McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities

The digital transformation of the construction industry is moving full steam ahead and McConnell Dowell’s digital engineering team is keeping pace, utilising a wide range of systems and technologies to deliver some of the most complex, large-scale projects around the country.

The fast-growing development of new construction technologies is changing the way the industry builds in terms of speed, efficiency and safety. As the release of artificial intelligence (AI), building information modelling (BIM) and automated data collection technologies heightens, McConnell Dowell’s digital engineering (DE) team is at the front line, leveraging new techniques, systems and technologies to take its operations to the next level.

McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities
Tom Gill, Group Engineering Services Manager at McConnell Dowell.

Tom Gill is the Group Engineering Services Manager at McConnell Dowell and oversees the company’s temporary works design and digital engineering capability. Joining the McConnell Dowell Group in 2008, he says the company’s DE capabilities have grown exponentially. “McConnell Dowell’s DE team has always been a driving force in adopting technologies that help us to deliver the best possible outcome for our clients,” says Gill. “Digital engineering for us continues to broaden in scope.”

“DE has evolved from being very BIM centric, and today there’s a myriad of tools that are available to us that we’re either using or developing capability (for) – our approach today is much more progressive.”

The construction industry continues to become more digitally enabled and companies in the sector are realising that without a strong, competent DE capability, they will fall behind. The complexities of construction and infrastructure projects are also on the rise, and with them the need for advanced and innovative solutions.

In March 2020 the Victorian Government released the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (VDAS) along with the VDAS Guidance document in an effort to lead a consistent and modern approach to digital engineering and BIM, and to standardise technology adoption in major capital and renewal projects.

Similarly, in Southeast Asia digital transformation has accelerated in many government agencies. For instance, McConnell Dowell’s client, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore has launched its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 that focuses on connected systems, autonomous and on-demand services, new technologies and the innovative design of local infrastructure.

Government clients worldwide are increasingly including complex and detailed design specifications that can’t be outsourced, explains Gill.

“The digital capability to deliver these projects needs to be embedded into how you do business, and that’s where I believe our DE team’s core direction is heading,” says Gill. “We have the ability to lead the charge in those complex markets, due to our open-minded and forward-thinking approach to DE.”

Also in the engineering services team, Chris Theis, Senior Digital Engineering Manager at McConnell Dowell, works to develop the company’s DE standards, and repeatability and consistency in the way its teams implement DE on projects. He says to keep pace with the industry, or outpace where possible, McConnell Dowell is ramping up its digital capability.

McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities
Chris Theis, Senior Digital Engineering Manager at McConnell Dowell.

“We’re a group that utilises and develops technology to seek efficiencies and advancements to something that’s been done the same way for hundreds of years – and it’s not incremental change either,” says Theis. “If you look at the possibilities in construction today versus what was done 100 years ago without technology, it’s chalk and cheese.”

“DE is a technology driven process but with that said, we need to take an approach to DE where we are technology agnostic to some degree.

“We can’t put all of our eggs in one technology basket, because technology comes and goes, evolves and changes, so we think strategically about the tools we use.”

McConnell Dowell’s DE team has used DE widely across various projects and is on track to define the minimum DE standard on every single project McConnell Dowell Group delivers.

One project currently underway that is digitally enabled is The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) Stage 3 Redevelopment in South Australia. Built Environs, the building business unit of McConnell Dowell, is delivering the project with all the key design and construct (D&C) trades and modelling hosted on a web-based common data environment. This provides the project team the visibility of a live, in progress virtual model of the entire project.

“We can see at any point in time how the design and trade models are progressing,” says Theis. “The model is the first point of call for the project team.”

“All members of the team have access to this; they don’t need fancy software, they don’t need to know how to use complicated BIM tools, it’s all available on an iPad or through a web browser – an example of the increasing accessibility and transparency of DE information.”

Throughout the project, the model is being used to improve coordination, says Theis, and ensures materials are installed right the first time, eliminating the costs and additional time associated with rework.

Related stories:

McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities
Coordinated plant room model for the TQEH Project.

“This approach protects the project program,” says Theis. “It allows us to identify elements of technical and safety risk in a centralised, model-based environment.”

“The TQEH Stage 3 Redevelopment is a good example of our DE team utilising technology to take a very organised approach to a project, and we’re getting consistent usage of that project data.”

