BIM is evolving rapidly in tandem with industrial and technological advances, and is making an increasingly critical contribution to the management of assets during the operational phase of their life cycles.
While BIM, or Building Information Modelling, has long been chiefly associated with the design and construction phase of a physical asset, its advantages are now being increasingly applied to buildings or infrastructure projects during the stage of active operation in order to enhance management, usage and efficiency.
During a recent trip to Australia, Bentley Systems' industry marketing director for rail Steve Cockerell said managing information while operating and maintaining an asset is the next stage in the evolution of BIM.
An outstanding example of this is the CrossRail project in London, which is breaking new ground in the creation of asset information for management and maintenance purposes.
According to Cockerell, CrossRail represents the largest and most complex instance of BIM's advantages being deployed for the purpose of what is increasingly referred to asset lifecycle information management (ALIM).
London's GBP15 billion CrossRail project will see the construction of a 118-kilometre line to service both London and surrounding areas, entailing the construction of 42 kilometres in new tunnels and the integration of new routes with pre-existing lines.
In order to ensure the smooth functioning of this sprawling, multi-faceted project, the Crossrail Asset Information Management System (AIMS) has been developed. AIMS will eventually record data concerning 1 million individual assets via intelligent data sheets provided by contractors for the project.
Crossrail expects the mass cataloguing of the project's myriad items and attributes to result in savings of around GBP 50 million per year on operations and maintenance costs.
During his trip to Australia, Cockerell found that local members of the construction and engineering industry are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that BIM and ALIM can bring to projects during the operating phase.
"For operators of commuter light rail, freight and mining assets in Australia, there's real focus on keeping the asset in tip top condition, because every delay or problem costs them money," he said. "ALIM can definitely help them achieve this via enhanced management of the data and information in such projects."