Opinion

Investment in “BIM for infrastructure” saves costs at global level

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General contractors always see this friction of construction planning for immensely large infrastructure development projects and adhere to agreed cost plans. Usually what happens with large construction projects is that they are planned in advance and by the time actual construction work begins, the costs have risen, political influence has changed, local construction approval bodies have updated the policies and a number of other standards.

Although provisions are made for all of these during planning; reaching a consensus between all the project stakeholders remains a challenge somehow. Ultimately it all results in cost overruns. ‘Herald net’ quotes Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, who emphasizes on the method of optimum investment in infrastructure which can directly be dealt with by BIM. She says,   

“It’s also important to recognize that the way we build and deliver projects is as important as how much we invest.”

How is BIM positioned in the AEC industry?

Particularly for the transportation industry, infrastructure development means connecting federal government bodies, state transportation department, local transit authorities and agencies, and the professionals at the construction firm’s end. To optimize the spending budgets, BIM gives insights to the stakeholders with virtual design and construction [VDC] approach to abide by the cost budgets.

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BIM, in fact, goes beyond that. It provides a proper coherent and coordinated plan to schedule the construction that includes logistics for critical operations onsite. Efficient spending and cost saving is what taxpayers and project investors would want for smooth approvals from the government during bidding and tender approval stages. BIM manages these aspects through digital medium of a federal BIM model that is capable of generating accurate RFIs, construction documentation, coordinating and issuing work orders for interdisciplinary activities and much more. 

BIM positioning in terms of monetary factors

General contractors across the globe are implementing and exploring BIM services, owing to several areas of assistance that BIM offers. If we just look at the statistics for BIM implementation in the UK, their government is actively introducing policies that aim at saving up to 15% to 20% on all public construction projects. It is estimated that since 2009, when BIM was implemented for the first time, through 2015, they have saved approximately £900 million or a little around $1 Billion. (Source)

Going by aforementioned statistics, if developed economies such as the USA starts using BIM to the level at which their counterparts in the UK do, a $1 trillion dollar projects would bring the taxpayers a saving of $200 billion. This great gear shift to BIM will in fact not only bring monetary benefits but also better consultation and quality development of infrastructure that lasts for ages.

BIM for global development

There have been BIM awareness groups across several countries to spread awareness and educate AEC industry professionals and help them implement throughout their projects. What we often overlook is the fact that when BIM is implemented for developing infrastructure for a particular nation, it will show its cascading effect to their geographical nations as well.

European nations, for one, have a very strong network of roads and rail transport interconnecting multiple countries at once. The Channel Tube is a very popular rail network connecting the U.K., France, Belgium and hence the entire European network. On the other hand, in Northern America, there are several highly developed highway networks say in Puerto Rico. This interconnection of railways and roads network essentially brings nations to invest in them to make them sustainable over a longer period. 

BIM brings new heights of retrofitting

When even one of these nations starts investing in BIM their total spending will automatically be optimized. The funds so saved can be efficiently used for replacing the international ageing roads and rail network. Because even retrofitting of existing infrastructure will invite heavy investments and funding from external sources.

Assessing the structural health, creating structural and architectural plans for renovation, ordering construction material, managing the logistics is what all can be done efficiently with BIM. More importantly, BIM will help contractors and site engineers in planning an efficient construction scheduling that causes minimum waste and rework, which indirectly helps in reducing overall costs.

It can cumulatively be said that BIM when implemented for one project, will save and uplift other projects as well. Constant saving in budgets through properly managed projects, reduction in unnecessary waste, reworks, and efficient utilization of resources will eventually lead to robust development and maintenance of existing infrastructure. 

A wise man once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” But when we are saving millions, the earnings are even greater. Developing infrastructure is a costly business in transportation industry. Contractors leveraging BIM will require spending only the needful amount which will empower them to abide by their initially planned cost budgets.

Image Credit: autodesk.co.uk

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Hiral Patel

Hiral Patel is a news editor and has been contributing to the AEC industry since last 7 years. She mainly writes about the application of BIM across Architecture, MEP and Structural sectors. Her focus is towards encouraging construction companies, sub-contractors and architects to adopt right technologies to improve efficiency and profitability. Learn more

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