As engineering firms move toward developing a digital strategy, a new phrase that will resonate with engineering, architectural, and construction professionals, as well as infrastructure asset owners, is now part of the infrastructure lexicon. “Going digital” refers to the business journey being realized as infrastructure professionals take advantage of a connected data environment by leveraging a cloud computing platform, digitally connecting and converging people, processes, data, and technology to yield significant benefits. Firms are looking to new digital strategies to better contribute to the infrastructure lifecycle. Various industry analysts and management consulting firms have looked at digital adoption within the construction industry and found areas for improvement. For project-delivery firms, “going digital” is an opportunity to improve capital projects, but also to deliver new value in areas previously unavailable.
In 2016, McKinsey reported that the construction industry significantly lags in its “Imagining Constructions Digital Future” report for productivity, despite accounting for 13% of GDP. This lag in productivity is estimated to be $1.6 trillion of additional value that could be created through higher productivity, which would meet half the world’s infrastructure need. To meet this productivity opportunity, McKinsey prescribes five steps for construction firms to become digital firms: 1) higher-definition surveying and geolocation; 2) next-generation 5D BIM (building information modeling); 3) digital collaboration and mobility; 4) the Internet of Things and advanced analytics; 5) future-proof design and construction.
Construction is by no means the only industry slow to digital adoption, but it is perhaps the one with the most potential. It is also being applied to smart-city initiatives, which are eagerly adopting digital workflows to deliver mega projects with multi-discipline design challenges and information mobility concerns. As a provider of software, we see the challenges our users face, and breaking down the issues with data alignment and interoperability can significantly improve infrastructure projects delivery and asset performance.
Here are five firms that have addressed these key prescriptions by using Bentley technology.
Higher-definition surveying and geolocation
The Leighton-Chun Wo Joint Venture was responsible for the $1.08 billion, 90,000-square-meter passenger bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macao. With BIM review technology, more than 3,000 clashes were solved before, and during, construction. Reality modeling technology was employed to continuously monitor and survey ongoing progress. To avoid discrepancies, the survey team compared the 3D-design models with point cloud models on a continuous basis, creating accurate as-built models.
Next-generation 5D building information modeling
The Sabah State Administrative Centre in Malaysia commissioned a complex comprising of one 33-story office tower and 9-story office building in this MYR (Malaysian Ringgit Rate) 388.7 million project. Bin Puri Sdn. Bhd implemented BIM advancements to visualize and coordinate the buildings’ elements through an integrated design and construction effort. Models were prepared for 5D construction planning to aid the site surveyor and accurately map the project.
Digital collaboration and mobility
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a GBP (British Pound) 4 billion design-build project to resolve the problem of overflow from London’s Victorian-era sewers. Mott MacDonald is the lead designer for this project. The team uses a connected data environment to connect more than 15 locations throughout Europe to better manage design work packages. Digital workflows enabled better design and document delivery.
The Internet of Things and advanced analytics
Danish-based Danfoss introduced its Smart Store Solution to allow customers to remotely monitor and control operations at more than 5,000 locations. The solution would ensure a 24/7 system running mode without asset failure, unplanned downtime, or escalating energy costs. The operational analytics platform provided realtime data for proactive operations and maintenance, which included temperature reporting to ensure refrigeration units operate within set parameters, saving energy without compromising food safety.
Future-proof design and construction
Shell’s pioneering FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) facility, Prelude FLNG, has been deployed hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Australia. With decks measuring 488-by-74 meters, the facility is comprised of sections fabricated at multiple yards and brought to Geoje, South Korea, for final assembly. Construction management tools were employed to visually plan and execute work safely by delivering work packages through early pre-fabricated processes.
While the construction industry still lags in digitalizing its processes, there are clearly areas of improvement. A focus on digital workflows, digital components, and digital context is helping contractors, their supply chain, and owners improve visibility into project delivery and the ongoing asset performance. As the industry continues its “going digital” journey, more examples will change not only the perception, but also the reality of digital project delivery.
Aidan Mercer joined Bentley in 2010 and is currently industry marketing director for AEC.