Learn how industry professionals have achieved business goals and transformed their work through Building Information Modeling (BIM) collaboration and coordination.
iNFRANEA: BIM and the infrastructure lifecycle
From its locations in Belgium and the Netherlands, iNFRANEA designs motorways and infrastructure in addition to providing BIM, visualization, and data management services. The firm’s managing director, Johan Kuppens, founded iNFRANEA in 2004. iNFRANEA’s work on the River Waal widening project earned an award for the exemplary use of BIM in the 2013 Autodesk Excellence in Infrastructure Competition.
Founder and Managing Director
“As soon as one starts thinking about a new project, one should plan how all project information will be managed, from initial concepts to facility management.”
Q: What experience do you have using BIM for infrastructure projects?
A: Johan Kuppens: I’ve been involved with promoting and supporting the use of 3D design software for about 25 years. Of course, the technology has evolved greatly over that time. Today, we see BIM as having moved beyond just modeling to becoming a process that changes how projects are managed.
Q: How would you describe the BIM services you provide that go beyond design?
A: Kuppens: BIM should be more than just modeling; it should broaden out to building information management.
The key is to relate all nongeometric information—such as functions, requirements and issues—to the BIM geometry. We achieve this by managing this information in a systems engineering database and by connecting this information with the BIM objects in a bidirectional way. This way, the many disciplines working on a project will think of it all as one system. BIM then unites all aspects of a project, so you can use the information to optimize design and build processes.
Q: What do you see as the role and benefits of BIM across the lifecycle of infrastructure assets?
A: Kuppens: We come back to the principles of systems engineering again. Typically, people think of BIM as starting once you begin to define the geometry of a design solution. But much of the project information is determined early on, during the initiation phase. As soon as one starts thinking about a new project, one should plan how all project information will be managed, from initial concepts to facility management.
A: Jaap de Boer, Project Manager: When you start a project, you should already be thinking about how the system will be built and managed over its lifecycle. You can use BIM to find answers to questions like "How am I going to build this?" or deeper questions such as "How am I going to maintain it cost-effectively?" BIM is the ideal platform for thinking about the whole lifecycle of a built asset.
Q: Have you made an effort to quantify the benefits of BIM?
A: Kuppens: We did some research in our customer base about the benefits of BIM, but they are hard to calculate. Contractors we work with are confident they’re seeing financial benefits from BIM, but mostly it’s in the form of avoiding failure costs, such as from clashes in design or planning. I’ve seen estimates of as much as 12 percent of the total turnover in construction being tied to failure costs. BIM helps contractors reduce failure costs, but it’s hard to quantify the cost of problems that did not occur because they were avoided.
A: de Boer: We’re seeing owners of large infrastructure projects, especially in government, take an interest in getting as-built data in a format they can use to maintain the asset. Owners of infrastructure are not only requiring BIM for design, but they are also thinking about how they can use BIM for operations and maintenance. In the future, BIM could start to play as large a role in asset management as it does now in design and construction.
Gannett Fleming, a multidisciplinary engineering and architecture firm that serves a wide array of public and private sector clients, talks about the firm’s move to BIM.
Gannett Fleming Q&A
BIM helps firm deliver clearer designs, compressed timelines, and a better built environment.