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BIM for Water: A clean solution

The uptake of building information modelling is increasing rapidly, and it is spreading into new sectors. NCE reports on how it dramatically speeded design work on a project to rehabilitate an Amazonian watercourse.

Figueiredo Ferraz is one of Brazil’s foremost engineering companies, with a track record of delivering innovative solutions for complex engineering challenges that minimise environmental impacts.

One of the firm’s recent BIM projects targets environmental recovery for the Sapolandia, Franco, and Quarenta watercourses in Manaus, Brazil.

Currently under construction, this government project aims to protect these watercourses and improve the quality of life for nearby residents and businesses.

“The recovery targets about 20ha of an urban area and affects the relocation of more than 10,000 people,” explains Figueiredo Ferraz business development director Charles Neilson.

“For a project of this scope, we needed a multifaceted solution that addressed drainage, traffic circulation, sewage collection and treatment, as well as the urban renewal, re-vegetation, and landscaping of the stream banks. And in addition to the engineering aspects of the project, we had to reach design consensus with various city, state, and local groups involved in the project.”

Autodesk’s Civil 3D had the answers. “The software helped us develop and study a series of sustainable design alternatives for each watercourse,” says Figueiredo Ferraz engineer Marcos del Nero Millan.

“Our BIM approach helped us quickly alter specific features of a design — a bridge crossing or a roadway alignment for example — to more efficiently create, coordinate, visualize, and evaluate design options.”

Civil 3D software helped us develop and study a series of sustainable design alternatives for each watercourse

Marcos del Nero Millan, Figueiredo Ferraz

The team used existing imagery and geospatial data combined with project survey data to coordinate their designs with existing city infrastructure. BIM design processes also enabled Figueiredo Ferraz to coordinate its designs with the other members of the extended design team. For example, the project architect used Figueiredo Ferraz’s grading and alignment models to coordinate its building designs with the infrastructure designs.

3Ds Max Design software was also used to help aggregate cross-discipline design models into a single visualization of the project in order to better facilitate design reviews, approvals, and public outreach efforts.
This helped various oversight committees better understand and evaluate design alternatives, helping to speed their decision making.

Throughout the design process and the sequence of design iterations, the team used Civil 3D to assist in identifying and resolving conflicts — helping to keep the documentation set of almost 700 drawings coordinated and the project on schedule.

BIM processes also helped the firm’s engineers to react more quickly to design decisions and changes. “At one point we discovered a mismatch between an existing street and a planned viaduct over one of the watercourses,” recalls Millan.

“But construction of the bridge abutments was about to start, and this work had to be finished before the seasonal flooding of the Amazon River caused the water table to rise.

“Civil 3D enabled us to more quickly make some grading adjustments and produce new drawings for the construction team.”

After evaluating many alternatives, the project team settled on optimal environmental strategies for the watercourses. Final designs are complete; the cleanup and construction of these watercourses is underway, and Manaus citizens are looking forward to their new waterside environs.


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