Vladimir Frolov Head of Transport Infrastructure Department, Stroyproekt-INFO LLC

The construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, like other areas of construction, is following the path of digitalization. However, in the case of infrastructure projects, it is necessary to take into account the interests of two areas at once: construction and transport. Among the innovations that can allow the digitalization process to solve the maximum number of problems, experts are increasingly calling information modeling of buildings and structures - BIM. But while a significant number of BIM projects have been implemented in civil and industrial construction, there are still only a few of them in road construction.

What can we say about methodological recommendations and regulatory framework! Vladimir Frolov, head of the transport infrastructure department of S-INFO LLC, talks about how the situation with the implementation of BIM in infrastructure projects can be improved and what this will give to business and the state.

- What are the real advantages of BIM in road construction?

V.F. Construction, and especially infrastructure, is far from the most profitable business. And this is one of the most significant problems for the industry. It can be judged at least by the fact that strong players are leaving the market - for example, in bridge construction. This means that tools that help minimize costs are simply vital for the industry. And VIM is just such a tool.

Information modeling allows you to reduce costs at all stages of the life cycle of an object from design to direct operation and even beyond - during the decommissioning process. Using the BIM model, we speed up the design process and, in addition, reduce the number of errors. Everyone knows that the most expensive mistakes are those that were discovered during the construction process.

The time spent on the design and construction of a facility, the number of errors - all this is money for the company that is responsible for the project. And, by the way, the states too, if we are talking about a project that is financed from the state budget.

- If everything is so rosy, why then are BIM still used by a few people?

V.F. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. BIM requires major changes from the organization that decides to use it. This is not the introduction of one tool that, like a magic wand, will instantly optimize and improve everything. The transition to BIM requires serious work and changes in approaches, which not everyone is ready for. And the issue of finance is important: not everyone can cope with the implementation of BIM on their own, and the services of consulting companies are not cheap. Significant limiting factors are the lack of an established regulatory framework for the use of VIM in our country, and, as a consequence, the lack of willingness of most customers to include requirements for the need to develop an information model in the technical specifications, and the lack of experienced qualified personnel.

- But there are still such projects? Can we talk about their effectiveness?

V.F.Yes, I have. In 2016, to work in the field of BIM technologies, a specialized company, S-INFO LLC, was formed, which develops domestic software for BIM modeling and is already capable of creating information models for almost any infrastructure facilities. For example, we created an information model for the Bypass of the city of Barnaul, and completed an information model in the process of developing a planning project for the site of the Latitudinal Expressway with a bridge across the river. Neva in the alignment of Fayansovaya - Zolnaya streets in St. Petersburg, an information model with the results of the pre-launch inspection of the Betancourt Bridge - also in St. Petersburg. Today we are working on the Far Western Bypass of Krasnodar. The information model for the facility included four models: a territorial planning model, an engineering survey model, a pre-design model and a design model. Each model accompanies a separate stage of development of project documentation.

We see huge potential for the use of BIM technology: customers receive higher quality design documentation, as well as completely new, convenient and understandable access to information; the designer can, at an early stage of project implementation, reduce possible errors associated with the coordination of various sections of design documentation included in the project , and, accordingly, reduce labor costs and time required to make changes to design solutions.

- You spoke about problems in the regulatory framework associated with the use of BIM in infrastructure projects. Is there any positive movement on the part of the regulator in this direction?

V.F. Yes, definitely. Last year, the Government of the Russian Federation approved a roadmap for the implementation of information modeling technologies at all stages of the life cycle of a capital construction project. This roadmap also concerns infrastructure - bridges, roads, tunnels, etc. This is a big step.

Last fall, Rosavtodor initiated a series of research projects on the use of BIM for infrastructure facilities. In one of them we took direct part as performers. More than 30 different organizations - designers, CAD developers, government customers - participated in the review of this work.

The result of the work was a set of temporary regulations containing requirements for the release of pilot projects using BIM technologies, as well as proposals for additional sections of the terms of reference for the development of design working documentation in relation to transport infrastructure facilities. The high quality of the work performed made it possible to transform it into an industry road methodological document, which came into force in June 2018 (ODM 218.3.105-2018).

And yet, information modeling at transport infrastructure facilities still has a weak legal status. In civil and industrial construction, private customers can and already do so as a prerequisite for their contractor to use BIM, thereby stimulating its spread. Government customers cannot require the use of BIM in the terms of reference, and the examination does not consider the information model as equivalent to design documentation - and for infrastructure projects this is more significant than for PGS, because the share of government orders in road construction is huge.

- It turns out that road construction in the field of BIM application is, so to speak, a “trailer” to the regulation of industrial and civil construction?

V.F. Now - yes, and this is a serious obstacle to the development of BIM in our field. Additional limiting factors are problems directly with software tools. Most of them are focused on ASG and do not take into account the specifics of infrastructure facilities: the length of roads is enormous, it is necessary to take into account the many facilities located on them, etc.

In addition, the Russian market contains mainly software from foreign developers. So the issue of import substitution is also very acute. If we build bridges and roads, we must understand that information security issues are extremely important - people's lives and the country's economy depend on them. Domestic software in this area is needed now more than ever.

- Is anything being done in this direction?

V.F. Yes. Specialists of S-INFO LLC have created a BIM platform for infrastructure facilities. It can be integrated with third-party systems: from customer management and planning systems to monitoring and tracking systems for the condition of artificial structures. We believe that the use of this platform is very promising. In addition, domestic CAD developers for highway design are already discussing the possibility of integrating their software products with our platform

- Will the situation with the use of VI in road construction change in the near future?

V.F. We hope so. There are several factors that allow us to look into the future with optimism. Firstly, business sees the feasibility of using VIM and its effectiveness. Secondly, the regulator is also looking towards BIM. And most importantly, the course towards digitalization of all industries should stimulate the transition to information modeling. So sooner or later (we are, of course, counting on “sooner”), road construction will enter the BIM era.

Vladimir Frolov Head of Transport Infrastructure Department, Stroyproekt-INFO LLC