3D Modeling as a Tool for all Phases: Practical Applications and Benefits of 3D


  • Kristen Barrett, Phil Nower, Richard Peters - Hazen and Sawyer

A $1 billion water treatment facility, $17 million wastewater reuse facility, and a $7 million water pumping station have few things in common except they each have benefited from using 3D modeling. Although different in size, scale and complexity they were each executed using a traditional project delivery approach of design, bid and build (DBB), and 3D models of each facility were developed. In the early phase of the project the model serves to provide the Owner an early view and enhanced understanding of their facility, while in a later phase can also serve as a tool for operations training in advance of start-up. During the design process 3D models are valuable in increasing inter-discipline design coordination and reducing conflicts within contract documents. The 3D model powerful beyond coordination and conflict resolution can be used for the creation of equipment schedules, quantity take-offs, and other engineering needs to improve both design efficiency and quality. The value of the model does not end once bids are received; when the project moves into construction contractors find many beneficial uses of the model to aid their construction activities.

Making use of 3D modeling tools during the construction is thought to be easier to implement under the Design Build (DB) project delivery approach as the Engineer and Contractor are working together as partners from the start. Although this can be the case, these three projects demonstrate that 3D design and construction tools can successfully be implemented in the municipal water market where the DBB project delivery is often utilized. Owners and engineers that are seeking to gain greater value from the 3D model during all phases of the project life cycle will see how it has aided three projects; specifically in the areas of work planning and scheduling, change estimating and shop drawing development just to name a few. The $1 billion facility is being constructed by one of the world’s largest construction companies, on the forefront of the latest technology, in contrast to the significantly smaller $17 million facility being constructed by a local contractor. On both projects, the contract documents did not require the contractors to use the 3D model for construction purposes rather each contractor choose to take advantage of the available data and latest technology for trade coordination, scheduling and shop drawing production (4D).

In summary, use of 3D model design and construction tools on projects big or small is gaining both acceptance and practical use in the water industry. Similarly, contractors of all sizes and skill sets are finding ways to make use of the latest technology independent of the project delivery method and contract document requirements. This presentation will include examples of the 3D design model, conflict resolution, 2D contract drawings produced from the 3D model, 4D scheduling and shop drawings produced from the 3D design model.

For more information, please contact the author at kbarrett@hazenandsawyer.com.

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Horizons Fall 2017 (pdf)

Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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