The evolution of BIM in Civil Works: the software

The use of different software to carry out a BIM model is a handicap in the current use of this methodology, requiring an update in the short-medium term.

Carrying out projects with the BIM methodology in the field of Civil Works, is not evolved as the Building sector. The main disadvantages are the software that allows the development of these projects.

For example, to carry out building projects. The most popular software, used and with more years of experience we have Revit from Autodesk. This software allows to elaborate the different disciplines that can be part of a building project such as architecture, MEP and structures. In this way you can work with the same platform and coordinate workflows more easily.

Revit’s compatibility with many other programs or its connectivity with other brand software makes it one of the favorite when it comes to this methodology of work. For these reason exists the possibility of connecting with programs such as Dynamo for programming, Navisworks for management or Robot Structural Analysis for calculation of structures.

"BIM methodology is expected to be essential for carrying out projects in all their different areas and life cycle"

On the other hand, in the field of civil works, to do a BIM project with its different disciplines, such as topography, drainage, structures, sigmage vertical / horizontal marking, functional elements, earthworks, etc., we have to go through different software to deal with all this type of information.


For example, to improve the quality of the prior information of the projects we can use the GIS tools, which, based on information available in government portals, can be elaborated and contextualized to be used as a base in projects and for subsequent use of Istram –Ispol, a tool with which we will make the road layout, as well as for the future use of Infraworks, a tool that will help us make proposals or propose alternatives in the initial phases of the project.

On the other hand, we could use Civil for the drainage network development part, allowing the team to interact with the BIM.


Even so, it still missing to talk about the software with which we would make structures or other elements belonging to the project.

With only the example of the previous paragraph, it is clearly that we need to use differents BIM tools to work properly in a civil works project. Though, companies in this area are doing a great job and are evolving in this field, there are those who have applications that are migrating, versioning and evolving day by day and there are other products which we have to wait for the annual review.

Another disadvantage is that, when we are working with different software or different versions of software, you have to share the data of the model and allow interoperability, so we have to work with an Open system (Open BIM), this is the main objective of the IFC format.

"For Civil Works projects, we need a good knowledge of all the softwares to be able to develop a complete project with the BIM methodology"

There is a group of companies that has initiated a project for the development, among other objectives, of an extension of IFC for roads.

In order to automate the verification of geometric road design regulations from an IFC file, it is necessary, first, to define which standards can be automated, then, what information should be in the IFC files and how this information will be organized, and finally, which method has to follow to carry out this verification. The project includes an analysis of the criteria included in a large sample of road geometric design guides from different countries. In this way, they are working on the data transmission formats for BIM of civil works: IFC Bridge, IFC Alignment, IFC Road and Railways, which are still under development.

There is IFC 4 that defines a multitude of entities that allow us to attend to the uses of BIM in buildings, but it does not have its own elements to define a linear construction works.

"The implementation of BIM is synonymous of investing in efficiency"

At the same time, we can conclude that, for Civil Works projects, we need a good knowledge of all the softwares to be able to develop a complete project with the BIM methodology. In the same way, a good job of coordination between disciplines must to be done, because we cannot connect with the different programs in an easy way. Indirectly, this implies a higher cost for the company or users for acquire licenses of the different tools.

Finally, and despite the previously mentioned handicaps, the BIM methodology is expected to be essential for carrying out projects in all their different areas and life cycle. Therefore, any effort, economic and personal ones, will be essential for developing the BIM methodology in the company. The implementation of BIM is synonymous of investing in efficiency.

Author: Laia Burgués, Civil Engineering BIM Manager