Visualise a project

Written by Shubhra Tandon | Updated: Jun 25 2014, 05:51am hrs
Precision in the designing and planning of large infrastructure projects has become critical today, considering the cost overruns, quality issues and other inefficiencies that hold up various infrastructure projects in the country.

A recent study says more than 70% of the built environment assets (buildings and related infrastructure) required in India is yet to be constructed. So, given the volume of construction India has to undertake, it cannot be business as usual. Technology will have to be deployed at the planning stage to improve construction efficiency.

A technological tool that is gaining popularity in the global built environment sector is Building Information Modelling (BIM), for its ability to reduce cost and time, and increase broader efficiencies.

BIM, also known as Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), is a process that uses smart and computable multi-dimensional model of a project to enhance its design, construction, operation and maintenance. It provides an integrated process that helps architects, engineers, builders and owners explore a projects key physical and functional characteristics digitally before it is built.

In India, Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3, New Delhi, Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, Khed Special Economic Zone Phase 1 & 2 (Maharashtra), Lavasa Hill Station master plan, Pune, and Seawoods station, Navi Mumbai, are some of the projects which used BIM as part of project planning.

BIM enables customers to visualise their buildings, says Lee Miller, vice-president and director (building SMART implementation), HOK, a US-based global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. We are interested in solving any design changes in the computer itself, because it can be really expensive otherwise to make those changes on site. So, if we can do most of the work on computer and figure out all of the design problems, before putting out on site, we not only save a lot of money as design firms, but it also makes the construction process far more efficient", says Miller.

Traditional construction planning, on the basis of two dimensional drawings and a set of documents, can be prone to errors and contradictions, says Miller.

BIM is expected to emerge as one of the most fundamental changes that are likely to rapidly transform the Indian real estate and construction sector, says the study by RICS School of Built Environment (Amity University), KPMG and AutoDesk, titled State of BIM adoption and outlook in India.

The developer of the Kempegowda International Airport say the technology aided in relatively better and time-bound implementation of the project. The advantage we experienced through the use of BIM is precision in detail and presentation over conventional tools. Time is of essence in a project as large as the terminal expansion of the Kempegowda International Airport. Through the use of BIM planning glitches were avoided. Also, reworks during the construction period that would have impacted us commercially were avoided, says a spokesperson for Bangalore International Airport Ltd.

However, despite the growth in construction that is envisaged in India, the adoption of such technology remains limited. The study quotes that the global construction sectors output in 2013 was about $7.2 trillion and is poised to grow to $15 trillion by 2025. This growth is predominantly expected in emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and Poland, taking the contribution of emerging countries from about 35% of the global construction output to 55% by 2020.

However, still in India, the adoption of BIM is limited to 22% of construction, against 70% in the United States, the highest, followed by 36% in Europe and 25% in the Middle East.

The volume of construction is poised to increase and gains from the use of BIM in developing countries, such as India are significant. The growing worldwide adoption and implementation of BIM for its powerful digital data-based modelling, visualisation, analysis and simulation capabilities represents the start of a transition to an integrated information infrastructure that will ultimately revolutionise almost all aspects of the construction industry, says Neeraj Bansal, partner and head (real estate and construction), KPMG in India.