Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group Brings Information-Based Approach to Civil Engineering Projects

By Akio
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brings info-based approach to #CivilEngineering”

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group has implemented “advanced construction process simulation methods” with the Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience.

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Shanghai Construction Group. The firm has 1,680 employees and is focused on foundation engineering, constructing harbors, bridges, tunnels, and other large structures.

Highly regarded through the construction industry globally, Shanghai Construction Group has built a large number of important, iconic and award-winning projects, all using the latest technologies. To ensure leadership in professional construction technology, the company and its subsidiaries are committed to the pursuit of excellence, continuous innovation in research and development, and rigorous project and process management approaches.

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group conducts a wide range of business activities and face many challenges in the execution of the firm’s construction projects.

“There have been no successful examples of combining information in the civil engineering industry. We hope to instigate our new information-based approach to improve the integration of our stakeholders and increase project management efficiency,” says Yu Zhendong, BIM Institute Director, Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group, Co. Ltd.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “SFEG applies data-driven solution to #civilengineering
projects to improve stakeholder integration & efficiency”

Chenta Bridge Project

Photo Credit: Yang Hui/Global Times

(Construction workers complete the last plat for the Chenta Bridge.
Photo credit: Yang Hui/Global Times)

Using advanced methods, Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group constructed the Chenta Bridge. This was an extremely challenging project, with high complexity and a need for integration among stakeholders and schedules. It led the firm to adopt the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The entire construction process of the Chenta Bridge was implemented in advance through simulations. The team used CATIA to model the entire bridge, based on CATIA design template and parametric modeling.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “The entire #ChentaBridge
construction process was simulated in advance”

Watch this video to learn more about Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group’s Chenta Bridge project:

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group created a framework-driven concept, using actual measured data as inputs to update the model. This way, the digital models would be exactly as same as the real product, based on data obtained from actual onsite measurements.

Identify Potential Risks Early

Comparing the actual model with the original design model allowed them to detect potential risks visually, early in the process.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Comparing construction #simulation to
original model = potential risks detected early in process”

They included all of the critical construction equipment in the model. For example, the scaffolding on the main tower and the cradle platforms. Throughout this process, the equipment, the scene layout, and the design structure were closely linked and interconnected, providing a comprehensive view of this complex project.

“This is one of the main benefits of using Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience,” adds Zhendong. “It allowed us to create a full simulation of the entire construction scheme. It made the entire process more intuitive. From a long-term perspective, the 3D information database management deeply integrated within our projects greatly benefits our entire project management process.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “#OptimizedPlanning creates full simulation
of construction scheme, benefits entire #PM process”

Related Resources

Optimized Planning Industry Process Experience

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction from Dassault Systèmes

Shanghai Foundation Engineering Group

Spotlight on PHI Cubed: Guiding the AEC Industry Toward Greater Levels of Integration

By Akio
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IFC Architecture

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Guiding #AEC Toward Greater Integration”

Hector Lorenzo Camps has set his sights on integrating the AEC industry at its earliest stages.

The former architect and current building information consultant teaches a course on the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform at the University of Miami School of Architecture with the goal of increasing collaboration in all areas of the industry.

He is educating the next generation of designers and contractors, and as he integrates various departments on the school’s campus, he sees the potential to solve the tremendous inefficiency plaguing the industry.

3DEXPERIENCE Platform Reaching students at University of Miami

3DEXPERIENCE Platform teaching students at University of Miami

For Camps, integration — of people, of companies and of technology — is a solution for many of the ills ailing the design and construction industries.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Integration—of people, companies &
technology—is the solution for #AEC” – @HectorCamps

It’s the reason he founded PHI Cubed Inc., a BIM consultancy helping companies integrate their processes and better manage their data as they move to 3D platforms. And the reason the company has found success in its mission is because the AEC industry stands ready to revolutionize design and construction processes and bring new value to every project.

Addressing A Disconnect

As Camps sees it, the single biggest challenge the AEC industry needs to address is the disconnect between designers, contractors and owners. Each party is siloed in their processes, distanced from their product’s final performance, and focused on serving the best interests of their company over the best interest of the project. It’s a disconnect that creates enormous amounts of waste.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Biggest problem for #AEC = each
party is siloed, distanced from final performance.

But as Camps points out, “The industry knows it has a problem. The industry feels the pain and suffering of the loss of profit from the current way that it’s working, and it affects everyone from architects to engineers to owners.”

This problem of waste is finally being addressed on a broader scale as several significant changes take place in the AEC industry:

  1. The industry is recognizing that fragmentation throughout the supply chain is contributing to its inefficiency. More players are recognizing that the high levels of efficiency seen in the manufacturing and aerospace industries can be achieved in design and construction as well. In an effort to further reduce waste and improve quality, the AEC industry is looking to further integrate with manufacturing by closing the gap between design and fabrication.
  2. At long last, the construction industry is becoming more global. As the industry shifts from a local to a multinational business, there is an increased need for infrastructure that allows multinational teams to work together using a design-anywhere, build-anywhere strategy.
  3. As owners become more sophisticated, they’re recognizing that they can benefit from the detailed project data that, in its 2D form, has traditionally been lost upon completion of construction. With the advent of 3D modeling, owners are demanding access to more detailed information that they can leverage for operations and maintenance throughout the building’s lifecycle.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “#AEC owners are now demanding more
detailed info for building lifecycle” @HectorCamps @phicubed1

Integrating a Global Community

Camps sees integration — not only of technology platform, but of people — as the solution for improving AEC business models.

