Every infrastructure construction project comprises different teams of varying sizes working together at any given point in time of the project. Coordination between the groups of architects, designers, engineers, contractors, and specialist contractors has always been a major challenge in the construction industry. Streamlining the work, especially in large scale projects, is vital. Errors in judgement or execution can result in loss of time and money -both scarce commodities.
Let me paraphrase from a NICMAR report that I found. Studies across various construction projects in many different countries found that the major causes for delays in projects were:
And what’s the impact? The same study says that (at the time of the examination) 49.6% of the time in construction was devoted to wasteful activities.
A developing country like India cannot afford to lose out due to such preventable issues. Today, the country is undergoing significant public infrastructure development in every town and city. Over the next 5 years, India plans to turn a whopping 50 cities into smart cities, and infrastructure work for it has already begun.
The Nagpur Metro Rail Project is one such major infrastructure project undertaken by the Maharashtra Government. Under this project, an elevated metro corridor, spanning over 40 km across the city with 36 stations and 2 depots is being constructed. The project is well on the way to completion and trial runs have already begun. It’s fair to say that it is one of the fastest infrastructure projects being carried out in the country today.
Controlling cost in such largescale projects is a herculean task. The most effective way of managing cost is by planning and collaborating better and eliminating discrepancies in the design and estimated time and raw materials required for the completion of the project.
Nagpur Metro is also one of those major public infrastructure projects which has successfully used and implemented Building Information Modelling (BIM). I have been personally involved in this aspect of the project, and I am sure that BIM has allowed Nagpur Metro to reap benefits in the form of cost cutting and time-saving.
Nagpur Metro Rail Project leveraged BIM to accelerate work and control costs. During a conference in Singapore in 2017, Mr. Brijesh Dixit – MD, Nagpur Metro Rail Project highlighted the following points:
• Cost savings of around 12% has been achieved concerning logistics travel and staff days. It is expected to grow up to 15% by the end of completion of the project.
• Savings in time around 8% has been achieved which is likely to rise to 11% by the end of the project.
• The end of the project anticipates a reduction of overhead costs from 5% to 3.5%.
• Cost savings of around 8% is expected over the DPR projected costs.
How did BIM help in achieving this?
Just repeating that BIM is a software that helps in generating a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. The 3D representation allows architects, engineers, and builders to plan, design, manage, and execute the project efficiently. The data related to the facility is saved in the form of digital files that is accessible to all the stakeholders in the project. This centralisation of data helps in eliminating duplication, thereby avoiding confusion during the execution phase. BIM uses six dimensions (6D) to create a holistic construction plan. These six dimensions are:
• As-built /Facilities management
The inclusion of the 4th and 5th dimension helps in making accurate projections about the time and estimation of costs required to complete the project. The 6th Dimension, As-Built/Facilities management helps in having accurate information of any updates during construction which will help with facilities management. Every infrastructure project evolves during construction, and it becomes difficult to keep track of these changes. The As-Built is the final drawing of the facility which incorporates every small little change that is made in the actual design during the construction process. This becomes precious information for the ongoing maintenance of the project even after construction is completed.
Why make BIM Mandatory for Public Infrastructural Work?
Before answering the why, let’s look at the benefits of implementing BIM:
• Helps in accelerating completion of the project by facilitating better planning
• Helps in saving and cutting down construction cost through clash detection
• Helps in saving through construction process simulation
• Helps in eliminating unbudgeted changes
• Helps in reducing the request for information or missing information
• Helps in reducing the time required to generate estimates
• Helps in better collaboration between the various stakeholders
Think of all the extensive public infrastructure work going on in the country today. Now, think of executing those infrastructure projects with the help of BIM. BIM will not only help in cutting costs but will also help in driving faster project completion. UK made the use of BIM mandatory in public infrastructure projects a couple of years ago. Last year a report by PwC estimated that on a projected public infrastructure spend of GBP 31.7 Billion on 2018/19, public funds to the tune of GBP 429 Million could be saved. That’s in 1 year!
The Nagpur Metro Rail Project is an example of how effective the BIM-driven construction can prove to be for public infrastructure projects. Today, the Metro work in Nagpur has been more than 40% complete. This has been achieved within 2 years.
To me the choice is clear, and it is inevitable, I appeal to the Government of India to make BIM mandatory for every public infrastructure project being carried out in the country today. It’s the need of the hour!