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BIM for dry bulk terminals

BIM (building information modelling) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a construction project. It is changing how buildings, infrastructure and utilities are planned, designed, built and managed.  Implemented correctly, it gets the right information to the right people at the right time, helping firms innovate and compete.

BIM allows the virtual construction of a facility prior to its actual physical construction, in order to reduce uncertainty, improve safety, work out problems, and simulate and analyse potential impacts. Maritime inputs into a BIM dry bulk terminal can include essential port terminal information so it is effectively communicated to the contractor, operator, concessionaire and end user.

The aim of this project was to develop and implement a specific dry bulk terminal model within a BIM framework. This was done in order to understand the application of the BIM methodology for the specific application of dry bulk terminal facility and how the BIM tool can be used to assist project clients from the master planning phase, via design and construction, through to the operational stage.

The implementation of a BIM model for dry bulk terminals can be done with a wide variety of software in relation to the type of elements, geometry and requirements.

One of the first inputs of the BIM model is the bathymetry and topography around the terminal as well as to set up the coordinates system. All the geotechnical investigation information can be incorporated and displayed in the model at the exact point where the data was surveyed.

Based on the design vessel dimensions, the required access channel depth and berthing pocket can be represented, indicating the total dredging volumes, type of material, dredging equipment and capacity rates.

According to the site tide levels as well as the maximum vessel draft, the position of the vessel according to the water level can be modified for a particular stage of the tide. It enables a better representation of any design scenario in order to study the vessel operations when berthing and while loading/unloading.

BIM is a very powerful tool that has a potential to influence the design and construction process of a port terminals. Sub-contractors involved in the construction and fit-out processes have the opportunity to input critical information into the model before beginning construction, increasing the opportunities to pre-fabricate or pre-assemble some systems off-site. Quantities and properties of materials required for the construction can be readily extracted from the model.

A mature BIM model can integrate useful information regarding the general and detailed layout of the terminal, materials, equipment, civil works, geotechnical characteristics, mechanical and electrical services, specifications and 3D geometries suitable for extraction into other software packages for further specialist analysis.

BIM skills and services are increasingly being requested for maritime and ports projects. Push by governments to implement BIM on public projects will increase over the next few years, as BIM has positive impact on both efficiency and safety aspects of design and construction processes. BIM minimises errors by enabling clash detection, for instance where parts of the structural frame conflict with building services.

BIM facilitates lean and efficient construction management. Products and materials required during construction can be delivered on a just-in-time basis rather than being stockpiled on-site using programme and sequencing packages with the model.

During subsequent use of the completed harbour facility, real-time tracking and management of the bulk material can be integrated with the BIM model to provide a virtual snapshot of all processes underway at the terminal at any time, within an accurate spatial context of the completed facility.   This operational modelling within the BIM can include off/on loading progress rates, critical deadlines, incoming and outgoing vessels/trucks, security checks by port authority etc.  Such integrated modelling of activities, timelines and spatial locations is of huge potential benefit to shipping lines, shipping agents, freight transporters, port authorities and end users (customers).