I was under the impression that building information modeling (BIM) had not penetrated very far into the road building industry. Boy was I wrong.
“All big projects I know that are starting up within the last six months are talking BIM, even in the civil world,” Ron Gant, global director of marketing for civil and transportation at Bentley Systems Inc., told me during an exclusive interview at Bentley’s recent Year in Infrastructure Conference.
BIM started in the vertical building market and has migrated to horizontal building.
“One of the things that really pushed us into the BIM environment was automated machine guidance,” Gant said, “because when you look at automated machine guidance, you’ve got to be able to model. You’ve got to build a complete 3-D model. It’s got to be a smart model. It’s got to have everything in it in order to do your construction with it.”
Of course, information modeling for roads puts up challenges that office buildings don’t face. A big one is that you’ve got to take into account the curvature of the Earth.
Another challenge is different requirements in every state.
“Only one state organization has approved having the model as the engineer record,” said Gant. “Everybody else has still got to have paper or digital paper—2-D.”
Companies like Bentley are accommodating the 2-D requirements by building 3-D models that can instantly output horizontal and vertical plans for the final engineering record.