Luis Madruga (Cascais, 1984) is an architect almost an engineer thanks to BIM. He was introduced to this emerging methodology born in the building sector and today he assures that its potential in infrastructures is enormous.
How did you become involved in BIM?
I studied it for years by myself because I had a feeling it was going to be a real game changer. It was also a chance to grow professionally. When I moved from Portugal to Seville, I felt I had to take on new challenges as an architect, and BIM allowed me to delve into other fields.
Engineering is ready to embrace BIM, but is BIM fully compatible with the world of infrastructure?
Lots of the software used was designed for architecture and construction. Moreover, the IFC model (Industry Foundation Classes – an open file format specification which allows data to be exchanged) is still unable to handle information relating to linear infrastructure, such as roads, railway lines and tunnels. The world of engineering is beginning to adopt BIM, but there is still a long way to go. We need to create software and standards suitable for all types of infrastructure.
To achieve this, software providers need to work together to increase interoperability. Unfortunately, this is something we’re still not seeing. However, the new version of IFC currently being developed will allow this kind of infrastructure to be handled.
How is the migration from CAD to BIM going in the world of engineering?
A lot of progress has been made in recent years. A few years ago, the use of BIM became compulsory for all public sector projects over a certain value in Spain. This means that the Seville and Malaga metro systems, two major infrastructure projects on the horizon in Andalusia, will be done using BIM.
However, it’s a gradual process as there are still many clients who have never heard of BIM, so it’s going to be some time yet until we see it being used across the board. It will mainly depend on the size of the work and the client.
Nevertheless, tenders for major infrastructure projects all over the world are including the use of BIM as compulsory in their specifications. Examples include airports in South America and metro systems around the world, a particularly salient example being the Delhi Metro.
It’s important to bear in mind that the ultimate goal of using BIM is not to have a BIM model, but to make use of an extremely helpful and practical tool for improving designs, construction management, costs, maintenance and operations. At Ayesa, we’re already submitting bids involving the digitalisation of infrastructure such as airports in order to use BIM in subsequent phases.
Does BIM enhance productivity on projects?
BIM means all areas of Ayesa are now working together more closely, something which allows us to achieve a better end result and track the entire process much more effectively for the client. We’re now using BIM more and more, an extremely positive move for our clients. The design phase is more complex when using BIM, however the benefits for the client, the end user, make it worthwhile.
BIM is beginning to be used throughout Europe and beyond, in fact some countries have been using it for years. We know what we have to do and we’re on the way to achieving it – build more, more quickly and more efficiently. This is something BIM allows us to do. We’re in the information age and using BIM for projects means having a wealth of information about the entire infrastructure at your fingertips right from the design phase.
Are delivery times longer or shorter compared with when CAD is used?
For the time being, we’re not seeing delivery times being cut because each individual involved in the projects has a different amount of experience with BIM. What is true is that we used to begin with very little information, whilst now we have a 3D model right from the start. This means we are able to obtain much more information in the same amount of time. Nevertheless, CAD will continue to be used well into the future.
The use of BIM was preferable in 49% of public sector infrastructure projects. Is the implementation of BIM in Spain going well?
Spain has come a long way, and Ayesa is a leader here and around the world in this area. This is seen by the major projects we’re currently involved in alongside Scandinavian and UK clients. There’s no doubting we’re at the forefront of the BIM revolution.
Are there areas for improvement?
Yes – we need more initiatives. There are groups, such as es.BIM, which publishes standards and works on technology in this area, but it is architecture and engineering firms which are really leading the way and using BIM on projects all over the world. Major infrastructure projects run by the Regional Government of Andalusia which use BIM are also extremely valuable for gaining experience.
How are clients reacting to this change?
The biggest challenge we have is getting clients to see the benefits BIM can bring to their projects. It allows for greater control by creating a digital model, which can be used to foresee all the obstacles we’d come up against later on in the project. Unsurprisingly, this means greater quality and savings.
What are the challenges involved in undertaking projects using BIM?
The main one is a lack of knowledge by many of those involved in projects, who are unaware of what using BIM really means. We’re not simply talking about new software, but a shift in mentality and a completely new way of carrying out designs and infrastructure projects.
Can you tell us a bit about the benefits BIM has brought to your projects?
During the preliminary study phase, we’ve identified design issues well before we would have done otherwise. As a result, we’ve been able to make the necessary corrections and improvements.
As experts from many different areas, including architecture, structures, electrical installations, mechanics, water, fire resistance, layout, signalling, etc., all work together on a single model, we’re able to spot errors right away.
Moreover, virtual reality has become a key part of BIM. For example, in terms of signalling systems, it allows us to run 3D simulations of the journey a train takes from the position of the conductor and thus ensure the location of signalling equipment is correct, as well as effective performance curves.
At Ayesa, we’re making full use of virtual reality simulations for the projects we’re currently involved in.
Your main project at the moment is the high-speed train line connecting Delhi and Meerut. Can you tell us how it’s going?
Currently, the biggest challenge we face is implementing our standards and way of working at all our offices worldwide, including in India. To do this, it’s important we all work together. For example, in India, there have been occasions where the team have started following one standard or another, or a particular way of working, and this has resulted in ideas from them leading to new tools being developed. There’s no doubting this approach is extremely beneficial and enriching for the entire company.
Where is India in terms of BIM?
India is an enormous country. In the transport sector, despite the fact that we have very strong international competitors, leaders in BIM in their home countries, we’re managing to secure project after project. In fact, we’ve been carrying out projects using BIM for many years in India, obvious examples being the Lucknow and Mumbai metros. We’re currently designing four stations for the country’s first high-speed rail line, which is set to join Delhi and Meerut. Ayesa has also been awarded its biggest contract to date in India to provide general consulting services for this pioneering project. It’s a big challenge and I feel very fortunate to be involved. We’re applying the lessons we’ve learnt in this area and helping our client, NCRTC, to introduce this technology.
What measures has Ayesa taken to promote the use of BIM?
We have a BIM Committee, led by the Head of Technology and Engineering Processes, Fidel San Emeterio. It is made up of engineers, modellers and experts from many other fields. Also, each division has its own BIM Manager and each project a BIM Coordinator. We’re responsible for creating standards, organising training and introducing BIM in the projects our area is involved in.
Are we seeing a new profession based on BIM?
I wouldn’t say it’s a new profession as such, but it will undoubtedly attract experts from all fields. For example, we’re hiring programmers to create scripts to help us manage information included on BIM models and increase interoperability with other systems. In fact, programming has been a key part of BIM right from the very beginning. Process automation is where the sector is headed, and BIM is set to play an important role in helping us achieve this. Repetitive tasks will soon be a thing of the past.
En Ayesa ya estamos presentando ofertas de digitalización de infraestructuras como aeropuertos para poder utilizar luego aplicar BIM en fases posteriores.