Information modelling as a catalyst for change

George Mokhtar



The mining industry is now ready for BIM - and companies must prepare to rethink old ways of working.

The recent adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) by the infrastructure and real estate construction sectors is reducing capex and lowering operating costs. It also has the potential to transform value in the mining sector. 

Benefits for the mining sector

1. The design options can be tested more thoroughly at the early stages to create a more efficient design in a more efficient manner. The time saved here can be used elsewhere e.g. to improve the design strategy, and the ultimate value delivered can demonstrated with more certainty. Taking a more integrated approach to project delivery, and increasing the number of decisions earlier on can also improve progress through the feasibility stage to mitigate changes later in the process.

2. By using rule based model checking, the confidence in the information that underpins the client decision making processes increases. Model checks is a process of analysing model data to measure compliance with client or project standards. It has been used primarily for quality assurance to ensure the quantities from models are sound. Checks are now also being used heavily to assess compliance with design standards, buildability, access, and health and safety. This is now a reality for the most complex of BIM projects, and because of the increase in usable information and continued usability of this information, the risk of design-related issues has been reduced.

3. BIM-derived information can now be accessed and verified faster. In problem-solving or progress meetings as well as workshops, this information is now readily accessible in order to report on status against the agreed goals, identify discrepancies and mediate to a satisfactory resolution.

4. Intelligent portfolio management and client insight is now achievable. Approaching the operational phase of a development project, the move from subjective decision-making - which relies on user feedback and fragmentary data from disparate and unconnected asset management systems - towards objective decision-making takes place through the application of BIM. Building management systems are linked with other forms of data capture to create a more accurate, holistic picture of how the asset is performing and where the investment needs to go.

5. Model validation also represents a big change in the way we can work. Consistent, rich and accurate data is our greatest weapon for dealing with uncertainty. Asset knowledge and the ability to closely track how the operational team will be using the asset is essential for continued optimisation - whatever economic, social or environmental challenge is to be met.

Taking the next step

To support the client transition into a BIM environment we have seen the emergence of new roles. The Information Manager, a newly defined role, is responsible for the strategy, validity and direction of the production of asset information. Best practice dictates that this needs to be an organisational function with an understanding of the whole lifecycle. Adopting consistent and coherent client standards is key to driving this innovation.

The first step is to make the decision and commitment to adopt BIM. With that in mind, the opportunity currently presenting itself within the mining sector is to get ready for a future where BIM will play a bigger role in project delivery. Those mining organisations that spend time now rethinking business processes, considering technology innovations like BIM, and understanding the cultural change within the organisation in order to drive adoption, will be best placed to gain a competitive advantage in the long-term.

Mining and metals