Bringing BIM offshore

Paul Boughton

Richard Fletcher outlines the advantages of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for the offshore industry.

Today industry experts tend to agree that Building Information Modelling (BIM) has the ability to reduce project delivery times, operational costs and waste over the lifecycle of a project.

BIM involves a detailed generation and management of a digital representation of the structural and functional aspects of any facility. The model works as a shared repository of knowledge that enables and facilitates decision-making from concept through design and construction, as well as throughout its operational cycle.

One company that has benefited from using BIM is Iv-Groep, a multi-disciplinary Dutch engineering company, based in Papendrecht, the Netherlands. The company has a large global network and often collaborates on complex projects, making it sometimes challenging to ensure all input is accounted for.

For example, Groep's subsidiary, Iv-Oil and Gas, designs offshore oil platforms. Once the designs are approved they get passed onto another subsidiary, Iv-Consult Sdn Bhd. This subsidiary, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then handles the detailing and produces the workshop drawings for the topsides of the oil platforms as well as their jackets (the tubular foundations piled into the seabed to anchor the platform).

It's crucial that all information is relayed and accounted for during the handover process and that errors are mitigated against. Using software such as Tekla Structures enables oil and gas companies to increase productivity and reduce errors during the design, fabrication and construction processes, all the while saving time and potential waste of materials.

Robert Van Der Waal, the director of Iv-Consult Sdn Bhd, comments: "Over the years, we have automated almost all beam-to-beam connection macros as well as polygon welds within Tekla Structures. This automation speeds up the designing of basic structures and thus allows the designers to focus on more challenging work.

"We have extended the functionality of the user-defined properties so that we can generate a wide range of additional information about the parts. For example, in the past two years Iv-Consult has offered its clients the option of modelling all the welds of the structure into the detailing model. The properties of these welds include weld type, size, volume, number and length. As a result, an extended weld list of a particular area - or floor or even the whole structure - can be provided. This is highly appreciated by our clients' fabrication planning officers as it is a big time saver."

Creating new opportunities

BIM creates new opportunities for the offshore construction industry. It provides an accurate, dynamic and data-rich 3D environment that can be shared by contractors, structural engineers, steel detailers and fabricators, as well as concrete detailers and manufacturers. It can also handle larger and more complex projects. "I have a detailing background and started with the company as a detailer myself in 1992," explains Van Der Waal. "Since that time, the productivity of an average draftsman has improved enormously with the help of this software. In the beginning, on average you spent 25 hours on one handmade A0 size drawing. Later, with 2D software, this decreased to an average of 15 hours for one A0. Today, we take about seven hours to produce one drawing, which includes modelling time." He concludes: "Therefore it is reasonable to say that in moving from hand drawing to 2D, we saved about 40% of the time spent on an average project."

For more information at

Richard Fletcher is business development manager at Tekla

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