BIM and digital collaboration delivering nuclear quality at Hinkley Point C

BYLOR, a joint venture between Bouygues Travaux Publics and Laing O’Rourke is responsible for providing the main civil engineering works on Hinkley Point C - a truly momentous civil engineering and construction project, marking the first UK nuclear power station to be constructed in over a generation. 

Unsurprisingly, digital technology has played a huge role in the project.

Andrew Jackson, Technical Director & Nuclear Quality Lead - BYLOR, said: “Right at the beginning of the project, we reviewed how best to design and detail such an incredible range of complex structures that we had to build.

"Having looked at lots of different options, we decided that the project would be delivered using Tekla.

"This means that all concrete and reinforcement across all structures on site were designed in Tekla; stretching from the design office, to using that design on site to get the structures built, to producing the records of what it is we have built.”

For BYLOR, there were two main benefits of employing a digital design and detailing process, as Jackson explained: “The first is the ability to clearly visualise and see what it is that we have to do.

"As a construction team, this helps us to better understand some of the designers’ complex needs, by spinning around the 3D model and looking inside.

"Likewise, they can understand our construction requirements and see how certain details may be difficult to build on site and therefore suggest alternatives."

The second benefit is coordination.

"Sometimes, as the civils builder, we need to remind ourselves that we are just one cog in the massive machine that is a nuclear power station," said Jackson.

"Being able to join together all the different complex aspects of the design and ensure that they work together is critical.

"Where issues have arisen on other nuclear power stations, it’s likely because components haven’t fitted together correctly.

"Often there may have been one designer detailing the reinforcement on one set of 2D drawings and another detailing the embeds on a second set of drawings."

He added: "The first time those drawings will be introduced to each other is in the hands of the team on site that has to make it fit.

“By using the digital models, whether it’s the civils design being produced in Tekla or the other designs being produced in different platforms, we can put those together and make sure that out in the field everything is going to fit out of the box.”

Given the fact that construction of Hinkley Point C would span over a 10-year period, BYLOR knew that flexibility and adaptability was key.

Jackson continued: “We chose very early on to use IFC and that’s a decision that has proven to give us great flexibility in adapting as the industry adapts around us.

"We can bring together in the IFC format all those different elements of design and use that design out on site, typically using Trimble Connect to see how everything fits together.

"It also gives us a greater degree of control. Working with IFCs - where the information is issued, frozen, controlled and we can clearly tell who’s made it - we can demonstrate the control required for nuclear quality.”

A full case study video is available to watch on Youtube, where you can hear from some of BYLOR’s key players.

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