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Think in 3D in 2015

The water industry is changing and we need to adapt. And innovate.  And create. With 2015 and AMP6 around the corner, we need to make sure we’re delivering efficiency and working collaboratively to ensure we’re not left behind.

Within five years, I predict that digital tools and techniques will be integrated into the project delivery process. This will change how solutions are delivered and projects will be designed using intelligent models. Not only can these be interrogated, long before the construction stage, but the need to rework will be eradicated.

If we collaboratively think through site delivery prior to starting on site, we are not just understanding the design, but also the most efficient method of delivery. Construction teams want firm designs so they can keep to a schedule and designers don’t want 11th hour questions like “Who designed it like this? I’d build it like this.”

The design needs to be developed with delivery, assembly and operation in mind. Minor modifications can be made before its arrival on site to reduce time, and offsite assembly will allow input at an early stage to ensure it’s delivered as efficiently as possible. 

With planned collaborative meetings between the design, engineering, assembly and commissioning teams, everybody involved in the delivery has an input so the design is owned by everybody not just the design engineers. 

Factor in 3D technology and everyone can look at an intelligent model and instantly understand the design and its context. Conversations about how to optimise the design can start quickly and add value, while using intelligent models means that snag items can be identified, and solved before we build. 

But the real step change is that engineers no longer need to be CAD operators. Construction sequencing can be incorporated in a 3D model, and linked to the schedule to see how it will play out. This will allow more scrutiny for the assembly process and check we have a safe design. And, of course, no more 2D drawings.

Engineers should be embracing 3D technology in all projects if we are going to make a real step change in 2015.  

Andrew Collett is a senior design manager at MWH.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Barry Tuckwood

    The major change required for successful adoption is increased collaboration for which trust is essential. This is a culture change for many organisations and individuals in property and construction, a point expressed at many BIM and other events.

    Clients should be in the driving seat for this change as they have the most to gain over the whole life of the assets. We can engage with clients and encourage adoption of BIM so that it becomes Business as Usual. 3D capability which has been around for many years is an important part of the change but the over-riding requirement is for there to be more collaboration and more trust, all built into successful culture change.

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