Further, McConnell Dowell’s Tom Gill says a highlight for him is seeing how enabled the whole of industry is on the hospital project. He says the subcontractors who are not traditionally proficient in DE have come a long way in the last 10 years.

“To an extent, subcontractors are leading the charge under our guidance and coordination,” Gill says. “It’s refreshing to see that it’s not just the main contractors or the clients who are pushing the digital agenda, subcontractors are jumping on board.”

It’s not just the odd project that McConnell Dowell Group is delivering with these technologies. The company has entrenched technology across its operations and continues to evolve its capabilities in the digital space, placing itself in a dynamic position where every project it starts is set to be an improvement on the last.

This is evident in McConnell Dowell’s delivery of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Rail Duplication in Victoria. The project includes elevated rail bridges for level crossing removals, around eight kilometres of track duplication and signalling upgrades, as well as new station buildings at Marshall and South Geelong with forecourts, second platforms and accessible pedestrian overpasses. Gill says it’s a really good example of a well set up and well managed, digitally-enabled infrastructure job.

“The team, together with Alliance partners, has worked to develop a data rich model,” says Gill. “This has then set them up with a solid base to start plugging in some more innovative tools into the project’s digital ecosystem.”

“They’re also leveraging a well-developed geographic information system (GIS) to report and present the utility arrangements to all members of the project, not just those who have access to the 3D modelling.

“Working around utilities is always a high risk on our projects, and to have a tool that allows someone in an excavator to open up a web-based photo mapped utilities arrangement, so they know exactly what to expect when they are digging, strengthens safety onsite.”

McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities
Utility models using GIS to overlay on photo-capture surfaces.

McConnell Dowell has also adopted Trimble SiteVision, explains Gill, an outdoor augmented reality system. This allows site teams to visualise the utilities below the ground through a model overlay on their smartphone camera, before and anytime during the works – to survey accuracy.

McConnell Dowell’s DE team embraces the opportunity to do things better. With a flood of technologies on the market, the team will assess a new tool before incorporating it into its ecosystem. “If the value add is there, then we will put the tool to use on a particular project,” says Gill. “We’re now reviewing the various tools being used across our projects to identify the value in adopting them on every project going forward.”

The company’s Senior Digital Engineering Manager, Chris Theis agrees. He says the team is not in a situation where it is implementing technology just for the sake of it.

“There’s a dangerous potential to fall into a trap of adopting every technology thrown our way, but there’s more technology out there than we can realistically deploy,” says Theis. “There is an expectation in our business that any new tool that we implement has to be solving a problem, providing an efficiency and bringing something new to the table.”

Currently, McConnell Dowell’s DE team is developing capabilities in the more immersive technologies. In particular, the team is exploring the use of gaming engines to produce a digital visualisation of a project, which Tom Gill says is a far more powerful environment in which to visualise a model than traditional technologies or methods.

“The use of gaming engines in the construction space introduces a whole new capability around animations and is far more interactive than anything we’ve seen before,” says Gill. “We’re also developing AI applications that can simulate the world around us so we’re not just building a nice-looking environment and walking through it.”

“We’re developing environments that can interact with the user in the interface, and that digital environment can include anything from construction vehicles, rail lines, plant and equipment to pedestrians and construction workers.

“The long-term goal of developing capability around this technology is for us to be able to deliver immersive safety training and construction tools that can accurately replicate a construction site or methodology sequence that can then be interrogated allowing risks to be identified and mitigated.

“You can even have virtual incidents occur and resolve them in the virtual world before you then step out and try it for the first time onsite.”

Chris Theis explains that this technology currently has a very specific scope to it but has huge potential to be rolled out across the business in the future. The DE team can basically build any functionality it needs within the gaming engine and requires little coding to do so.

“The low code environment means we don’t need a team of software developers to do this stuff,” says Theis. “While these engines use a lot of visual programming techniques, you can build a fair bit of functionality rapidly with minimal coding input.”

As for the future of McConnell Dowell’s DE capabilities, Tom Gill says the sky is the limit. “The granularity of information that we will be able to extract from digital models in the near future will be far beyond what we’re doing today,” he says. “We’re already seeing some clients talk about the delivery of not just the physical, but also the digital asset and as a contractor, we’re committed to delivering on those expectations.”

BIM, AI and gaming engines are just the beginning for McConnell Dowell’s DE team.

The post McConnell Dowell builds on its digital engineering capabilities appeared first on Inside Construction.

View Source

Ver fuente