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Exploring Bridge Information Modeling in Engineering

Maximizing efficiency in bridge management with BrIM (Bridge Information Modeling) and BMS (Bridge Management System) by optimizing costs, time, and safety. Read more!

The construction industry is rapidly transforming thanks to digitalization. With increasing pressure to optimize costs, meet deadlines, and address sustainability challenges, innovation is essential.

In this context, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has revolutionized how AECO professionals and construction companies approach projects, leading to improved quality of design and construction information, as well as enhanced collaboration. However, for the bridge sector, there is a further step: Bridge Information Modeling (BrIM).

What is BrIM, Bridge Information Modeling?

BrIM represents a significant breakthrough in the approach to bridge engineering, addressing the unique challenges that this specific type of project presents. While BIM has proven its value in many sectors, its application to bridges requires tailored adaptation to meet the design and construction needs of these structures. With BrIM, the limitation of a typical vertical architecture of BIM is overcome, effectively adapting to the horizontal characteristics of bridge communication routes. This allows for an accurate representation of the physical and functional structures of bridges, providing a comprehensive information resource that encompasses the entire bridge lifecycle, from design to construction, to ongoing management.

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The benefits of BrIM

Adopting BrIM brings a series of tangible benefits that positively impact all aspects of bridge construction projects. Firstly, data accuracy and consistency enhance the quality of design, reducing errors and optimizing the constructability of structures. This leads to reduced construction costs and accelerated project completion times.

Furthermore, BrIM supports design collaboration across all disciplines involved in the project, promoting an integrated and synergistic working environment. This results in increased operational efficiency and a reduction of inefficiencies in the design and construction process.

Lastly, BrIM provides essential support for the ongoing maintenance of the bridge throughout its lifecycle. Accurate and detailed data stored through BrIM allows for optimized management of maintenance interventions, extending the useful life of the structure and ensuring long-term safety and reliability.

Revolutionizing bridge management: the power of BrIM and BMS

In this era of information and technology, the concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has substantially altered various aspects of engineering design, construction, monitoring, and management of infrastructure resources, particularly bridges. In the field of bridge engineering, Bridge Information Modeling (BrIM), as a specific form of BIM, includes the virtual representation (digital-twin) of bridge resources associated with geometric information and non-geometric inspection data. BrIM has shown enormous potential in replacing traditional paper documentation and handwritten reports with digital documentation/transformation of bridges, enabling professionals and managers to carry out bridge management more efficiently and effectively.

Integration of BrIM into BMS

To date, a significant portion of bridge health assessments are determined using a manual inspection report produced by specifically designated figures. Advances in recent years have allowed for the conversion of these reports into electronic documents stored in management systems.

However, there may be doubts about the quality of data acquired in the development of BrIM, as well as the use of this information for corrective actions/decisions in a reliable Bridge Management System (BMS), as they are mainly based on the knowledge and experience of the inspectors involved or managers, and depend on a certain degree of subjectivity. Reasonable concerns, given that reasonable and correct decisions depend on the reliability of the data to determine the best repair strategy or budget allocation.

An effective solution for rapid, intelligent, and reliable bridge inspection compared to traditional methods may be represented by the integration of BrIM derived from TLS into the BMS: this way, a rich database can also be provided for management purposes.

Technology today can provide tools to implement automated solutions that include 3D reconstruction, semantic modeling, geometric modeling, and construction information modeling.
Reality capture devices, such as terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), photogrammetry, IoT sensors, serve as the cornerstone of 3D reconstruction, allowing for the creation of accurate digital representations of existing bridges. Semantic modeling, although difficult to automate, is essential for labeling subsets of 3D reconstructions in a BIM taxonomy, laying the foundation for geometric modeling. By leveraging parametric and non-parametric representations, significant progress has been made in automating geometric modeling, thus accelerating the transition from point cloud to BrIM.

BMS: enhancing infrastructure management

Complementary to BrIM is the Bridge Management System (BMS), a sophisticated set of tools used to comprehensively supervise bridge structures. Integrating inspection, structural health monitoring (SHM), and restructuring functions, BMS allows for effectively addressing the complexities of infrastructure management.

The purpose of BMS is to provide the managing entity with the necessary information to optimally plan maintenance and control of asset structures, taking into account structural, economic, and social factors.

In the pursuit of safer and more resilient bridges, routine inspections play a fundamental role, providing information on structural health and facilitating timely interventions. However, manual inspections are laborious and time-consuming, prompting the exploration of automated solutions. With the aid of cutting-edge technologies, such as digital twin, BIM, openBIM, GIS, IoT, BMS enables predictive maintenance strategies and informed decisions, ensuring the longevity and safety of bridge structures.

Maximizing efficiency in bridge management: BrIM and maintenance systems (BMS)

The innovative approach of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the context of bridges, known as Bridge Information Modeling (BrIM), offers a comprehensive three-dimensional model that goes beyond mere design. BrIM integrates an intelligent physical model in an environment that facilitates interoperability between various design and bridge management phases.

Bridge maintenance systems (BMS) based on BrIM are widely adopted in various nations. These systems allow for detailed monitoring of structure deterioration in real-time, thanks to the integration of maintenance data and defect information into BIM models. Approaches such as IFC extensions for maintenance data and detailed data management schemes enhance maintenance effectiveness, enabling an accurate assessment of bridge technical conditions.

However, widespread implementation of BrIM for bridge maintenance encounters significant challenges.

These include the need to define BIM suitable for the specific needs of owners and establish efficient BIM procedures for existing bridges. Additionally, the complexity of interoperability between different commercial BIM software can create obstacles in smooth data exchange. Addressing these challenges requires a diversified and innovative approach, especially for existing bridges that were not originally designed with BIM. Exploring solutions that go beyond traditional IFC extensions may be essential to overcome current barriers and maximize the benefits of BrIM in bridge management.

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