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The HS2 Vision

2nd December 2014

Phil Downes discusses the role of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the development of HS2...

High Speed 2 will be a groundbreaking project in many ways. As it enters its detailed design phase, it will be the first major public infrastructure project to use Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2 from the outset.

It will be a government requirement to use BIM on all public sector projects by 2016. But apart from this, it is envisaged that this approach will enable better collaboration across the construction supply chain, provide more efficient procurement, result in more effective delivery, and, ultimately, create a digital technical legacy from the construction phase ready for use throughout the scheme’s operational life.

BIM refers to the creation of a single digital design model for a construction project which is shared by all participants in the construction team. Level 2 is key because this provides the basis for a lifelong data model captured from design and provides the base data for all decisions through both construction and operation.

Whilst BIM has been successfully applied to smaller projects, one of the main challenges it faces with HS2 is the sheer scale, not to mention the involvement of many organisations that will all need to pull in the same direction to ensure a consistent and stable base that will provide a solid foundation for the ongoing project. This is a unique opportunity for the entire supply chain to work collaboratively to find the best solutions for HS2 as a whole and to share crucial information on design and best practice, stakeholder interactions, and asset information before and during construction.

Following the construction phase, both the design and construction data created within BIM will form the basis of the operational information required to ensure the railway is run as efficiently as possible with regards to asset base information, design life criteria, operational maintenance information etc.

Incorporating health and safety in to the BIM environment
HS2 obviously understands the risks associated with such a vast project so as well as adopting best practice from the construction world as we know it today, the project will need to further look ahead to continue to improve its health and safety approach. The risks, despite painstaking care, will always remain high - ten workers died during the construction of the Channel tunnel between 1987 and 1993 and whilst we all know significant progress has been made there is still further to go.

Over the last few years we have seen BIM including much more information regarding construction risks that have delivered direct benefits, from understanding the long term risks but also down to the provision of data for site safety briefings. HS2 will adopt these practices and also look to develop these approaches further.

With so many people working on this project it is recognised that the aspects of occupational health will be significant therefore HS2 is conscious it needs to address this area to ensure greater care and planning reduces any future occupational health related issues. To push this frontier Capita-Ineco is undertaking a research and development project to develop a strategy and approach to incorporate occupational health issues from the start.

The base philosophy is to ensure any related occupational health issue can be tagged against the BIM structure and more importantly be used through a process at each stage to ensure minimisation from the outset. The first stage is to consider how to capture occupational health risks and store these within the BIM structure. In order to do this, we have been working with HS2 and also with the Constructing Better Health Scheme that both develops the standards in this area but which is also supporting the industry in improving competency and knowledge.

We are currently developing the next stage of the project to incorporate this base data in to a streamlined process to ensure this information is at the fingertips of all who require it, from designers who have a CDM requirement through recognition on site and in to operations. Considering the size of the project, and the expected numbers of construction workers, this will make a big impact in the longer term where occupational health issues normally appear. It will also be difficult to quantify the benefits unlike standard safety statistics using base data such as accident rate. To try and quantify the benefits, a scorecard will record the reduction of occupational health issues that are removed from the design, the construction process, and railway operating model. This will extend the BIM definition in to Level 3 creating 6D, project management lifecycle management information.

It is envisaged that considerable benefits can be achieved through this approach - as they say ‘prevention is better than cure’ - and only by considering this at the start is it possible to achieve benefits on such a large and important programme of works.

Phil Downes is a director at the Capita-Ineco joint venture which is designing HS2’s Country North section.

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