Infrastructure development will play a key role in achieving India’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy. The next step in the growth of the infrastructure sector in India is the accelerated adoption of digital technology. The deployment of technology in all infrastructure projects will help improve project planning and implementation, thereby reducing time and cost overruns.
In this regard, the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) in a construction workflow provides a common intelligent model-based process to plan, design, construct and manage infrastructure. It also minimises the scope for errors and iterations. The Bangalore International Airport, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation, Personal Rapid Transit System in Amritsar, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Guwahati International Airport as well as renovation of Gwalior railway station are some examples of infrastructure projects that have been, or are currently being, developed in India using the BIM technology.
Implementation of BIM in infrastructure
The journey of BIM in India has evolved over the past decade owing to its multifold benefits. Industry players in India are now taking up BIM for improving project delivery and life cycle performance. At present, the technology is mostly being leveraged in the planning and design phase.
In a bid to increase the focus on innovation and the use of advanced technologies to enable better project implementation, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has identified BIM as the design and planning platform for constructing the New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB) of Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati. It is a new 90,000 square metre terminal that will have 64 check-in counters, 20 self-check-in desks, eight immigration counters, eight customs counters, six arrival carousels, 10 escalators, 25 elevators, 16 self-baggage drop counters and 20 aircraft parking bays. Design Forum International (DFI), an architecture firm, and AECOM have leveraged the Autodesk BIM solution, Revit, to design the NITB of the airport. AAI has also used 3D imaging to plan, coordinate and carry out construction of the integrated terminal at Chennai airport.
Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB), has completed the Terminal 2 building at the airport in record time. The organisation deployed BIM for the entire project life cycle of Terminal 2 and leveraged Autodesk BIM 360 as the design and planning platform.
Another sector that has leveraged the benefits of BIM in design and planning is urban mass transit. The five-dimensional (5D)-BIM based digital project management platform was adopted by Nagpur Metro for the first time in India. Nagpur Metro successfully achieved 5D-BIM integration through iTWO. It provided an integrated view of the project by linking the 3D model, project schedule and cost. The flaws in construction sequencing were timely rectified by the contractor with the help of simulations.
In another development, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has implemented a custom-made project monitoring software, Integrated Project Monitoring Software (IPMS). It is being used to monitor the progress of its Delhi Metro Phase IV corridors and the Patna Metro project. IPMS integrates construction-related software Primavera Schedules for project planning, 3D BIM, and a mobile application. With the help of this integration, the actual progress at site can be uploaded in IPMS in real time. Reportedly, BIM has reduced the project duration and decreased the construction cost of Phase IV by 33 per cent while increasing labour productivity by 43 per cent.
On similar lines, the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation is implementing the Digital Project Management System using BIM for the Kanpur and Agra metro works. This includes 5D-BIM and Common Data Environment solution. Chennai Metro Rail Limited is also using BIM to plan, design, coordinate and build the corridors and stations as part of the project, which stretches almost 120 km.
Apart from this, the central government is planning to leverage BIM for designing and installing railway-signaling systems in the country. Voyants Solutions has prepared the station development plan of the Gwalior railway station under the station redevelopment programme. The firm used BIM models and workflows to optimise building design and incorporate existing structures.
Meanwhile, Revit and Civil 3D software have been deployed by TPF Engineering Private Limited to enhance productivity and speed up the execution and design delivery of the Jabalpur flyover and railway over bridge project. With the help of the Autodesk suite, TPF Engineering Private Limited has efficiently made 3D plans and profile drawings. The decision-making and sustainability in design delivery was considerably improved with the help of 3D visualisation.
The challenges that impede the full implementation of BIM are not localised to India. The key concerns that have been observed in deploying BIM include the high costs involved in this digital transformation, the lack of BIM-qualified professionals, huge costs of manpower training and the costs involved in acquiring and updating the new cutting-edge building software.
Potential of BIM in India
The government’s vision of creating world-class infrastructure has ushered in huge investments in big-ticket projects. The successful implementation of these projects hinges on a number of factors, including the adoption of advanced technology solutions. Besides, the outbreak of the pandemic helped India realise the true potential of digital technology and expedite the process of digital transformation across sectors.
In India, the majority of construction and infrastructure projects are fragmented. Different teams are involved in the same project but working in silos, often with little or no integration, synchronisation or coordination. With the help of BIM, architects, contractors and structural engineers can work more collaboratively to access and update the design in a consistent and coordinated manner.
While the utility of BIM is being recognised in the planning and design phase, its true potential is yet to be tapped in the construction and operational phases. The National Infrastructure Pipeline worth Rs 111 trillion is going to make the deployment of BIM necessary to streamline processes and bring in more coordination and integration, thereby achieving the construction targets. The use of BIM will be extremely beneficial in reducing the costs incurred on construction and infrastructure projects by reducing working hours, enabling accurate cost estimation and improving supply chain management.
During operation and maintenance, application of BIM can help in locating and assessing faulty assets and enable speedier resolutions. Apart from this, advanced application of BIM including integration with enterprise resource planning is expected to help manage material procurement, cash flows and bill verification.
Going forward, it is essential that the adoption of BIM is included in infrastructure contracts to ensure that its technological benefits are being utilised. BIM implementation will gain traction in the construction and infrastructure sector once its deployment is mandated at the government level. Further, there is a need to build capacity and train professionals for BIM implementation in the government and private sectors alike. The recently released National BIM and Digital Twin Strategy suggests that a well-executed BIM and digital twin technology can enhance productivity in the Indian construction and infrastructure sector by 25-30 per cent on an average. Policy and strategy reforms integrated with BIM technology implementation and innovation will make a significant impact on the future of the construction and infrastructure sector in the country.