How BIM Is Providing the Army Corps of Engineers with Sustainable Solutions to America’s Water Resource Needs

Living up to its mission statement: “Engineering solutions for our Nation’s toughest challenges”, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) supports multiple goals in its bid to deliver vital public and military engineering services in war and peace. Helping support their many tasks is BIM. BIM can be used in any type of civil infrastructure project to create visualizations for stakeholder approval, develop 3D models to identify problems before hand-off, and deliver projects on time and on budget.

Using intelligent model-based solutions, BIM can also help validate project feasibility – saving time and tax payer dollars.

A key focus (PDF) for USACE this fiscal year is to deliver enduring and essential water resource solutions using effective transformation strategies through its Civil Works program. This includes:

• Modernizing the Civil Works project planning program and process. The planning process is the first step in the Civil Works project development. While the foundation of the process is strong and effective—from problem identification to plan selection—the process has become timely and expensive. This is problematic for non-federal sponsors, the taxpayers, and the Army. Improving the planning process delivery is the key element of the Civil Works Transformation Planning Modernization. The completion of feasibility studies that result in sound, quality, credible recommendations to solve complex water resources problems, and contribute value to the nation for authorization contained within a report of the Chief of Engineers is a key outcome for Planning Modernization.

• Enhancing the Civil Works budget development process with a systems approach. This cost-cutting strategy advocates using systems analysis methods and tools to understand, assess and model the interconnected nature of hydrologic systems (e.g. watersheds) and the economic and ecologic systems they support.

• Delivering quality solutions and services. The Corps assessed how it delivers products and services, and the steps it needed to take in order to enhance and maintain a highly trained and competent workforce that is responsive to our Nation’s water resource needs. Based on this assessment, USACE determined that it needs to improve technical competence, processes and procedures and provide state of the art guidance and regulations that reflect lessons learned and future uncertainties

Since 2006, USACE has partnered with BIM-aggressive private sector contractors and educators to understand and leverage BIM best practices, standards, and contract language. As discussed at Autodesk University in 2012, the USACE BIM map stresses the importance of USACE BIM implementation “…to go beyond a labor and time saving device associated with reduced cost of producing coordinated drawings to a set of information upon which to realize business process transformation.”

Read more about USACE’s civil works strategic plan.

Image courtesy of USACE: Civil Works Strategic Plan 2014-2018.