COBA Engineering and Environmental Consultants was retained to conduct a feasibility study and deliver preliminary engineering designs for a 200-megawatt Kholombidzo Hydroelectric Power Plant along Malawi’s Shire River. The project included the design and analysis of a complex dam structure and surface powerhouse. It also required field investigation and cost estimates. The team also had to provide an estimate of the delivery schedule through construction, as well as specifications for civil, mechanical, and electrical works. COBA faced three main challenges: managing large amounts of data, which includes a high volume of earth movement works; conceptualizing the optimum design at the early stage and documenting all changes; and leveraging the geotechnical, hydraulic, and structural site constraints to deliver the best infrastructure solution.
The project was developed using a collaborative 3D digital modeling approach in a hybrid Bentley and Autodesk environment. 3D models were created using Building Designer, and the 2D outputs were annotated and used to add information in AutoCAD. This approach respected the company’s traditional workflow while providing COBA with the benefits of BIM methodology. Additionally, this process enabled the team to conduct the feasibility study and determine the optimal design to improve the reliability of Malawi’s electric supply and meet future power requirements.
By the end of the project, the team had created 14 geo-coordinated 3D models using Bentley applications and integrated them into a coordinated digital representation of the projected infrastructure. Using 3D modeling improved productivity for drawing production and cost estimates by 15 percent. Bentley technology allowed dispersed teams to work simultaneously to analyze information faster and more precisely, saving time and improving quality and accuracy of the deliverables. In addition, integrating the work of the different disciplines in the 3D model also expedited the engineering design, as it allowed them to build “clash-free” models, re-use information easily, and interactively relate 3D geometry and metadata.
COBA created a digital environment supported by Bentley’s design applications, including Building Designer, MicroStation, and OpenRoads Designer. This environment provided all disciplines with secure, easy access to the 3D models through MicroStation and its referencing capabilities. The models were stored in a traditional centralized server and complied with COBA’s internal file naming conventions, guaranteeing that the team had access to the latest information.
This project was a finalist in the Power Generation category of the 2017 Be Inspired Awards, now known as the Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure. Watch the presentation:
- The project team created 14 geo-coordinated 3D models and integrated them into a coordinated digital representation of the projected infrastructure using Bentley applications.
- 3D modeling improved productivity for drawing production and cost estimates by 15 percent.
- MicroStation allowed dispersed teams to simultaneously analyze information faster and more precisely, saving time and improving quality and accuracy.