Charging towards a Smart Nation
According to Dr Victor Khoo, Deputy Director of the Singapore Land Authority, a 3D digital environment is essential to a smart nation, as 2D maps are “not able to fully represent the real world”, offering “low resolution and few details”i. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been identified as a game-changing technology that will enhance productivity and the level of integration across different disciplines throughout the entire construction chain. Take a peek at how BIM can help Singapore become the world’s first Smart Nation, through each stage of the construction lifecycle.
During the provisional planning phase of a smart structure or ecosystem, BIM can play a part in envisioning site models and structural systems. For example, during the planning phase of Gardens by the Bay, local construction company Woh Hup used BIM to “locate and design the supporting stumps, and resolve clashes early”ii. BIM helps to predict these clashes and ensure that these clashes do not happen on site. Using the knowledge from the Gardens by the Bay project, Woh Hup is currently applying BIM in the construction of a new building above an existing Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) structure.
Building plans designed using BIM can easily tap into a huge database regarding the project sites. Projects often start with a wealth of information such as aerial imagery and digital elevation of the project sites. Further information includes laser scans of existing infrastructure that help to accurately capture reality and greatly streamline project preparations. Utilising BIM allows designers to benefit from all these information that were captured in advance and shared in a digital model. The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands used BIM to develop digital models that were accurate to the millimetre so that it could be used by its steel fabricator. This significantly reduced risks that client and contractor had to bear.
Boost visibility and ease collaboration
With BIM solutions, most project management functionality has been moved to the cloud. There are 2 main benefits of this: real-time collaboration between disciplines and data synchronisation. Real-time collaboration means that Consulting Engineers can provide feedback on building performance goals and requirements as early as the conceptualisation stage. This facilitates early problem detection and resolution even before the construction stage.
Bringing engineers and key stakeholders from other departments into a single working platform enables collaboration from the start to better define the zones required for mechanical and electrical equipment. Cloud-based BIM also allows the design and engineering teams to share the models in the cloud, providing the entire project team access to the most updated information, anytime, anywhere.
Besides facilitating teamwork and sharing of expertise, BIM also helps in the tracking of key project timelines and milestones. There are mobile apps that allow 3D BIM models to be viewed through Glue clients on tablets or mobile phones. BIM also allows the project team to produce quick renderings for the project, and prevents the problem of working with obsolete information through instantaneous saving of project details.
For instance, Tiong Seng Holdings Limited, a leading building construction and civil engineering contractor in Singapore, uses BIM for the production of construction drawings. They are able to generate instant quantities and estimates, which results in improved productivity and eco-friendly construction. BIM also helps Tiong Seng foster a more collaborative work environment which allows it to engage its stakeholders more effectively.
Generally, BIM allows members of various teams to be constantly updated with the overall project progress. Transparency of every discipline’s scope of work and the amount of progress are accessible to all project members. BIM’s Cloud feature ensures that the various teams and companies on a project have consistent access to the same detailed models. This collaborative nature of BIM ties into the time-saving and resource-saving aspect of BIM.
Improve existing structures
BIM can also be utilized to improve overall structure of existing buildings such as the retrofitting “of inefficient equipment with new energy management systems which provide key information about …when and where the building is consuming energy”iv.
It can be retroactively applied to improve quality and speed of decision making related to facility use, renovations, maintenance, etc. For example, with built-in energy modelling and building performance capabilities, teams can use this feature to decide with greater effectiveness where and how to improve existing buildings on a limited budget in order to achieve a higher LEED certification.
BIM can also help to automate clash detection when trying to improve upon existing infrastructure. Through modelling and prediction of these clashes, potential problems are found early and expensive on-site clashes are reduced. BIM modelling ensures that elements that need to be installed fit perfectly thereby allowing these elements to be manufactured off-site rather than created on-site.
Towards a Smart Nation
BIM has been used in many iconic structures such as ArtScience museum, Reflections at Keppel Bay, and Gardens by the Bay, helping engineers, contractors, developers, owners, and other stakeholders to have clearer picture of a building project and therefore reduce expenses and costly mistakes.
Our nation’s push towards a Smart Nation can be realized by continuing to empower people through the usage of innovative BIM technology to save time and money, concurrently improving safety and environmental standards for buildings.
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