Report: How can BIM aid earthquake engineering?

Credit: Tom Wang
Credit: Tom Wang

A new article has looked at Building Information Modelling and the impact that is currently has on earthquake engineering, and what a pairing between the two could look like in the future.

Civil + Structural Engineer have highlighted that although BIM software is unable to process ‘seismic analysis’ within a model at the moment, that could be the norm in the future. Despite it lacking that functionality in the present day, the article also addresses ways that BIM can aid the workflow of an earthquake engineer now.

“Seismic analysis is the calculation of the response of a building structure to earthquakes,” explains the article. “BIM software does not have the capability to account for so many different methods of fortification analysis without finessing a model through many pieces of software or custom API programming, which can be a cumbersome task.

“Design models used for construction documents must be passed from a BIM model to an analysis model. Even when this is done through a single company’s software suite, disconnects occur between BIM and analysis models while round tripping results. When attempting to use third-party analysis software, this disconnect can be even greater. Despite this, BIM models are still beneficial for building fortification in a number of ways.”

So despite being unable to carry out this specific form of fortification analysis in a single model seamlessly, what can BIM do at the moment? The report elaborates: “BIM is especially useful for infrastructure when working with reality capture technology.

“With the ability to create highly detailed 3D structural models of roads, bridges, tunnels, and any urban infrastructure element, seismic events and their impacts can be simulated.”

Other than the simulation of earthquake impact, BIM can also help with seismic specifications, such as placing BIM objects in models further apart than normal so that in the event of an earthquake, the components won’t clash one another and costs from damage can be lowered to a small amount as possible.

“BIM ensures that all seismic requirements are incorporated, eliminating the need for design modifications as the work in the field evolves. 3D views are especially critical when complying with seismic specifications, such as a regulation calling for a 2-inch space between pipes or ducts to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake. Basically, any hanger or brace can be modelled, penetrations and sleeves can be identified, and code validation can be established based on the BIM tool used.”

The article closes by looking positively at the future, suggested that instead of transferring BIM models to other pieces of software for specific data on tremors and the like, there will be a future application that tailors to earthquake engineering. The article states that collaboration is key: “As the construction industry continues to adopt BIM, the cost-savings benefit is undeniable. However, for designers, namely structural designers, to fully release the benefits of BIM, collaboration between modelling and analysis software must be enhanced.

“As the industry progresses into the next decade, having the ability to perform all [earthquake] analysis from within a single BIM model will become the new norm and will enable true performance-based earthquake engineering.”

Click here to read the entire article – it is a fantastic read!

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