How digital as-builts and connected construction support sustainable infrastructure

Sponsored by Trimble

The Biden Administration has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure investment to address America’s aging and outdated infrastructure, with a significant portion of the bill earmarked for bridges and roads. But to build the sustainable infrastructure needed to reinvigorate America’s economy, the industry must work together more efficiently and productively than ever.

Despite technologies available to bridge the gaps between stakeholders, workflows, and project data, the various teams and processes involved in construction remain largely disconnected. It’s not uncommon for engineers to lack the details needed to produce more constructible models. Or for contractors to make do with these models, accepting that changes along the way to address site realities are just a part of the process.

But these changes come at a significant cost in terms of duplicated efforts, rework, and waste. And they create a ripple effect of inefficiency, ultimately resulting in the budget and schedule overruns that plague the industry. According to the Construction Industry Institute, 12.4% of infrastructure construction project costs go to rework, and transportation construction projects are delayed by 2.3 years on average.

Digital As-Builts: Improving the Efficiency & Sustainability of Civil Construction Projects

For infrastructure assets to be produced efficiently and sustainably, more collaboration among construction stakeholders is needed, and project data must be centralized and accessible by all teams. This is already achievable through technology and is being encouraged by organizations like the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).

In the current round of its Every Day Counts program, the FHA promotes the use of digital as-builts, which requires all stakeholders to share a single, centralized 3D model where data is captured throughout the construction lifecycle. The result is a living, continuously current BIM model that extends beyond design to aid in planning and decision-making both during and after construction.

With a data-rich digital as-built, owners can access granular data, such as asphalt heights and the exact locations of drainage features, to optimize ongoing maintenance. The benefits of digital as-builts aren’t confined to operational improvements either. With reliable as-builts, engineers can design to a higher level of detail and produce more constructible models. And potential issues can be identified and resolved before they lead to costly rework or RFIs. This ultimately comes back to project owners in the form of more detailed information about the as-built asset, but also results in faster delivery, lower costs, and greater transparency throughout the project.

“Many times when we look at a project, whether it’s in the pre-bid or post bid, if we had accurate digital as-builts from the previous work that was done in that area, it would help us plan our work, make things more efficient, eliminate conflicts and errors during construction, and really improve efficiency.”

–– Ryan Forrestel, President, Cold Spring Construction

Realize the Benefits of Collaboration with Connected Construction

Realizing the efficiency and sustainability improvements possible through increased collaboration is more than achievable through a connected construction approach supported by integrated technology tools. For example, using a cloud-based BIM collaboration tool like Trimble Quadri, all stakeholders are able to share access to the model. Instead of wasting time and money on rework, RFIs, and change orders, teams are able to work together efficiently and effectively.

The digital as-built can also serve as the starting point for a digital twin, an exact digital replica of the physical asset. Dynamic and continuously updated with field data, a digital twin is a powerful tool that can be used for resource management, predictive adjustments, and progress monitoring. By providing deep insights into the field and asset performance, digital twins hold the key to unlocking the efficiency and sustainability gains needed to produce the infrastructure of tomorrow.

Improvements like these are exactly what’s needed to address the infrastructure challenges and opportunities ahead. And those who are willing to break down traditional work silos and make the cultural shift needed will reap the rewards.

Seize the Infrastructure Opportunity

Discover how Trimble’s Connected Construction helps contractors and engineers deliver projects with more control and more predictability, learn more.

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