Construction software: Growing rapidly
Extensive use of software across stages of a project can be invaluable for the present and in the long term
For long, technology providers in the country have often been compelling the government or any other authorities involved in building and infrastructure projects to take recourse to technology. While, of course, critical projects saw extensive use of technology, the lesser critical ones very often did not. Then, a few years or decades later, when the authorities want to figure out the underlying pipelines or wiring network below those now-old projects, it was difficult to do so. Such situations become eye-openers.
In this light, today, construction sites have vastly gone digital and processes are automated, from planning and execution to building management. The focus here is not on isolated solutions but on a holistic network of integrated systems and applications that interact and effectively “communicate” with each other (Internet of Things).
Santanu Das, senior VP, design integration, Bentley Sstems, says, “The broad acceptance of BIM has substantially benefited AEC professionals and projects over the last fifteen years, but now—with cloud services, reality modeling, and advanced analytics—we can advance BIM through digital twins. Until now, the use of BIM has been limited to static deliverables, which, after handing off to construction, quickly go out-of-date, losing the potential further value of the engineering data locked in BIM models. Now, with digital twins, we can open up the engineering data in a BIM model with its constituent digital components as a starting point, continually refresh the digital context with drone surveys and reality modeling, and—this is where it gets really exciting—continue to model and simulate the fitness for purpose of an asset over the digital chronology of its lifecycle.”
An edge over others
Over the years, the Indian government has incurred billions in cost overruns of projects. The reasons could be numerous. However, today leveraging BIM is saving them around 20% of the total infrastructure project costs by reducing construction time.
Keshab Chopra, MD, Doka India and SAARC, says, “Our upbeat construction - digital services for higher productivity is offered in three areas - Smart Construction Site, Smart Assistants and Smart planning. The creation of added value is the key for customers and the optimisation of the overall construction process - from the planning phase, construction measures on-site and the analysis of your performance. In addition to the project, construction site and product management, the platform also offers numerous other features, such as automated links to the online shop or classic services such as freightage, reconditioning and storage, which can be selected as modules. Currently, these services are offered in select countries.”
Doka also has a sensor-supported software solution Contakt that provides direct support during execution on the construction site. Live field data from the construction site, supplied by the supervisor and formwork sensors on the other, is collected in the Contakt platform and fed back into the BIM model as performance data. Besides, Contakt facilitates structured digital cycle planning and allows work steps to be flexibly adapted to real conditions. Doka is launching DokaCAD for Revit for automated formwork planning. Doka works closely with Autodesk to create BIM-compatible building models. Autodesk is an architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) partner that is leading the way in the industry by providing increasingly automated and networked ways of working for the construction of the future. DokaCAD for Revit represents the overall formwork planning process in BIM. It is an Autodesk Revit plug-in that allows native, automated formwork planning in BIM software.
Harsh Pareek, regional sales director, India and SAARC, Trimble Solutions, says, “Complex and large infrastructure projects like airports, bridges, metro rail, etc. around the world jostle with one overarching challenge i.e. to deliver the project on time and within the budget. A growing majority of construction players are now also striving for sustainable and environment-friendly construction methods and cutting-edge construction software holds the instrumental value for the project owners to achieve all of these desired objectives. Building sustainability into a structure’s design helps minimise its impact on the environment.”
Pareek goes on to add that construction technology is a great enabler for this goal too. Sustainable construction necessitates the integration of new types of building materials and construction processes into the existing construction practices. Some of the new processes include 3D printing, prefabrication, and modular construction, and modern constructible BIM software is a significant contributor to make these processes efficient.
Very recently, Trimble introduced the 2020 editions of Tekla software portfolio; which includes Tekla Structures 2020, Tekla Structural Designer 2020, Tekla Tedds 2020 and Tekla PowerFab 2020. This edition has several new features that deliver efficient workflows for better productivity and importantly, increased mobility and collaboration across project teams. As an example, Tekla Structures 2020 offers quick and easy formwork modelling and improved hollow core concrete detailing that hugely benefits concrete construction. Trimble Connect, the cloud-based collaboration platform has now been included in Tekla Structures 2020 Maintenance. This solution allows stakeholders to share, review and coordinate project information in real-time, across the project lifecycle, from any desktop or mobile device.
By ensuring productivity gains, construction software has helped in completion of infrastructure projects in time and within budget, which bodes well for the growth prospects of the sector. The technological disruption has also enabled the construction engineers to visualise and plan highly complex and mega projects that were often perceived as impossible to be done earlier.
Sunil MK, head of architecture, engineering and construction, Autodesk, India & SAARC, says, “India has taken a little longer to adopt technology related to construction of real estate and infrastructure. Advanced countries like US, the UK, UAE, China, France, Italy and Singapore are making full use of it. We have been educating people of the benefits of using BIM and one that is visible. It mainly helps in reducing cost, time and increasing efficiency of construction of infrastructure projects.”
Swear by BIM
Users of BIM (or adopting technology during all phases of construction) marvel what it can do to a project. Ashish Puravankara, MD, Puravankara Limited, says, “Software plays an integral part in various phases of construction. We use different software between the design and conceptualisation phase to the execution of the projects.”
He lists out the software that the company uses:
Design & conceptualisation phase: Software like AutoCAD helps in designing and drafting, while advance software like Revit can be used for building information modelling, the software is primarily for architects but is also used by MEP engineers, structural engineers, designers and contractors.
Modelling phase: ETABS and STAAD Pro are engineering software that cater to multi-story building design analysis and the solution techniques come handy.
Other software helpful in this phase are: RCDC – which is a leading concrete, detailed engineering software; and SAFE - known to be immensely capable and programmes quickly making it user-friendly for structural designers. The programme is known for providing the only tool necessary for modelling, analysis, designing, and detailing of concrete slab systems and foundations. Apart from these, BIM is also used to create digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a project.
Execution phase: We use Microsoft Projects, an application designed to assist project managers in developing plans, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing budgets and analysing workloads. This helps in maintaining the efficiency of the whole project. Another example of software used in this phase is Primavera, which is an enterprise project portfolio management software. It facilitates project management, scheduling, risk analysis, resource management etc. and even integrates with other enterprise software such as Oracle and SAP’s ERP systems.
Similarly, Anil Khurana, head, architecture & design, Kalpataru Limited, says, “We use Q-COP, a paperless enterprise solution for defect management, activity monitoring and health and safety checklists, is used on our projects right from the excavation stage until handover. Each stage of our project is divided into multiple activities which have checklists that get filled in Q-COP, this is also applicable for all material tests done. This accurate trail capturing helps us in later identifying lacunas in the system, if any, or any repeated non-conformances which require our attention. The same is done for snagging and de-snagging which is tracked until customer handover and even post hand over. We also use SAP-JAM for effective and real-time workplace collaboration across our teams.”
Khurana says that their transition to BIM, primarily through Revit and Navisworks software, has helped them in three aspects. First, visualise better in a 3-dimensional environment to be able to understand exactly what is likely to be built. Second, coordinate better because of complete visualisation and complete information such that it leaves relatively limited room for personalised interpretation. For example, when piping systems of a building at a transfer floor level are to be rerouted, each pipe is modeled and checked against elements of structure and mechanical ventilation system so that clashes are detected and resolved. Third, predict outcomes from the decisions that they take and the analysis that they run them through in Revit and Navisworks. This last aspect has been a game-changer because the extent of parametric information has allowed them to have better visibility of quantities and costs, better capability to schedule based on the project’s priorities and has provided a single baseline of consistent information that has streamlined decision-making.
The government should take a cue from the private sector.