How Can BIM be Useful for Underground Construction?

Construction Tech Review | Monday, September 28, 2020

How Can BIM be Useful for Underground Construction?

Underground construction is more challenging compared to the above-ground construction; therefore, Constructions companies are adopted BIM for underground to ease the process.

FREMONT, CA: There is a lack of information and data on the subsurface environments, like an on existing buried infrastructure, including pipes, groundwater, and geology. This lack of information can have a massive impact on future planning within urban underground space and on construction activities in order to maintain, repair, upgrade and install new buried infrastructure. Also, the nature of the subsurface environment is usually chaotic, and even the routes and the condition of buried infrastructure typically are not visible. These facts can be attributed to the lack of planning and regulation of subsurface space usage. A useful tool to demonstrate information on the buried infrastructure and ground conditions together with the above-ground information offers a valuable tool. To achieve these goals, a Building Information Model (BIM) for underground applications has been proposed.

Many new buildings have an as-built model detailing all their structural and construction information. However, most BIMs do not possess any information on the subsurface ground conditions or buried infrastructure in the vicinity of the building. Thus, a BIM for underground applications that consists of information on above and below-ground infrastructure both would help in enhanced planning and engineering risk analyses. The proposed modelling environment might overcome the lack of detailed 3D representations provided by BIM and issues related to tools like GIS that are mainly used for large-scale spatial applications. The proposed model would also complement a particular advanced modelling environment that is being developed currently.

The buried infrastructure information obtained from mapping surveys can be added to the building models to create a 3D overview of all surface and subsurface physical infrastructure. However, to create a complete BIM that includes underground information, geological and ground conditions must also be added to the model.

This geological information can be secured from ground investigations of the site and its locality. Borehole information can be converted into a 3D geological model. However, 3D geological models are an interpretation of the discrete location data, and experienced geologists and geotechnical engineers are generally needed to produce the final model. Hence, it is crucial to understand such characteristic of the model and not perceive it as absolute truth. This judgement and experience captured in geological ground models or BIMs into which they are integrated might be extremely useful if the models are to be used by future engineers. Nevertheless, this integration is not currently performed.

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