BIM in Infrastructure Design

BIM in Infrastructure Design

Resolving design conflicts via the use of intelligent 3D models before construction saves time and money. Neutral and open standard model specifications that allow the seamless exchange of Building Information Models (BIM) make this possible. Diverse teams of engineers, including infrastructure and AEC specialists can collaborate effectively where they are all reading from the same page!

BIM methodology is simply about collaboration in a design process and a BIM model serves as the shared knowledge resource for information about a project. In this way the model forms a reliable basis for decisions during a project’s life-cycle from inception onward.

Industry Foundation (IFC) Specifications for BIM Design Models
At the 2018 BIM Africa Conference, it was announced that the 55 leading BIM Countries in the world have adopted the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data model as their preferred format for the sharing of design information (1). In many countries, IFC adoption is also being motivated through legislative pressure (2).

IFC provides a set of definitions for all essential AEC industry object element types and a text-based structure for storing those definitions in a data file. IFC is an open format, is widely implemented and is arguably the most information rich alternative.

Design Integrity
The increasing adoption of BIM compliant processes and the fact that the design model is now recognised as the central project reference has highlighted the importance of design integrity at all stages of a project and made the requirement of software tools that allow data interoperability essential.

The adoption of BIM compliant model sharing within infrastructure design has lagged behind its application in architectural and construction development projects. However, BIM methodology encompasses an entire project lifecycle, and infrastructural and structural design processes will increasingly contribute to the data value of an information-rich design model.

According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), industry case studies indicate that BIM processes have led to greater investment in design processes when the ability to impact project performance is high and the cost of making design changes is low. On an illustrative £100m scheme reducing design spend by 35% could save £2.6m, but investing in design in order to reduce waste in construction by 15% saves nearly £14m (3).

Infrastructure Design using CIVIL DESIGNER Software
Civil Designer is a BIM (BIM level 3D) model based design software package allowing interoperability of software throughout a complete project workflow. In addition, CIVIL DESIGNER is fully compatible with a range of industry standards including DWG, DXF, DGN and LandXML formats.

The integrated suite of design modules maintains design integrity by replicating all the pertinent aspects of a project, checking for potential service clashes, applying design standards throughout, and constantly checking all changes against these parameters. At all times a realistic simulation of the project at hand is upheld.

Henk van der Watt, Principal Civil Technologist at NWE Consulting, uses CIVIL DESIGNER for all their large scale infrastructure design projects. He explains that “the model is the project reference of the future. Workflow efficiency depends on design integrity so that accurate information can be extracted from the design model rather than from separate quantity and management documents“.

Infrastructural and Structural Design Synergy – CIVIL DESIGNER and ALLPLAN Engineering
In order to bring further practical BIM workflow expertise to the infrastructure design field, Civil Designer South Africa has partnered with ALLPLAN Engineering. ALLPLAN is Europe's premier supplier of BIM solutions for the AEC market and has been providing software solutions for the industry for over 30 years. The partnership will bolster the adoption of digital collaboration processes across infrastructural and structural design projects.

BIM workflow using CIVIL DESIGNER

A road design, as exported from CIVIL DESIGNER, shown in a BIM Model Viewer

"Terrain data and infrastructure services information needs to be readily available to our structural engineers. This can be achieved via the IFC file format which is generated by CIVIL DESIGNER" explains Dirk Kotze, civil engineer at KLS Consulting Engineers, South Africa.

View a video demonstrating the BIM workflow between CIVIL DESIGNER and ALLPLAN Engineering below

Infrastructure Design Within a BIM Model | Rod Harris, Civil Designer International
Download a printable pdf copy of this article here >>.

  1. Building a strong foundation for Building information modelling fundamentals (2018),
    cited in the BIM Institute of South Africa Conference Manual
  3. M. Suchock (2017), BIM in infrastructure - Not just a fad cited on

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