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Creating modelling solutions

New BIM tools for complex projects

Experienced engineers and architects frequently use Building Information Modelling (BIM) to construct and design buildings all over the world. However, some wonder whether they can apply the technology to larger, more complex infrastructure, such as large aviation projects.

AECOM’s BIM experts at its Global Design Centre in Madrid, Spain, are having a go — and the results are looking positive.


A regional star

The plans for the new sleek passenger terminal at Kuwait’s International Airport are impressive. An elegant three-pointed star that extends from a 25-metre-high central space, each side spans 1.2km and links 51 gates and stands that can handle all types of  aircraft.

With a construction area larger than the size of Monaco, and using 25 times more concrete than the Empire State Building, the vast new terminal will accommodate 13 million passengers a year, with flexibility for that number to increase to 25 million in years to come.

Upon completion, it will also be one of the largest LEED Certified buildings in the world. Suffice to say, a project of this size and complexity requires the coordination of numerous specialist multidisciplinary teams from around the world, and ways for them to collaborate efficiently.


Sharing data

To enable the dispersed team to effectively exchange information and, most importantly, minimise construction problems, Senior BIM Advisor Javier Casado and his team led on the early development of a BIM strategy and related processes for the project.

BIM is a process for embedding digital representations of buildings and other built assets with lots of data and useful content for the whole lifecycle of a project. The team used commercial BIM tools like Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks and Civil3D, but the scope of the ambitious project required them to develop specific additional tools.

Required were BIM processes that would allow the global project team to collect, view and modify nearly 300 complex models. Javier and his colleagues used programming software such as Revit API, Dynamo, C#, C++ and Python to help them develop bespoke software to help them tackle their specific project challenges.


Tackling new challenges

One of the new creations was a tool that could check that all the models complied with the BIM common standard. This enabled the team to analyse thousands of values coming from all of the project’s models in a few hours. “After dumping this data into a database, we could provide the client and our designers complete reports about BIM quality, progress, and project health.”

Another example was a script that allowed team members to add information about a project object’s location in a few seconds. This data is the starting point to enable the BIM team to simulate construction sequences.

The models included non-geometrical data to extract organised information. This classified information allows the teams to get project quantities in a time efficient way. The BIM team also prepared 4D models to review the construction sequence, and to anticipate and solve problems during the design stage.


Setting a precedent

“It is probably the first time a design firm has managed such complex and large models for 3D coordination, 4D construction sequences, 5D quantification and 6D life-cycle management,” Javier said.

By developing in-house plug-ins, scripts and applying the latest collaborative cloud software, Javier and his team have enhanced communication between different teams and disciplines. These solutions also anticipate potential issues and offer solutions, optimising and saving costs and time during the construction process.

“By using the time that is usually lost to repetitive tasks, our teams can invest their energy into anticipating new tools for enhancing our work and producing an even better design,” Javier said.