Integrating BIM and GIS for full lifecycle civil construction projects

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December 15, 2014 by Geoff Zeiss

At the first GeoBIM conference in Amsterdam, Jothijs van Gaalen gave some real world examples of highway construction transformation including GIS+BIM integration including using laser scanning/LiDAR for reality capture at the beginning of a design/construction project. 

Jothijs is Manager of the (civil) BIM Programme and Head of the Structural Modelling department at the Royal BAM Group nv / BAM Infraconsult.  The Royal BAM Group nv is a large infrastructure engineering consulting firm with 23,500 employees operating in over 40 countries, primarily in Europe.  Its goal is to be among the top 10 companies in its market segment.  To achieve this is has targetted supply chain integration focused on a sustainable built environment.  One of the key areas of integration in GIS+BIM.  BAM has BIM/GIS modelling departments in Amsterdam, The Hague, Gouda, Singapore, and Jakarta.

Full lifecycle construction projects

BAM's motivation for investing in BIM+GIS are market developments especially more complex construction assignments and an increasing demand from customers for service provision throughout the entire life cycle of a project.  The other major drivers are internal business needs especially being able to control safety, quality, costs, planning, and sustainability through the lifetime of a project. 

A project at BAM starts with 2D geographic data that is visualized through a GIS web portal. The web portal gives everyone on the team an early perspective on the project site including underground utilities and aboveground structures before design begins.  During the tender process the geospatial data is combined with 3D data including 3D representations of nearby natural and man-made features as well as proposed designs to create a 3D environment for assessing alternative designs.  The 3D environment improves collaboration among the team members as well as enabling better communication with the client through 3D visualization of proposed designs. After award, the first step is conducting LiDAR scans of the site/proposed route.  At completion of construction, the data collected during design and construction is migrated to an integrated GIS + asset management system system to support maintenance activities. 

Level of development (LoD) is critical for full lifecycle construction projects at BAM because it specifies the level of detail for both graphical and non-graphical data that is required at each phase of a project's lifetime; roughly tender (LOD100), design (LOD200), construction (LOD300), and  operate and maintain (LOD400).  

Design, Build, Finance and Maintain project

The N33 highway project in the Netherlands is an example of a Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) project. In a DBFM contract, the contractor is not only fully responsible for designing and building the project, but also handles the administration and all maintenance. In a DBFM contract the government buys a service: the provision of an available national road.  BAM is responsible for design and construction,  which occurred during 2012 – 2014, and for 20 years of maintenance.

During design and construction BAM used a BIM for Infrastructure process based around a geospatially-enabled database.  At completion of construction, the data collected during design and construction was migrated to an integrated GIS + Maximo system designed to support maintenance activities during the 20 year period that BAM is responsible for highway maintenance.  Maximo is IBM's enterprise asset management (EAM) software product.

Best practices

Jothijs discussed some of the best practices that BAM has developed during the N33 and other projects.  These include integrated BIM + GIS with time (4D), and financial (5D), training of multi-disciplinary teams, standardizing LoD for graphical and non-graphical data and involving suppliers as early as possible in the project. 

The one that really struck me as potentially transformational is BAM's recommendation to collect accurate geometrical data (reality capture) at the beginning of the project, before design, using laser scanning.  Since laser scanning is not normally part of a surveyor's skill set, I was interested in who was responsible for conducting  the scans and how BAM's surveyors were involved.  Jothijs said that BAM's survey group performed the laser scanning as well as traditional surveys.  This sounds like the result of another of BAM's best practices, training multi-disciplinary teams.

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