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We cannot effectively build infrastructure on time unless we adopt BIM-Kaushik Chakraborty, Bentley Systems

bimThe end result of BIM is collaborative working, information sharing, information exchange and making sure visibility and transparency across your construction project and your design project, believes, Kaushik Chakraborty, Vice President, Southeast Asia & India, Bentley Systems, Incorporated.

Let’s understand Bentley Systems focus in India through an interview with him.

BIM has become the buzzword in the construction industry today, so how does BIM help in construction?

If we can shorten the cycle of project delivery in construction, we can make the project on time, on budget. We should take the innovations which are coming from the IT world, and put them in a more systematic manner into the construction process, into the construction workflow and that’s where BIM comes into play. Take simple workflows, take applications and help build workflows, which can run up and down the chain in the project. This can help us complete projects faster and on time.

Going digital in construction in India is on as and when basis, do you feel a mandatory regulation can help to get more adoption?

There is always positives and negatives to mandating something. I don’t think as a democracy, mandating anything in India will be successful. We are not a totalitarian society. Culturally, intellectually in India, it is better to regulate and allow. Look at industries in India which have really flourished, for instance, Telecom. There were absolutely no mandates, there were no policies which prohibited you to do anything, but there was a regulatory body; they looked at interoperability, the last mile access, the value at the end user. They look at making the whole industry price sensitive to what the local user base can pay.

So, I would prefer taking construction like that and focus on how to make it more value-based, how to make it a part of Skill India and Digital India programs and how can we put these projects together to evolve the whole community of the construction industry, That is probably better done with a regulatory authority than just a mandate. The end result of BIM is collaborative working, information sharing, information exchange and making sure visibility and transparency across your construction project and your design project. That’s what the whole aim of BIM is, to make your processes your workflows more integrated and more transparent.

Which are your focus areas for Bentley Systems in India?

Our focus areas in India are pretty similar to our focus areas in other parts of the world. Our mission is to advance India’s infrastructure. Our focus is on heavy civil bridges, road, and rail. We have higher engagement levels with the metros as they evolve across the nation. In the highway projects, we intend to move more and more towards asset management. We see a growing market demand for asset management solutions from the energy sector, the gas plants, and refineries, which were constructed quite a few years ago and they are looking at maintaining these assets in more effective ways, in cost-effective ways and keep the life cycle going on. Our business is varied; our focus is on users and continues to be on the infrastructure side and across India.

Which are the two successful projects in India being executed using BIM?

The Nagpur metro project. Again, this is the only reference project we have where there is user acceptance and are open about naming them. There are a lot of projects which use BIM in some way or the other but the Nagpur metro project has persisted with a strong vision of collaboration, a vision of driving economic ROI while adopting IT solutions. It’s not just BIM; it’s also about integrating with ERP systems, their scheduling systems, and the other ancillary systems so that the whole project is more successful. That’s where it has been really successful. They have taken this holistic IT approach. They are one of the few projects which looked at IT and the adoption of information technology way before the project started. What ends up happening at infrastructure projects in India is construction starts, design starts after construction and IT comes way later than in the cycle. When you take an early approach how can IT be an enabler, BIM adoption becomes the subset of the whole IT adoption in the Indian Infrastructure segment.

The oil and gas industry has been doing BIM; they have been ahead of the game. For e.g. Jamnagar, Reliance, there were at least 50-100 companies doing design for J1, J2, J3. All of these companies worked all over the world. They are the world’s biggest EPC’s to have worked on this, 100’s of offices, thousands of people working on design files and at the end of the day, on-site all of this comes together, and you are not talking buildings, you are talking small pipes connecting. When two pipes designed by two companies connect onsite, they have used BIM‘s advanced 3D modeling; they have used components of BIM information sharing. Reliance has been very advanced in the usage of BIM workflows.

What is the future of BIM adoption looks like in India?

Pretty bright. Projects like Nagpur and Pune metro are only going to be the torchbearers. In India, you need some local successes, some local heroes. By nature, we think something may not work in India, but when we put that to work the adoption cycles are much faster than many other countries alike. So we are very accepting once it’s proven it works well in our country. As we engage with other users in the road alignment segment, in water segment, in the rail segment, in airports, the discussion today is about whether we adopt BIM; it’s about how can we. That’s the effort of the BIM advancement academy in Pune. That’s our whole intent at the academy – to help the industry. That’s our commitment to the industry, to evolve the industry, to help our users, to educate them about the advantages of BIM. It’s not the advantages of a product or a 3D design, it’s all about workflows and processes and how do you get people up skilled with these workflows and processes. I think it’s going to be a very bright future. It’s with the level of projects which we have in the market under for rapid urbanization and infrastructure. There is no other way we can effectively build infrastructure on time unless we adopt BIM.

What’s the role of AI in digital construction?

Our effort will always be to say how we can do construction simulation before you construct. The plant industry, the oil and gas industry does this, they always have called this construction sequencing. They have very detailed 4D, 5D simulation, and planning before they actually go into construction. I’m sure augmented reality and virtual reality is already a part of that sequencing discussion. AI may have more users in the management of assets. I could use deep earning algorithms to find a way to identify three most types of cracks in roads and highways that is something I can train a computer to do. And use drones and low-cost mechanisms to fly and use algorithms through deep learning methods to identify those cracks. Then they can reference back to the database in terms of what’s the most cost-effective way to repair those cracks and you automate the whole cycle. I think AI has a great role to play in the asset management process.