BIMXtra: ‘As easy as ordering a pizza on your phone’
At last week’s National Rail Awards, Kier scooped ‘Civil Engineering Achievement of the Year’ for its work on Chelsea Rail Bridge.
The project is a prime example of how engaging properly with digital construction can transform traditional processes to make them more efficient, accurate and cost-effective.
For some time now, we’ve been advocating the move to digital-based construction. Not solely because of the Government’s BIM requirements, but also because we believe the construction industry needs to better embrace new technology in order to realise the benefits. With the revolution in Big Data, there is no reason why the construction industry can’t capitalise to make itself smarter and better able to predict, in order to streamline its capabilities and avoid unnecessary waste.
However, we are always facing challenges about the seismic shift in culture that the industry will have to make, the difficulties in picking up new processes that could slow projects down, not to mention the expense of initial investment, and the plethora of technology tools that change a manual process into an electronic process instead of really embracing digital workflows.
However, we truly believe that it will not only simplify processes for users, but also provide a constant, consistent, 360 degree view of a project and enable more efficient use of people’s time.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than at a project we worked on at Chelsea River Bridge. The bridge was being surveyed for refurbishment and the team running it was looking for an intelligent solution to make the engineers more accurate and effective in their data gathering, so spoke to us about our BIMXtra product.
Whilst the BIMXtra system was developed and to establish a benchmark, spans 1 and 2 were surveyed using traditional paper-based methods. It took two engineers three weeks to record data, go back to the office to forward on the required information as well as enter it manually into spreadsheets to manage the process. After the first span, the team had identified that it would need another 8 heads to complete the work on time.
In BIMXtra, historical 2D drawings were drafted into a 3D model, containing some 7,900 uniquely identified structure elements. 2D views from the model were loaded to OnSite, our mobile application, so that individual elements could be selected to allow site survey work to be recorded against each element.
When they got to Span 3 the team used both methods as comparison. Using BIMXtra, it took two engineers just 4 days to complete the survey of the span. Data was recorded and stored within BIMXtra, ensuring consolidated information could be retrieved by multiple users, either on site or in the office. With the digital process signed off as fully functional, it at least halved the length of time to process the remaining spans.
Thereafter this became the sole methodology and using BIMXtra achieved a saving of 21 programme days and an ROI of 30 times what they invested.
With the tangible benefits clear to see, the team ceased using the old method. But, the more intangible benefits also convinced them that the software was worth its weight in gold.
“BIMXtra allowed us to be much more efficient,” commented Ryan Blunt, civil engineer, Kier Group, “Our engineers could concentrate on the intricate detail, meaning the client received the best possible survey, with all the information they needed on their asset.”
Every site action created synchronises with the construction summary page within BIMXtra. Thereafter, any further actions such as proposed design solutions, executions of works and sign-offs are logged against these initial uploads and recorded, monitored and managed efficiently.
The speed of availability of the information means that it can be quickly and easily circulated to suppliers, sub-contractors and steel work specialists. It also meant that the client could access the information and sign off the work when it was complete, either onsite or at the office. Kier’s senior project manager, Colin Barnes, said, “Everything flows easier, everyone gets the information they need. It saves a lot of time. I think it’s the best tool we’re going to have to manage delivery of the project.”
So, not only has it saved money, the use of BIMXtra has improved the overall accountability of a process previously executed using more traditional manual and paper based activities. But, what about the challenge surrounding ease of use and a complete change of culture for the construction industry? Well, yes it is. However, this was summed up nicely by Ryan, “It’s as easy to use as ordering pizza on your phone.”