RPS is growing its revenue and profits thanks to a strategy that places an emphasis on CPD, collaboration and innovation. Mark Costello, Director BIM, RPS talks about the exciting developments in BIM in RPS over the past number of years.
Adapting through CPD
The construction industry operates in an extremely competitive marketplace, having to continuously innovate and improve efficiencies to survive. Over the past number of years, RPS have increased our market share in the UK, particularly for large scale infrastructural projects. In so doing, we recognised the significant step change in service delivery that was required on foot of the new collaborative working requirements stipulated by the British Cabinet in 2011 and the requirement for “3D BIM”.
We had introduced “Early BIM” into our working systems in 2007, and limited advancements were made. We delivered projects where BIM had not been part of the design process, commonly known as “Lonely BIM”. On this basis, we committed to developing the skills and expertise required to make us market leaders in BIM.
We established a BIM Working Group to build on the systems already in place, and to track and document our advances in BIM. These advances, and the requirement for focused BIM training and development were presented to the management board to gain support. This support allowed us to develop a Strategic Plan for BIM upskilling which aligned our Company Strategy, our BIM Technical Services Strategy and our Human Resources Strategy.
In parallel with these initiatives, we collaborated with local academic institutions to seek out suitable training courses in BIM to enable upskilling. When such a course wasn’t available, we embarked on developing a BIM programme in specifically designed and relevant modules to support evolving BIM technologies in a parallel BIM design process. Delivery of this training commenced on a pilot basis in September 2013 and it has culminated in the award winning (industry/academia collaboration) and formally accredited Higher Diploma in Engineering in BIM (Level 8) delivered by the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). This training is now available to the wider industry, including our supply chain. Five of our staff were the first to graduate from this programme in November 2016.
Pioneering BIM in Infrastructure
Our greatest achievement and learning to date is the innovative use of BIM on the €600m M8/M73/M74 (M8) Motorway Improvements Project, which completes the M8 motorway link between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. RPS is part of a multi-national consortium (Ferrovial/Lagan/Amey/RPS) collectively responsible for the design, commissioning and operation and maintenance of the project on behalf of the Scottish Roads Partnership.
We have produced a fully coordinated and federated model for alignment, structures, drainage, utilities, temporary works, signage, road markings and lighting – on the extremely complicated Raith Interchange. This junction involves the maintenance of heavy live traffic flows during construction and within a very restricted space. Earthworks involved a propped secant pile cutting in loose sand and gravel and under artesian conditions. Located in a flood plain this presented significant flotation problems, requiring a dense array of ground anchors secured into bedrock.
We have increased efficiency and productivity on this project through the innovative use of BIM for traffic management (another first), clash avoidance and value engineering. We were able to extract from our federated model all information required to maximise the integration of temporary road alignments and pavements into the temporary design solutions, minimising work quantity and traffic disruption.
Detailed visualisations of temporary traffic management in 3D and 4D were indispensable as an engagement tool, in that they allowed for understanding in real time of the design proposals and facilitated greater collaboration and better outcomes with local authorities and other stakeholders.
The project has been selected as an Exemplar for the definition of the Scottish BIM Mandate due in April 2017 and was also recipient of the judges’ special commendation at the recent Irish BIM Innovation Awards produced and managed by CitA in association with Irish building magazine.
We are extending BIM from the design stage through the construction phase, creating lifecycle engagement and enriching the model with data to make it useful for future maintenance and operation. This BIM capacity is now facilitating Irish design team participation and leadership in other major infrastructure projects in the UK and Europe.