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Planning for a model future

Managing geotechnical risk, which most geotechnical engineers would think is a good idea, and Business Information Modelling (BIM) that most geotechnical engineers seem to view with some caution, possibly verging on reluctance, were both featured in the February edition of GE and we wonder how many readers appreciate that these two are going to be closely related.

In the interview with Paul Maliphant, as the UK author of the new international report on he highlighted the need in the UK for education and training in risk, including the creation of robust ground models (a point raised by your correspondent in that issue in Christina Jackson’s letter on geotechnical asset management). BIM will reveal those who can deliver robust ground models from those who cannot, for as Neville Glanville highlights in his Talking Point, BIM is about sharing information, and that will include sharing it with those who do not know how to interpret it.

Whether geotechnical companies find BIM increases the risk they carry or decreases it, as it should when done properly, will very much depend on the standard of in-house geology, including its geographic, hydrological and environmental components, and on an understanding of how such data and information should be safely communicated. Neither are trivial subjects and the latter will almost certainly require dedicated staff who will also need training. As Neville Glanville says, “BIM must be viewed as a business process rather than a technology”, and he is correct; the ground model which will keep you out of trouble and BIM will not come as an off-the-shelf program. There is more to it than that.

Training in the validation, interpretation and communication of ground models for use in a BIM system will be needed before such models can be employed without increasing a company’s exposure to risk. 

Michael de Freitas and Andrew Thompson, Ground Models, info@groundmodels.com 

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