Adopting BIM for Civil Design in China: Benefits, Challenges, and Solutions

The following article is excerpted from Civil Design Innovation, a whitepaper developed by Dassault Systèmes and SMEDI. To read more, download the full whitepaper here.


The two major benefits of adopting Building Information Management (BIM) are:

1. it enables 3D collaborative design, and
2. it facilitates communication by using a standardized format for data.

click-to-tweetClick to Tweet: “Benefit 1: #BIM
enables 3D collaborative design”

click-to-tweetClick to Tweet: “Benefit 2: #BIM facilitates
communication via standardized #data format”

Despite these benefits, there are challenges in adopting BIM.

One major obstacle is that it involves changing people’s habits, often needing to overcome a significant degree of resistance.

When new ways of working are proposed within a corporation, this can result in internal clashes or even paralysis while processes are reconfigured. Bottlenecks can also occur while designs are being refined and assessed.

Often there are risks in project cycle costs as well. While operating in a planned economy [i.e., China], a project’s ROI was calculated very accurately. The government controlled the resources, including labor and transport costs, such as the costs of purchasing construction vehicles. As everything was thoroughly planned, the project owner had complete control of the costs.

Now, within the market-driven economy, design has been reduced to only one stage – a single piece in the jigsaw puzzle subject to a number of cost variables. Likewise, the construction stage will have its own cost variables.

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in the jigsaw puzzle of #construction”

In summary, there are four key factors coming into play: project cost, quality of work, scheduling, and cost control.

The Civil Design Institute should carry out cost control in four stages:

1. Do an initial estimate with the understanding that they do not yet have a precise grasp of the entire project.

2. Write or agree upon a project brief in advance of starting the design work. The brief will include the size, shape and appearance of the final product to further aid cost discussions.

3. Prior to starting construction, a firmer budget will be submitted.

4. A final cost calculation will be put forward upon completion of the project.

One of the benefits of using BIM is that it can maximize a budget by providing precise calculations of materials and construction costs.

click-to-tweetClick to Tweet: “Benefit 3: #BIM provides precise
materials & construction costs, to maximize budget”

In general, a project has two kinds of costs: design and construction, as well as operation costs.

Normally, design and construction costs account for 20% of the overall cost, while operation costs take up 80%.

One-quarter of the design and construction costs (that is, 5% of the total project cost) is for design.

So it is crucial that the civil design institute has a powerful, yet economical design capability and BIM meets this requirement.

Introducing 3D Software and BIM

Since 2005, the civil engineering industry in China has been using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to produce 3D design for advanced projects.

Prior to 2005, the civil design institute used 2D design only and these drawings were not interlinked. This meant that changing one design sheet would not automatically trigger changes on related sheets.

In 3D design, the designer can ensure that all changes are carried throughout the entire building plan, further enhancing accuracy throughout the project.

Traditional BIM software is developed for buildings, not for civil projects like roads, bridges and tunnels. Thus, they do not match the capacity of the civil engineering design module that was co-developed by SMEDI and Dassault Systèmes to visualize civil projects.

The Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, can not only demonstrate design concepts, but it helps ensure a greater level of detail with increased precision for each project. Extensive BIM capability is required to illustrate entire civil projects with exact levels of detail shown within the prefabrication drawings offered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the leading software in this market.

click-to-tweetClick to Tweet: “Adopting #BIM for #CivilDesign in China:
Benefits, Challenges, Solutions”

NEXT: Case Studies in BIM for Civil Design

Download the whitepaper to keep reading.

Excerpted from Civil Design Innovation, a Dassault Systèmes Whitepaper

Download the full whitepaper here: Civil Design Innovation | Innovative Industrialization Methodologies Achieve Breakthroughs in Civil Design

This whitepaper provides a broad overview of the latest innovations and breakthroughs in civil design and construction, as well as the challenges faced and the solutions devised to achieve higher quality and improved efficiency.

Written jointly by Dassault Systèmes and the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (SMEDI).

Related Resources

Civil Design, an Industry Process Experience from Dassault Systèmes

Civil Design for Fabrication, an Industry Solution Experience from Dassault Systèmes



As head of global marketing for the AEC Industry at Dassault Systèmes, Mr. Moriwaki launches and promotes groundbreaking Industry Solution Experiences including "Optimized Construction," "Façade Design for Fabrication," and "Civil Design for Fabrication." He is a member of buildingSMART.