The Mandate!


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The Mandate!

The directive that sets out the instruction to achieve specific goals and aims of the company. Understanding these company objectives requires an understanding of the underlying issues that initiated this instruction.

I briefly touched on some of the reasons in my first post but more specifically the company had done their homework and realized that there was potential for 3d modelling with intelligent attributes to contribute to the reduction of time spent on project designs with a reduction in costs. Over time an accumulation of work had developed a backlog of projects that could benefit from a cohesive 3D strategy.

HydroOne image

They had done their homework but I had only just started. This industry was relatively new to me so I first had to understand the company business model, their quality processes, engineering design methods, their product, procurement, installation and commissioning procedures.

They also have various regulatory authority commitments, environmental obligations and quality assurances that influence how the company operates. Its always a good idea to study a company’s existing structure and work practices before implementing a 3D/BIM solution as careful research can achieve good results with minimal cost and minimal impact on these processes and procedures.

The actual design workflow was ultimately where I would need to focus my attention to achieve these results but done so in consideration of what the company is about and what they do.

I have seen many examples in the last few years where BIM has been implemented incurring huge costs to the company concerned because the people responsible believe the best solutions are software based without due consideration for the opportunities that can be gained from proper analysis of the actual design processes.




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Electricity Power Transmission & Distribution Sub-Stations are not the typical BIM (Building Information Modelling) projects that come to mind when we consider the application of this engineering concept but it does have a place in this industry.

BIM as an engineering process is now quite common on contemporary projects but historically this is something that has been around since the early 90’s which was implemented on many projects prior to the eventual development of legislative standards like BS1192.

I recall sitting in a presentation of an early concept discussion hosted by Laing Management in 1996. The evolution of 3D CAD as a workable solution for design started as far back as 1992 with the optional addon for Autocad known as AME (Advanced Modelling extension). So there is some history here but the capabilities of the Cad software for BIM compliance and the full implementation on pioneering projects like Heathrow Terminal 5 and Pfizer Pharmaceutical Plant, Singapore didn’t start until around 2000.

I was involved in developing the standards for the latter project; being designed by Jacobs Engineering. The Jacobs management and engineering personnel recognized the benefits of working in 3d with the inclusion of intelligent data attached to those particular models. Along with clash detection and constructability studies (4D); using products like Navisworks; we created what we called at that time a “3D Cad Strategy” which incorporated the key aspects of BIM for the multi-discipline design office .


That was 15 years ago and a lot has changed with the focus seemingly now more towards the engineering software capabilities and less on the actual design workflow.

Understanding the design workflow and recognizing opportunities for improvement can make a real difference in how we adopt leaner more efficient design methods that can provide real added value to the project.

In 2005 I was invited to assist a Power Supply and Distribution company in Toronto with the transition of the engineering design process from 2D to 3D whilst achieving the mandated requirement for data integration such that the company realised a 60% reduction in design time with increased efficiency and reduced resources for HV Transmission & Distribution Sub-Station design and installation.


This blog will explore the thinking and ideas behind the eventual solution that was developed; resulting in achieving the mandated requirements that considered all aspects of the companies operations and business. There were very few companies using 3d in this industry at that time and those that recognized the potential found it difficult to derive a working solution.