BAM makes the most of time

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BAM Construction combines project management with 4D modelling software to visualise its virtual construction environment.

BAM Construction delivers buildings of the highest calibre across England, Scotland and Wales. The company’s projects span seven main markets covering both the private and public sectors: education, retail, mixed-use development, health, office, leisure and law and order. It has teams of experts who deliver a seamless service not only in construction, property development, services engineering, facilities management and plant hire, but in its specialist practice of design. Here its multidisciplinary design practice, BAM Design, has a strong reputation for innovation and design excellence. Its range of services cover architecture, structural and environmental design, interior design and CAD visualisations.

Technology is a key part of BAM’s success and 4D modelling, which links 3D CAD data to project scheduling, has been employed by the company since 2007. To some extent BAM tries to include 4D in all of its projects. Its software of choice is the 4D Suite from D-Studio. Project management software also plays an important role and here BAM uses Asta Powerproject from Asta Development. The marriage of Asta Powerproject and 4D modelling has proved very successful.

A collaborative effort

Kyp Kyprianou is regional planner, South East, for BAM Construction. He explains how Asta Powerproject and the D-Studio 4D modelling software work well together. “We have been working closely with D-Studio since 2007 to develop a 4D solution for visualising our tender and contract planning. Other

The fourth dimension

All construction projects demand scheduling; budgets and completion deadlines must be respected, multiple teams work at different times and places on the same project and this creates a tangle of factors causing critical moments in every project. These collisions can seriously slow down the whole construction process leading to major time loss and the budget getting out of hand.

4D combines 3D CAD and the planning into a comprehensive model of the project. Each graphical object is linked to its representative scheduling task; the graphical information and the scheduling information are linked together. So 4D modelling provides a visual platform for project stakeholders and explores different design and construction alternatives that would be affected by all four dimensions. Using 4D increases insight and makes communication between building partners more explicit and controls budget, process and scheduling simultaneously. It is therefore important that it works seamlessly with the project management software.


4D solutions providers were investigated at that time, but D-Studio proved to be the most collaborative, with personalities that had an open mind to develop the software, given the real requirements of our business.

The fourth dimension

“We use Asta Powerproject because it is our company standard planning software, and has been for many years. It is also very flexible and can be used with other software too; it works particularly well with the 4D software and is fully-recognised throughout the UK construction industry. The D-Studio 4D software we are using is called xD Builder and this has the ability to link the 3D model’s individual components with the relevant Powerproject programme activities via a database system.

“The 3D model becomes 4D once the planning software is added. This has allowed us to visualise and present ‘Time Eventing,’ either interactively on a computer or through selected printed graphical images. We can also identify the necessary build sequence in a virtual environment.”

Koenraad Nys from D-Studio, picks up the story. “Companies have been using 4D for the past 10 years, but more recently in construction project management. The main benefit is as a communications tool in the proposal stage, where the client can clearly see the plan in advance; but companies are starting to use 4D as a site management tool. Companies with a flexible enough project management tool can combine the two and really offer their customers visualisation of progress on planned and actual phases, and BAM is one of those companies.

The benefits for tender

BAM is applying 4D modelling to the vast majority of tenders within the South East Region of the business. On awarded contracts, it plans to implement 4D as part of its progress monitoring and reporting alongside Asta Powerproject. One of these projects is the New Laboratory for Molecular Biology Building (NLMBB) in Cambridge. It used 4D during the tender and negotiation stages to communicate its strategy and methodology to the client (Medical Research Council [MRC]). Along with its use of Asta Powerproject it could instil in the client the confidence that it could deliver the project to meet their expectations.

The benefits for construction

During the construction phase of a project, BAM is able to highlight where it should be compared with the plan. It can provide the client with images of this comparison in monthly reports, allowing a clear visual understanding of the project’s progress.

“It gives us a competitive edge by demonstrating to our clients that we understand the complexities of their projects and that our tender is based on reduced risk,” says Kyprianou. “Prices can be inaccurate when risks are not fully understood, which can lead to difficulties later on. Using a project management tool and a 4D software tool together means that our methods and programmes are more efficient, resulting in less waste which benefits our business and of course the environment generally. There are other efficiency gains, like green savings, for example in vehicle movements and timing of materials, so we can demonstrate a wider aspect of efficiency.”

The future

Kyprianou concludes with how he sees the future for 4D modelling: “It is a valuable communication tool. It is now an expectation from many of the blue chip and high-end clients that the top contractors have a 4D facility, which is likely to progress towards being an industry standard, particularly as the software becomes more accessible and easier to use.” |


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