Balfour Beatty Vinci uses ‘4D modelling’ on smart motorway upgrade project


Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV), the joint venture (JV) working on the conversion of the M5 Junctions 4a to 6 smart motorway project on behalf of Highways England (HE), has achieved significant results through the use of ‘4D modelling’ as a management tool.

The BBV JV has made use of what it describes as ‘4D modelling’ for all critical activity that had the potential to impact project timescales to enhance understanding of the works sequence prior to starting on-site, reduce waste and inefficiencies, avoid operational and logistics clashes, and mitigate health and safety risk.

The BBV JV explains that a 4D model is basically a 3D representation assigned to construction tasks within the program. Having a 4D model on-site at an early stage enables the whole team to understand the full construction sequence, as the 3D visualization of the task includes the timescale to provide its fourth dimension.

Using this innovative new software, the BBV JV and HE re-opened a stretch of the M5 three and a half hours earlier than planned during a scheduled 12-hour closure, removing planned disruption for over 26,000 road users on their morning commute. 4D modelling is becoming commonplace on infrastructure projects to help plan complex sequences of works in advance, however, BBV JV’s use of the software broadened its scope to include day to day project management, taking the software beyond its standard operational practice.

On the M5 project, the team used the 4D modelling as a ‘rehearsal’ for the installation of overhead gantries and for the removal of existing gantries. The BBV JV was appointed to the M5 Smart Motorway project in January 2016, with work due for completion in June 2017.

“This is the first time the Balfour Beatty VINCI joint venture has used this software as a management tool, taking the technology beyond site safety and operational planning uses, into all aspects of our work, including site inductions,” explained Josh Hanson, digital project coordinator for Balfour Beatty.

“This collaborative approach has also extended to planning meetings with Highways England, resulting in a more seamless working relationship on a complex and busy project. This approach will now be rolled out to our other highways projects, as well as other areas of the business.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).