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The Pivotal Role of BIM in the Construction Industry

By Jeff Buckely, BIM Program Manager, Aldridge PreFab

The Pivotal Role of BIM in the Construction IndustryJeff Buckely, BIM Program Manager, Aldridge PreFab

Aldridge prides itself on leveraging state-of-the-art technologies to provide the highest quality project delivery in the smartest, safest manner possible. As the industry continues to increase the utilization of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other new programs, Aldridge has elevated its focus on collaboration among our PreFabrication Department, BIM professionals, and project teams to drive planning and execution, and yield value-engineered outputs.

This collaboration begins early—often in pre-bid or estimate phases, because BIM drives our prefabrication efforts. Our BIM Subject Matter Experts, who support all 2D, 3D, BIM, Scanning, and Augmented Reality needs, work closely with PreFab Designers to conceptualize project solutions. The PreFab Designers complete initial CAD and BlueBeam drawings to assist the BIM team in executing their 3D models. This helps to augment the planning efforts of craft leaders, who are often still committed to other projects.

Upon project award, we begin our extensive pre-planning process, where the BIM Team, utilizing their extensive trade expertise, helps drive the successful project framework for crucial components of the planning process. Their background is critical to understanding the sequencing of work, identifying prefabrication opportunities, and developing a bill of materials to use on bulk material purchases. 

This joint effort helps cultivate an environment of sharing experiences and developing and improving systems to further advance Aldridge as a top-quality, nationwide construction contractor that provides solutions in a wide range of markets and services. At Aldridge, no two projects are the same, but utilizing BIM allows for one constant - showcasing our design, engineering, and integration capabilities, even when not required by contract specifications. A few examples include:

At Aldridge, no two projects are the same, but utilizing BIM allows for one constant - showcasing our design, engineering, and integration capabilities, even when not required by contract specifications

o A recent data center project illustrated how the use of BIM could impact project planning and execution. Trimble Earthworks and SiteVision AR were utilized for the entire 550-acre site, which was 3D-modeled to maximize prefabrication opportunities. Over 14 miles of ductbank were prefabricated as a result of the findings. Additionally, the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) was used to represent the exact locations of structures, ductbank, and utilities, so that the operators knew exactly what they needed to do at all time. This made our excavators more efficient, reducing emissions, fuel, and re-work.

o On a tunnel lighting project, 3D modeling was used to identify prefabrication opportunities, which decreased time on-site and impact to the traveling public. By reducing the amount of time our crews spent near high-volume traffic, we also provided a safer work environment.

o Sequencing of work provides a huge advantage when working with other trades and around live equipment. One example where using BIM was a success was at a Chicago-area pumping station. 

The pumps needed to remain in service during an electrification process, and the BIM model allowed project managers to properly phase delivery of materials and schedule construction and craft labor hours.

o In the case of providing Navigational Aids facilities on a recent airport runway project, Aldridge was asked to create the architectural and structural models in-house. BIM played a major role in not only identifying prefabrication opportunities but resolving issues during the pre-construction stage, such as ensuring that the equipment and conduit did not clash with anything. Additionally, the model provided the locations of handholes and panelboards, which allowed for an easier installation. Finally, a detailed bill of materials was produced which provided opportunities to engage vendors on bulk material buyouts.

Coupling our industry knowledge with BIM technologies has provided new opportunities for Aldridge to showcase our ability to meet and surpass customers’ needs. It allows us to deliver a product that is not just built “as planned,” but is delivered “as intended,” often allowing us to make recommendations and deliver a final outcome that exceeds original expectations. We are proud to be a part of this innovative technology during an exciting time in the construction industry. Taking lessons learned from every project, we are constantly evolving our approach and expanding our training and development opportunities to keep up with the demands of the industry. We look forward to incorporating more augmented reality options and animation sequencing to support our full range of services in the future.

Based in Libertyville, Ill., Aldridge has nearly 70 years of experience completing complex and challenging projects in the transportation and power markets while upholding its commitment to being Incident- and Injury-Free (IIF).

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