Modeling Meets Infrastructure Demands

As the population continues to increase across the globe, the demands being placed on infrastructure are growing. As such, not only does this infrastructure need to be updated, but many of the construction projects are complex, requiring the use of advanced modeling technologies.

Consider this example, the Victorian-era sewer system that empties into the tidal river Thames in London needs updating. The reason? A single pipe carries both sewage and stormwater runoff, which worked well in the past, but the combination of population growth and increased precipitation have resulted in greater runoffs.

To capture the overflow, shafts—six meters across and 60 meters deep—will be placed along the path of the tunnel that drop the flow down to the main tunnel. In addition to the inherent complexities of the tunnel such as it being one of the deepest in London, the team must also avoid other conduits while preventing ground settlement.

This is where 3D modeling and BIM (building information modeling) processes come into play. An infrastructure construction project of this magnitude more frequently needs to rely on modeling and easy access to project data to complete on time and on budget.

The $6.1 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel project is headed up by CH2M HILL, www.ch2m.com, Englewood, Colo., and includes more than 20 principal partners, along with 50 other companies engaged in the pre-planning phase.

Some of the primary objectives when looking for technologies for this project include the need to facilitate collaboration with subs and predict costs early. The project team decided to use a combination of technologies from Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa., including ProjectWise for collaboration on models and drawings for planning processes based on BS 1192.

BS 1192 is a U.K. standard for how construction information should be produced and distributed. This construction team is addressing BS 1192 by using the new ProjectWise Business Process Template, which incorporates the standard processes and naming conventions.

Additionally, the team is integrating the models with other software such as GIS (geographic information systems) to monitor environmental impacts and structural analysis to identify reinforcement issues. With the system, the team can provide required information to project decisionmakers and publish both Web-based document sets and paper construction documents.

On a project of this scale if the team had put in the resources required to manually manage all this information, the cost would have probably been roughly 10 times that of the technology, estimates Simon Williams-Gunn, engineering systems lead on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project.

As greater demands are placed on infrastructure across the globe, construction teams will be faced with the need to implement technology to deliver projects as efficiently as possible.