With an estimated cost of more than NZ $700m (including maintenance over 25 years), the 18km Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway extension includes a road corridor that cuts through steep hills and valleys, and the creation of seven bridges including three viaducts. Combine this with the cutting of 7 million cubic metres of earth (and the filling of 5 million), and the challenge of soft alluvial sediments – and it’s easy to see why a project wide ground model is essential as a basis for geotechnical design, and to mitigate project risk.
The objective of any ground investigation is to mitigate project risk.
Embarking on a massive infrastructure project through an area of complex geology, including volcanoes, requires a very clear assessment of the ground conditions. This demanding task fell on the shoulders of global engineering and infrastructure advisory company, Aurecon. Any unforeseen delays could significantly impact the success of the high profile project, which cuts through the densely populated area of Auckland and is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand.
To help attain and communicate this detailed technical analysis, Aurecon used Seequent’s 3D geological modelling solution, Leapfrog Works, a tool specifically designed for the Civil Engineering and Environmental industries.
By Seequent Civil & Environmental Product Manager Pat McLarin
“If you design something based on out of date information, and perhaps order incorrect materials, the impacts could be cost overruns, scheduling hits or expensive machinery sitting unused.”
Was it version 8 or version 9?
Are your engineers working to the latest 3D model published this morning? Or are they about to make an expensive and time-consuming mistake because they didn’t receive the most up to date revision with that one key alteration?
Version management can be just as complex a process as wrestling with data interoperability – and could even carry more risk.
While geology is generally thought to be static, at least during a construction project lifecycle, our understanding of it will change dramatically as a project progresses. New data will frequently change the design and details of a project, sometimes significantly. It’s vital to know that everyone involved understands there’s a new geological interpretation and is working from the correct one.
Leapfrog Works’ latest release – version 2.1 – steps up 3D geological modellings ability to integrate with BIM models, with the inclusion of two key export formats, the BIM Industry Foundation Class (IFC) and Autodesk Drawing (DWG).
The release continues our major development programme to provide a subsurface solution specifically for the Civil Engineering and Environmental industries.
Leapfrog Works Project Manager, Pat McLarin, explains, “To date BIM has mainly been focused on vertical infrastructure, with much of the detail relating to design and structural decisions now incorporated into BIM models, even down to minute decisions such as wallpaper. However, the ground conditions on which the entire structure rests have not been adequately included. This means that BIM users do not have a detailed enough vision of how the geology is impacting and could impact on future decisions, exposing projects to risk. And the workflows used to bring geology into BIM have been adhoc and manual and aren’t able to make the best use of the data and the geologist’s full geological interpretation.”
“The issues that swirl around data, from openness to ethics, and innovation to automation, are vast and varied. We see many different attitudes towards it in the industries we serve.”
How will the smarter use of data transform the Civil Engineering and Environmental sectors in the next few years?
It’s an issue we’ve set out to explore in the latest edition of Unearthed, the technology and innovation report produced by the Seequent team behind Leapfrog Works – our 3D geological modelling software.
You can download the report with all the new features here.
On 24th May 2018, leaders from Singapore’s civil and environmental engineering industries gathered together at the New Zealand High Commission to join the conversation about digital innovation in ground engineering.
With expansive views across the Singapore skyline, invited guests and speakers came together to network, discuss and engage. The presentations were spearheaded by Seequent’s General Manager for Civil and Environmental, Daniel Wallace, who shared Seequent’s vision of the future. Daniel explained how Leapfrog Works, a revolutionary solution to understanding, visualising and communicating ground conditions, is the only 3D sub-surface modelling solution specifically designed for the engineering sector and as such addresses many challenges costing the industry time and money.
To showcase Leapfrog Works in action, special invited guests from Penta-Ocean Construction Company Ltd, explained how they are using Leapfrog Works to better understand ground conditions in Singapore. Speakers Michelle Lee, BIM Manager and Edward Armstrong, Senior Engineering Geologist, took the audience through their VDC (Virtual Design & Construction) roadmap and explained how Leapfrog Works enabled them to reduce risk both financially and in Health and Safety, ultimately advancing how they complete geological modelling.
“We were delighted that Penta-Ocean accepted our invitation to showcase their recent Singaporean engineering project,” says Daniel Wallace. “The event was a great success. It was a real honour to meet with industry leaders, some for the first time and others we know well, and to be able to also demonstrate Leapfrog Works hands-on in the event’s Discovery Zone.”
By Seequent Product Manager PJ Hollenbeck
All projects have their challenges, but those with a fast turnaround have a special set of problems and pressures.
A succession of accelerated construction deadlines may call for rapid iteration of geological models to meet the shrinking timelines. You might need to develop multiple hypotheses from the data you have, often in a very short space of time.
That would be ok if the software you were using was built from the ground-up specifically with geologic modelling in mind, but often it isn’t. Instead, you may be relying on tools co-opted from another industry or discipline and not intended for the ‘artform’ of geological modelling. Not only will that tend to make the initial modeling process slow and difficult, but when new data comes in – as it frequently will – it could take days, even weeks to update the model. Meanwhile, the project is already underway and costing money.
By Seequent Product Manager, Pat McLarin
Collaboration is key in the success of any ground engineering or environmental services project.
However, while the teams involved may be keen to share their data, ideas and detailed designs with others on the site, the software they are using may have different ideas.
Human collaboration can be tripped up by the difficulty of getting different data formats to work together. That shouldn’t be the case, though it’s not hard to see why it happens.
Every stage of a project’s workflow requires its own software package. Ground investigations, topological surveys, GIS, engineering designs, geological and geotechnical models will all have their own variations as each specialist area has its own particular outcome to achieve. That will shape the data format, leading, inevitably, to many of those formats being incompatible.
This can make progressing from step to step difficult, costly and frustrating. Technical experts can waste valuable time manipulating data – sometimes manually, sometimes through multiple software packages – and risk losing key information along the way.
Before you start one of the largest bored excavation projects in the world, you need to be very sure of the ground beneath your feet.
In preparation for the massive West Gate Tunnel project in Melbourne, Australia, it fell to geotechnical services firm Golder Associates to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the geological risk before work could begin.
Faced with a complex and often deceptive geology they employed the ground engineering 3D implicit modelling solution offered by Leapfrog Works to deliver an exhaustive assessment, then communicate its findings to a variety of stakeholders from a wide range of disciplines. What Leapfrog Works uncovered was to have a direct impact on the route the tunnels took, and the success of the contractors who used its data to shape their plans.
As the world goes digital, is Civil Engineering losing the race for productivity, ideas and innovation?
It seems that whatever the industry, whatever the sector, you’ll hear the same rally cry: “we need to go digital”.
It’s become a 21st century business obsession with the promise of greater efficiency and productivity, faster and more sure-footed innovation and new ways of dealing with old problems. Not to mention the fact that many customers now clamour for digital solutions, drawn by the cost savings they can bring.
But even though the potential is vast, the pace of digital transformation varies considerably across different industries. So how is the Civil Engineering sector doing?