Highways England (HE) is rolling out a programme of ‘smart motorways’ across the UK to improve capacity and journey time reliability on the strategic road network. It provides contractors with an asset data management manual that outlines all of the requirements for how it wishes to receive the data about the assets once the roads are completed, this contains different databases for different areas of the build, such as drainage, ditches and signage.

Data Management

“Kier wants to operate in as an efficient and standardised way as possible across all of its Smart Motorways contracts,” says Dylan Austin, BIM Technician on the M20. Therefore, the team has configured its schedules within BIMXtra to match the HE requirements. This means that, at the end of the project, it makes it much easier to export the data in the format required.

Jacob Atkins Joint Venture (JAJV) is the design partner on this project. The collaboration and communication with them has been made easier because they have a BIM representative on site. If either team comes across any issues with the project information, they can get them resolved very quickly and easily. Dylan adds, “What’s great about BIMXtra is that it highlights any issues with the data for us once we’ve input it – it finds Technical Queries (TQs) for us, and with the JAJV representative in the office, they can be resolved easily.”

Another benefit of Kier being so closely involved in looking at the project data is that it’s able to work with the Highways England Commercial and Project Management teams to ensure that they are all on top of the expectations and deliverables. As Stacey Clifford, BIM Manager, Kier, adds, “You can’t deliver the client’s data requirements just by using the 3D models, you need easy access to that data in it’s raw format in the database and that’s what BIMXtra gives us.”


Document Management

The majority of users on site are using the Clearbox Document Management System, the DMS, and the Document Controller, Joanne Snell, has been instrumental in training them up and ensuring they know they’re responsible for naming, uploading and distributing documents correctly through the system. She comments, “We’ll show you how to do it, train you and always support you but, in the end, you have to be responsible. It’s the same as people being individually responsible for Health and 

Safety, they must be responsible for managing their documents. Just because we have a filing system that has BIM on the front of it, doesn’t mean the BIM team should be responsible – it’s about making everyone more efficient. It’s great because, for the commercial teams, there’s a full audit trail of what we issued, when, the transmittal numbers and the project management instructions – all distributed through the system and when HE come to audit us, which they do, it’s all there for them to see.”

Out on site

The next largest area of use on the system is Onsite. All of the engineers do their site diaries through the system and all of their quality checks so that everything is recorded and filed in the database. Some members of the quality team have been trained up as superusers on the system. This means that a quality person is telling people how to do quality processes, rather than a BIM person, so there is better buy in – a team used to working with paper and pen is being trained to do things digitally. Every new person is trained in how to use digital check sheets, non-conformance reports forms, materials approval requests – this is usually a desk-based task, but they’re issued with an iPad and they can capture information while they’re out on site or back in the office if they choose.

“Everybody likes hard copies but once they see the benefits of the iPads being quicker and giving them more control and more time then they soon come around. They also like carrying less paper and it’s much easier to find things – plus you can zoom in on an iPad but it’s hard to manage a large plan on paper out on site.” Said Zsolt Nemeth, Senior Section Engineer.

“What’s also great is you can easily run reports to make sure everyone is doing the tasks they’re meant to be doing and keep on top of activity. Plus, subcontractors have access to their own areas of BIMXtra, so they can also see any check sheets they need to complete. It means everyone can plan where they need to go and download what they want in case there’s poor signal out on site and synchronise it to BIMXtra when the signal comes back.”

Igor Sasin is part of the Design Management Team and is responsible for looking at design issues and clashes. HE uses another system to raise its TQs but as the default system on the project is BIMXtra, Igor uses it first before reporting back to HE. This is because all of the site team has access to it and you can distribute issues to the relevant people rather than notifying all of the users within the HE system.

One area where BIMXtra has been very useful is when the team was looking at whether it was possible to do the preferred method of directional drilling everywhere. Igor used the model in Insight to show the location and any neighbouring structures. “I used Insight rather than photographic solutions like Google Earth as they can’t show what is going to be there in the future. We had to use the model. We could then see where we’d have to do open cut and justify this to the client.”

“Another benefit of Insight was being able to highlight safety hazards to the team. Yellow triangles on the model show them clearly and by clicking into them you can see the designer’s risk register of what they were – existing cables, falls from heights etc. We also found lots of clashes in the models which we highlighted and, when the site teams went out to check these clashes, it proved the model was correct, so then the teams verified them with photographs and sent them back using the comms tool. We use the comms tool to raise Notifications for Inspection – and then we know they’ve been raised and can see when the need to be completed by, and by whom. It shows up in people’s calendars and emails, so they have no excuses. We also used the measure tool to work out which environmental barriers were on cut embankments, fill embankments or flat on the verge. Even though the lengths were on the schedule from the design partners they didn’t specify the embankments so, instead of spending lots of time on site measuring, we were able to just use the model and it proved accurate.”

The Quantity Surveying (QS) team is also using the system and it’s saving them massive amounts of time. “Working out the site clearance we needed to undertake on various signage took two people three days on paper, matching all of the signs up correctly. Once we knew we could use the 3D model it took one of us 30 mins – whilst it was a pain to realise after we’d done it manually, it validated the accuracy of the digital records and model,” said Rizwan Asghar, Graduate QS, Kier.

“Not to mention, all of our subcontractors are on BIMXtra, along with their works information, so they all have access and can see their documentation and we can see the progress and what’s been signed when,” he added.

The Quantity Surveyor, Daniel Parry, and his team use BIMXtra every day, “It’s important – if we’re proposing to move or change something we can look at the model and see what’s possible – it’s a lot easier than travelling a few miles on site. It’s also great for proving what work has been completed.”

What about the client?

And finally, HE’s project manager, Kaluba Kampandila, is impressed, “The outputs are critical as I handover the asset to the operations side of the business and it’s all there in one place. It’s captured out in the field on a tablet, date and time stamped – all as it happens.”