“We think it’s important to manage information and integrate people before we integrate the building process,” Camps says. “When we’ve done it the other way around, and integrated the building but not the people, we’ve created a people problem. And if you have a people problem, you don’t have buy-in from the knowledge workers in the field or adoption of your solutions. You might have an integrated model, but that model won’t make its way out to the field.”

By integrating people and their processes, Camps believes companies can reduce the tremendous knowledge loss that typically occurs at the end of projects when teams separate. He sees solutions such as Optimized Construction as critical to bringing AEC partners together onto the same IT infrastructure, to better facilitate communication between all parties.

“It’s important to get people to collaborate and to manage not only their BIM, but to manage all the documentation related to construction — this includes scheduling, specifications, 2D-3D CAD documents, installation documents, warranty information, and, of course, change management,” Camps says.

Better Integrating Technology

Once design, construction and owner teams are communicating on the same level, then integrated technology can further boost efficiency. However, Camps finds that many software platforms enable the industry’s deficiencies by locking players into a single solution that may not translate from design through fabrication and construction.

With the goal of creating more integrated project documentation, Camps was one of the founders of the buildingSmart Alliance, the North American chapter of buildingSMART International. The organization is dedicated to solving the AEC industry’s interoperability issues by pushing for open BIM standards, allowing all parties to easily access design and construction data no matter what platform they use.

“Our hope is that more vendors will adopt open standards and we’ll be able to share information openly in an integrated way with the platform,” Camps says.

Providing Information Management

PHI Cubed acts much like a guide in the process of managing the immense amounts of information generated by integrated projects. The company was formed in 2006 with the mission of enabling the construction industry building lifecycle to operate as an integrated enterprise in an effort to reduce errors, waste and time.

“I discovered that while everyone generates information on a project, and everyone consumes information on a project, it was no one’s responsibility to manage the information for the life cycle of a project,” Camps says. Today PHI Cubed offers what Camps calls “the other BIM: building information management.”

The company helps the industry transition from a 2D, paper-based process to an integrated 3D, data-rich process.

“There’s a cultural change that’s happening, as contractors and engineers are starting to rely more on the model and database as their single source of data and knowledge,” Camps says.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Shift from 2D to #3D:
a cultural change is happening in #AEC”

The Owner’s Involvement

While Camps sees this move toward integration as a win-win for all parties involved, he sees the owner as his company’s primary client.

“We find it unbelievable that an owner will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a project and at the end of the project all they’re given is a box of documents, rolls of paper and CDs, basically told ‘good luck.’ I think owners can expect more,” he says.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: After an #AEC project, owners should expect more
than a box of docs & “good luck!” @HectorCamps @phicubed1 

Camps predicts that as owners begin to see the value they stand to gain from integration, and push for architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers to deliver data directly to an integrated data platform,  they’ll see a level of transparency, continuity and mutual respect that they’ve never experienced before.

“By doing so, not only is that owner more engaged in the design and construction process, but they’re effectively eliminating the hand-off that happens after construction,” Camps says.

Integration among all teams, and data, at the beginning of the design process can simplify the operations process throughout a building’s lifespan — and as more owners recognize this, more designers and contractors will jump onboard.

Related Resources

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction

Whitepaper: End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3

PHI Cubed


Spotlight on Impararia: Reducing the Gap Between Aerospace Optimization and AEC Inefficiency

By Akio
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Mohamed Ali El Hani, CEO of IMPARARIA Inc.

Mohamed Ali El Hani, CEO of IMPARARIA Inc.

After decades providing IT and product lifecycle management consulting services to the aerospace industry, Mohamed Ali El Hani saw an opportunity to apply his experience in that mature industry to a new sector just beginning to adopt similar processes and tools: the AEC industry.

Interested in exploring how aerospace technologies and a PLM approach could help improve the productivity of the design and construction industries, El Hani founded Impararia Solutions Inc. in 2009.

With Impararia, El Hani set out to become a leader in PLM, helping AEC customers optimize their business processes by looking at IT investments that address the full lifecycle of their projects.

However, the CEO of the Montreal-based company quickly recognized that despite the many similarities between aerospace and AEC, significant gaps still exist.


Impararia is setting out to narrow these gaps through change management, and by helping AEC companies create a vision for their future.

Shifting From Project to Process

While technology providers see the AEC industry at the cusp of an efficiency evolution already completed by the aerospace industry, many architects, engineers, and contractors struggle to change their mindset from “projects” to “products.”

