Keep it CIMple

Donna Huey | 12 Apr 2017 | Comments

Civil Integrated Management (CIM) Processes Expedite Program Delivery, Eliminate Cost Overruns and Reduce Claims & Litigation in Project Delivery

Due to a backlog of “shovel ready” projects nationwide, and required annual letting volumes that exceed $5B in the coming years, DOTs across the country are looking to increase the efficiency of their project delivery models to meet the anticipated dollar volume requirements. Civil Integrated Management (CIM) can help meet the challenge but will take time to realize—the quicker we’re willing to learn and adapt, the faster we’ll become more profitable.

Think of it this way. A hand saw and a power saw both accomplish the same task, but the power saw will get it done faster—and better. Engineers should look at CIM the same way. And as thought leaders in our industry, we have a responsibility to help meet the challenges ahead by assisting clients in delivering their work programs more efficiently through the innovative use of technologies across the project life-cycle. CIM is defined by the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) as the technology-enabled process of collection, organization, managed accessibility, and the use of accurate data and information throughout the life-cycle of a transportation asset.

Simply put, CIM is a win. It’s an innovative process that will best serve our clients moving forward. Our job is to help agencies make the transition from 2-D CAD deliverables and processes to a 3-D model data environment. Using CIM, we will be able to deliver work programs faster and within budget with minimal claims and variations. How? By improving on-site job safety and reducing the change orders caused by utility coordination conflicts between engineering disciplines. When information is digital and managed properly, updates flow and evolve from a single source—eliminating information loss across the various phases of a project.

To support the DOTs across the country, the FHWA and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently published a CIM Implementation Guide (NCHRP Report 831) which establishes framework and guidelines for DOTs to implement CIM processes and technologies successfully across their organizations. The guide follows the FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative to use innovative technology and project delivery methods to deliver projects better and faster.

Several states across the U.S. have been doing various pilot projects in recent years and are sharing their feedback, and return on their investments, after going digital with project delivery and implementing CIM processes and framework. Wisconsin DOT, for example, achieved a 3-4% reduction in project costs with pre-construction utility coordination. And Florida DOT has seen both an estimated 3-4% project savings through the use of 3-D models for automated machine guidance (AMG) with contractors, and an approximate 12-15% savings in program delivery schedule.

Digital engineering technologies are here to stay. Success will be measured by how quickly we adopt this technology, the level of benefit enjoyed by the users, and the seamless integration into their project workflows. It’s more critical to understand digital project delivery than just how to use the digital tools. Those who grasp the overall digital delivery process will no doubt achieve the greatest benefits through implementing CIM.

Of course, we will always retain the ability to create 2-D outputs, but we have new tools at our disposal today that provide a better, safer outcome. We should embrace these technologies, not fear them. The designers who adapt to new tools and processes will become much more profitable and can increase business.

Power saw? Hand saw? Which would YOU choose?