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Technical BIM

Will Hackney says that it’s about

understanding fully the level of detail required from the model and balancing that against the cost of keeping it fully updated. “Granularity of this project model is weekly, and that works for us in this scenario,” says Hackney. “Real-time updating in construction is a matter for debate, although 4D is always moving towards greater levels of detail. We could keep it up to date constantly, but the labour intensity of doing that lowers the cost effectiveness of the tool. In terms of construction logistics in this case, it might be good to get to get the model updated on a daily basis to be aware of deliveries to site, but hour to hour here would be unnecessary.” That said, both Hackney and Remmers

mention a previous rail infrastructure project for the DLR where the nine-day possession to tie in the new grade separated structure at Canning Town was programmed and modelled along a critical path of half hours.


Interoperability Similarly, Remmers discusses the interoperability of the virtual model with hand-held “palm” devices or tablets such as the iPad. “We don’t have it here, but I can imagine a scenario where it would be of value. On a job like this, where we are currently doing a big muck shift, we simply don’t need that level of functionality, but it’s an exciting prospect to think some time down the line an M&E engineer will be out on site and be able to refer to a wiring diagram on a manufacturer’s spec from a hand-held device.” It also seems to be about keeping

software up-to-date. Hackney says that his team of BIM experts at Vinci’s Watford HQ hold three versions of all the software used on site. “At any point in time we’ll have the old version, the current one and the beta version to help with forward planning and to ensure that the transition between versions is seamless,” he adds And while all the bods in Watford are

going to be au fait with all the software systems in use, at the coal face of the dig at TCR, the Freedom viewer is the user- friendly face of the technology revolution. “Training someone with the Freedom viewer takes about 10 or 15 minutes, so it hasn’t required significant investment of either time or money


Right and below right: View of the site from the top of the Centre Point tower. The station box for the London underground station will be at the bottom centre of the image. The Crossrail box is being dug at the top left of the site.

Right: BIM allowed Vinci to see any conflicts with the propping sequencing and to deal with them before they became an issue

to use a tool that brings real project benefits,” says Remmers. “On a day-to-day basis even screen

grabs help us with method statements and activity plans. But more important, it means that even normal site operatives get the ability to connect the various aspects of the project and to visualise the target we’re trying to achieve.” That’s part of the appeal of BIM — its

ability to work on the most general level to that of the smallest technical detail.

And the real skill, according to Hackney, is in controlling the information to ensure it’s optimised for the project in hand; which, one assumes, is where he comes in. “With BIM too much asset information can be overwhelming, so you need to know your audience and have to strip some away to keep the model legible,” he says. “What is of most value for you to see at a particular point in the project? Good BIM practice is all about tailoring the information to the viewer.” CM

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