Mitigating Uncertainty in Infrastructure Projects

7 February 2023Architecture and Engineering, autodesk, Autodesk Construction Cloud, Connected Construction, Construction, Digital Transformation, RevitAutodesk docs, design build, Infrastructure, reality capture, VDC

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As explained by a 2019 ScienceDirect article, development of infrastructure – i.e. airports, highways, bridges, railroads, ports, telecommunications – is one of the most important ways to boost business for multiple industries and increase a country’s gross domestic product.

With advancements in technology and operations, infrastructure projects have become larger and more complex, with a diverse set of contractors and subcontractors. Considering most bids are based on time and materials – both of which fluctuate – inevitably there is risk involved.

Because of supply chain issues, an inflation rate at a 40-year high and reduced buying power, the big infrastructure projects that were anticipated to begin chipping away at the country’s funding-starved backlog don’t seem to be materializing.

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photo of infrastructure, steel bridge across a river, blue sky and yellow clouds near sunset

As a January 2023 article in Engineering News-Record describes, big infrastructure projects that are still design-bid-build are attracting fewer companies in the bidding process. In addition, officials are facing a discrepancy between what projects are now expected to cost as compared to their original estimates, potentially as old as a few years, during which the cost of certain construction materials may have doubled or tripled. Agencies behind some infrastructure projects have warned of possible delays or reduced project scope as inflation erodes their buying power. In a trickle-down effect, if contractors drop out because of issues with labor and materials, those projects need to be rebid.

Increasing use of design-build processes using building information modeling (BIM) with Revit could provide one way to deal with the uncertainties around infrastructure construction.

With BIM, project teams can visualize a project model with a reality capture tool and detect design errors and conflicts at an early stage before they cost money or delay the schedule. BIM can also reduce waste and mitigate risks of volatile costs, which can become an exponential problem when materials counts/quantities are wrong.

In December 2022, ConstructionDive.com reported that prices for softwood lumber, iron, steel, and steel mill products were dropping. The National Association of Home Builders also reported that truck freight transportation had slightly declined. Yet, there is still an element of guesswork involved in anticipating and estimating prices a year or two down the road. But that can be assuaged somewhat by the accuracy resulting from a BIM process.

BIM and VDC (virtual design and construction) enable project teams to develop 3D models for precise planning – optimizing the use of materials, equipment and labor to reduce the risk of overruns. In addition, the use of BIM in the cloud during construction with a product like Autodesk Docs enables teams to work collaboratively on a single model to coordinate effective outcomes. Software tools, standards, a common language, and shared templates, like those in Autodesk Build, can unite teams for the best project outcome. They can access the project model from any location and stay apprised of changes in real time.  

Using photos, videos, details, markups, and other information contained in the 3D BIM model, data doesn’t get lost. Managers can track project progress, better allocate resources, and avoid hazards and delays.

Construction companies benefit from fostering relationships with all stakeholders, especially subcontractors, and having them participate in the construction project from the earliest stages in a BIM process. Using tools on the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform allows predictability, productivity and reduced waste on current and future projects. Delivering better projects eliminates waste and reduces cost, making better use of available capital.


 

 

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