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BIM (Building Information Modelling)

The time has come for the construction sector to reform by seizing the opportunities offered by the Digital Economy. Our citizens and assets are becoming ever more complex, the demands on finite resources more challenging and the need to look overseas for growth and opportunity has never been more pressing.  The Digital Built Britain strategy builds on the achievements of the Level 2 BIM programme. This has allowed projects such as Cross Rail, the 2012 Olympics, Cookham Wood Prison and a whole host of other projects to refine our approach, deliver the standards, methods and tools and demonstrate that significant learning and savings can be made through the use of digital technologies such as BIM.  The UK has the potential to lead one of the defining developments of the 21st century, which will enable the country to capture not only all of the inherent value in our built assets, but also the data to create a digital and smart city economy to transform the lives of all.  This strategy represents the outcomes and recommendations for the next stage of the Building Information Modelling journey.

This Digital Built Britain strategy takes the next step in integrating these technologies, transforming our approaches to infrastructure development and construction and consolidating the UK’s position as a world leader in these sectors to make fully computerized construction the norm and ensure that the benefits of these technologies are felt across the UK and support the export of these technologies and the services based on them.  The convergence of these three opportunities has led to a unique position; we now have the understanding as to how technology can transform both our lives and the world we live in. The development of this Level 3 Strategy, which will be known as “Digital Built Britain” (DBB), will encompass the cross sector collaboration and thinking described above whilst taking the opportunity to rethink how we procure, deliver and operate our built environment going forward to ensure we meet our fiscal, functional, sustainability and growth objectives.

With Digital Built Britain in place the revolution can continue apace and we will stand more than ready to meet the challenges of urbanisation and globalisation that the UK faces. The vision of the Digital Built Britain strategy creates the opportunity to disrupt the current approach to designing and procuring infrastructure projects by providing a platform through which a wide range of suppliers (including SME’s) and other stakeholders can be engaged in finding the best informed lifecycle solutions to infrastructure problems and in them being in a position to bid to supply solutions.  Improving technical solutions and reducing costs by challenging the existing roles of consultants, contractors and suppliers, developing new business models for infrastructure and asset design, delivery, operation and adaptation, based on wider use of service performance data.  Protecting national security, we must ensure that in increasing the availability of data, we put in place or build into design of any BIM project and its ongoing management, security measures and protocols such that threats may be deterred, detected, or the consequences of an attack minimised – Digital Built Britain Level 3 Building Information Modelling – Strategic Plan 

“Rapid advances in digital engineering are revolutionising construction. But Building Information Modelling (BIM) is about more than creating models. It is about unlocking knowledge and insight, creating the platform for more efficient and sustainable solutions. At Laing O’Rourke we’re taking BIM beyond the traditional geometrical and asset data approach to include time and cost dimensions, offering unparalleled benefits to clients and end-users over the lifetime of buildings and infrastructure.
Critical to our innovative Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) approach, BIM is helping to drive a step-change in the increased productivity of the construction process, tangible quality improvements in the end product and the associated reduction in true costs. It promotes greater collaboration and more informed decision-making within unified delivery teams, while allowing the supply chain to see beyond their own activities to a more holistic view of the client’s objectives. Equally important, BIM also acts as a valuable communication tool by bringing the project to life in a virtual world for clients and the workforce.
Fundamental to achieving success is having the right blend of technical and cultural platforms. Laing O’Rourke is realising this through extensive training of forward-thinking engineering and construction leaders to embed BIM and DFMA across our culture. At the same time, delivery teams – both on-site in our projects and off-site in our Manufacturing facilities – are driving BIM into core business processes. This de-risking enables us to innovate for the benefit of clients, maximising the value of the asset over its lifetime.
We are determined to use the momentum around BIM-enabled DfMA to effect an innovative and radical transformation of our industry, helping to create exciting new career opportunities to attract the next generation of engineering and construction talent. I firmly believe that through BIM and DfMA the industry will become more integrated and productive at every stage of delivery – from design to construction and, ultimately, in operation. It is ‘challenge and change’ at its most visionary.”
Ray O’Rourke KBE, Chairman, Laing O’Rourke

Digital Twins

A digital twin is a physical asset linked to a digital replica of that asset using sensors. Digital twins serve as a live digital representation of a physical entity and can function as vital problem-solvers, needed to enhance asset performance, influence future building design, and ultimately reduce risk.  The term was coined in the manufacturing arena back in 2003, but the concept goes back to the 1960s and 70s when Nasa was using “mirroring systems” to predict faults in astronauts’ equipment.  The system can be used to evaluate how the building is performing in real-time, which enables facilities management to tweak performance to optimise efficiency. The data can also be used by architects, engineers and consultants to improve the design of future buildings.  If we connect different buildings and infrastructure together, we have the means to create smart cities where designers and masterplanners simulate different scenarios such as the impact of a new building on traffic flows or water and power supply and assess the efficiency/suitability of a design.  Digital twins can also have the potential to prevent serious accidents by monitoring assets to predict potential failures. Some existing infrastructure, including bridges and tunnels, have sensors already embedded, so using 3D scanners we can create a virtual replica that displays the real-time data to predict maintenance issues or damage. This type of approach could prevent another Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Brian Robins,VP, Product and Industry Marketing at Bentley Systems, Inc. discusses digital twins and their advancement beyond BIM

Over the next 12 to 18 months, digital twins will take center stage, advancing rapidly beyond building information modeling (BIM), enabling asset-centric organizations to converge their engineering technologies, operational technologies, and information technologies into a portal or augmented/immersive experiences. This has become possible due to the confluence of 3D visualization, reality modeling, mixed reality (AR/VR), and geotechnical engineering, providing an immersive and integrated view of infrastructure assets below ground, on the surface, and above ground. The result will be better informed decisions to improve network/service availability, enhance passenger and worker safety, ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce environmental impact.

Digital TwinsDigital twins will span the entire asset lifecycle. For CapEx projects, project digital twins will provide a risk-free way of simulating construction, logistics, and fabrication sequences with the supply chain, as well as optimizing design for passenger flows and enabling stakeholders to visualize emergency evacuations and resilience against flooding and/or extreme weather conditions. For OpEx, performance digital twins will truly become the organization’s 3D/4D operating system, combining data from continuous surveys, photogrammetry, LiDAR and sensors, and tracking changes to assets on a timeline, enabling those responsible for asset management to roll the digital representation of the infrastructure asset and related real-world conditions forward or backward in time.

With the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), we envisage immersive digital operations, providing analytics visibility and insights to enhance the effectiveness of operations staff and help them anticipate and head off issues before they arise and react more quickly with confidence. With the application of drones, robots, and AI-based computer vision, we envisage the automation of inspection tasks via a living digital twin, enabling experts to conduct inspections remotely, vastly increasing productivity and leveraging the knowledge of scarce resources.

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