The advantages of using technology and digital workflows are well documented when it comes to productivity improvements, faster issue resolution and overall project efficiency—and now those capabilities are increasingly built into contractual requirements. As an example, the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (formerly known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) includes money for advanced digital construction management systems and related technologies. One of the key objectives of this program is to maximize interoperability with other systems, products, tools, or applications. In fact, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law calls out 3D modeling and digi- tal twin technology specifically, as does the Every Day Counts (EDC) program, an initiative of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to encourage states to deploy proven technologies and processes that boost safety and efficiency. As infrastructure spending ramps up, engineering firms – particularly civil and structural engineers – are uniquely positioned to drive digital ecosystems that significantly streamline infrastructure projects. To- day’s digital focus is an opportunity for engineers to collaborate more Engineering a Digital Bridge: What’s Your Role? By Ed Shappell
efficiently with other project stakeholders, improve the way the infra- structure of the future is built, and even open up new digital workflows and services opportunities. Owner Perspectives Any engineering firm that works in the public space is likely familiar with the FHWA’s EDC program, the initiative designed to help owners deploy and benefit from digital solutions. The latest initiative, EDC6, spotlights data, or more specifically digital as-builts. Already, digital as-builts have been shown to save time and improve safety. Digital information, such as 3D design models and other meta- data, enhances the future usability of as-built plans for operations, maintenance, and asset management. According to FHWA, the number of state transportation agencies attaining the demonstration, assess- ment or institutionalized stages of digital as-builts is expected to grow from 10 in early 2021 to 27 by end of 2022. The focus is on improved data creation, collection and integration throughout the project, resulting in a complete and accurate digital twin at project completion/project delivery. While the value of these digital practices and digital information is clear, the process to achieve full success is a bit more complex. In recent years, the focus on developing digital as-builts has been on surveyors and contractors. However, engineers play a critical role in the process to communicate designs to owners and bridge the gap be- tween engineering models and constructible models.
Norway’s Randselva Bridge is the longest bridge in the world to be designed and constructed using only Bridge Information Modeling technology and no traditional paper drawings.
February 2022 csengineermag.com
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