According to El Hani, the shift in thinking about a building as a manufactured product is an important step in optimizing design and construction. It requires a focus on reusable building processes, rather than on seeing each project as a separate entity.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “Focus on reusable #building processes,
rather than each #AEC project as separate entity” -@IMPARARIA

With this shift in thinking, more design and construction companies are turning to manufacturing tools, such as simulation and 3D modeling software, and concepts such as PLM.

Impararia describes PLM as a process covering every aspect of a product’s lifecycle, from the first design to the end of the product (or project) life. The PLM concept relies on the control of all product information, processes, roles and information systems involved in the product lifecycle. This broad view is put into place to shorten the overall project duration and reduce costs.

Although many AEC professionals see PLM as interchangeable with building information management, PLM is a much broader concept that encompasses BIM technologies. While BIM focuses on digital mockup creation, the scope of PLM includes total project and supply chain management.

The Shift to a More Collaborative Approach

Helping AEC professionals understand the applicability of PLM is one of the challenges Impararia has faced in moving into the building industries. While the technologies and practices being used in aerospace — such as 2D to 3D migration, and certain business processes — are applicable to AEC, El Hani found they couldn’t be immediately transferred until the industry’s unique challenges were addressed.

One of those challenges is an ill-defined supply chain compared to aerospace.

“In some cases the architect is bidding, in other cases it’s the owner, and in other cases it’s the contractor,” he says. “The result is that we’re seeing each actor in this supply chain think only of its own benefits and scope of work — and the owner at the end pays the cost.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: When each party in #AEC supply chain
thinks only of own benefits & scope, Owner pays the price

Another challenge preventing a shift to more optimized construction is the way projects contracts are defined. Current contract structures make it difficult to define ownership of shared BIM data.

Further complicating this optimization, El Hani says, is a gap between the expectations of AEC players and technology providers.

“Our conclusion was that AEC customers were expecting to get technology for better management and collaboration from traditional AEC software providers, but what they were getting was only 3D mockup capabilities,” he says. “This gap in expectations was a big problem.”

It’s one reason Impararia partnered with Dassault Systèmes. Impararia found that the 3DExperience platform better integrated modeling tools with project management capabilities, providing the collaborative approach needed for true PLM on building and infrastructure projects.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Collaboration
is required for true PLM in #AEC

El Hani adds that he is seeing a slow shift toward greater collaboration and optimization in regions, such as the United Kingdom, where governments are launching initiatives to help companies reduce construction costs and improve productivity.

Their vision of BIM Level3 overlaps with a PLM philosophy. El Hani is supporting similarly focused research initiatives in Quebec to help define new policies for PLM adoption by AEC building manufacturers.


How Impararia Is Helping This Shift

To narrow these gaps, Impararia first sets out to help clients to develop a vision for their future. By helping define a roadmap of where they want to be in the next 10 to 20 years, Impararia aims to assist clients in better planning their technology investments.

Moreover, Impararia helps companies to implement PLM by first defining why the need for PLM exists and what problems this process will solve for them.

“We help them, based on our experience from other industries, refine their vision for their market and how they need to be structured internally, from business practices to technology, to support that vision. PLM does not exist without vision,” El Hani says.

Once a roadmap is in place, Impararia helps to introduce the processes, best practices and tools that will help clients to achieve their goals over the long term.

Cases in Point

In the beginning, when working with architects and contractors in the Montreal area, this process began not with vision but with convincing companies that manufacturing technologies could truly improve their processes.

The company had to explain how aerospace, and others, used the migration from 2D to 3D, model-based definition simulations, long-term archiving and other tools, to build better projects, more efficiently.

From convincing, Impararia moved to decision-making. For one French engineering company looking to migrate from 2D to 3D, but not sure how to make the move, Impararia helped capture the company’s true needs.

They came up with a solution using a 3D modeling tool with a capability for advanced relational design. With one technology investment, the engineering company found it could create a single advanced model that could be easily adjusted to meet the needs of the majority of its clients.

Increasingly Accessible Technologies

AEC professionals are becoming convinced that the aerospace roadmap can optimize their industry. Meanwhile, the incoming generation of designers and contractors are expecting more from technology.

“I often ask myself ‘why is there a gap between Aerospace and AEC?’” El Hani says. “In truth, I think it’s in large part due to technology accessibility.”

“Today, I see students born with technology in their hands. Advanced design using new equipment and collaborative technologies is already second nature to them,” El Hani says. “Mobile technology deployment took well less than a decade. PLM adoption in the AEC industry could accelerate in the next few years.”

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Tech accessibility & #PLM adoption
in #AEC is rapidly increasing

He predicts software manufacturers like Dassault Systèmes will offer more collaborative solutions at a more rapid rate than ever, it will be up to AEC companies to put those tools to work to improve their projects.

Related Resources

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction – Dassault Systèmes

End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3 White Paper

Impararia Website

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Spotlight on @IMPARARIA: Reducing the Gap
Between Aerospace Optimization & AEC Inefficiency

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