Why Megaprojects Need BIM

It’s an integrated project controls tool

BIM is an integrated project controls tool that helps the CM, Owner, and other key stakeholders understand scheduling, cost, and risk components by visually representing how projects get built and are going to look throughout each phase of their lifecycle. Mega construction projects have complex, multi-page schedules, including Gantt chart graphics, which are difficult for anyone to follow using 2-D schedules. BIM lets you visualize the sequencing and conflicts, reducing errors and delays. BIM models can include site plans on schematic versions, laydown areas, excavation areas, tower cranes, crawler cranes, the movement of materials and equipment from location to location, and sharing the timing of equipment installations so owners know when areas are going to be accessible. Combining project controls elements with an understanding of constructability analysis is the extra layer of knowledge and experience added by this process.

It’s a valuable long-term investment

Facility management is the ultimate end goal of combining software and an as-built model that becomes the model of record for the project. Entering the BIM process from early design limits risk and errors, engages the team from the beginning, minimizes re-work, and maximizes efficiency to deliver the project. The best practice for implementing BIM long-term is as follows: First, enter into the construction phase with the 60-90-100 design model and delegate contractors with a responsibility to update the model throughout the construction process lifecycle, including uploading and delivering work in place and as-built model drawings at the end of the project for facility management purposes. Then, in an ideal world, this step leads to the 5D and 6D stages. The 5D stage is the cost-loaded aspect of the BIM model and, in the 6D stage, the BIM model is transitioned into an as-built, completed model for facility management. All systems and schematics requiring maintenance are recorded into software, such as Maximo, where the BIM model can be drilled down into the electrical systems, installed equipment, service life, etc. Ultimately, the BIM model will then provide a printout used to manage the building using this model or an iPad to previsualize the schematics behind the wall.

It’s cost effective

Implementing BIM on a megaproject is not as expensive as it is often perceived to be. The total cost is offset by potential savings derived from investing early in the assignment, avoiding rework, delays, and claims, and scaling it based on which point in the project it is brought in. BIM is typically not a huge overhead cost for an assignment, and usually consists of approximately a few thousand dollars a year in software costs, personnel costs, and two or three work stations. A full BIM team could be set up for a total of about $50,000-$60,000, which is not a major footprint on a megaproject or a program of work.

PMA Consultants is a leader in using BIM for the construction of megaprojects. Since 2005, when we first implemented a value planning exercise with the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center Project, we have provided BIM services on projects for the Port Authority PATH station rehab model, the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project, and the Newark Airport Terminal Redevelopment project.