Auckland Airport hopes to save up to 10 per cent on final building costs and avoid expensive mistakes by mapping out up to 200 projects in 3D before it starts work on them.
The company used Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software in its international departures terminal and is applying the same technology which allows it to see into the future for the rest of its multi-billion dollar rebuild.
The software is used on most big construction jobs but the airport says it is using to co-ordinate one of the biggest and most complex builds in the country.
Engineers are using computer gaming equipment as it offers better graphic rendering than office computers provide and 3D scanning is crunching through a terabyte of data - of the equivalent of 75 million pages - a month.
Blending geospatial and engineering, architecture and construction data, the technology enables designers to work together throughout every phase of a project. It provides a complete picture of an asset, from its nuts and bolts to its steel framework, helping to streamline processes and resolve complex construction problems.
Andre Lovatt, General Manager of Auckland Airport development, said the end result is a an accurate 3D model that can be overlaid with operations information.
Engineers are able to change the parameters of the model to change it to show the impact of a varying number of people or cars flowing through an area. While there are eight main anchor projects , there are close to 200 building jobs planned during the next 20 years at the airport where numbers are expected to double from 21 million a year now.
''When you build the asset in your computers before you get to the site you can iron out the problems and integrate the design process with the path to ht construction process in a different way than what we did 10 years ago.''
The complexity of the work in the airport precinct, and the need to keep it operating 24/7, made the use of the technology essential, he said.
''We know the sort of asset management philosophy that we're talking about here yield over time savings of at least 10 per cent of the capex over the life of the operation so there are real hard money benefits of doing this.''
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Designers initially trialled the technology for the 35,000sqm redevelopment of the airside departure and dwell area of the international terminal and due to its success, the technology was adopted in full for the development of new gates located at Pier B at the northern end of the airfield.
The initial challenge was to map the structure of the existing International terminal, a 1970s era Ministry of Works project, which involved the collation of existing 3D models along with ground-based 3D laser scanning, to create a replica.
The airport this month started a $100m road project, the Northern Network project will transform the main entrance way. It warns work could create disruption and delays.
The company also broke ground on a new luxury hotel near the international terminal. a new 311-room luxury hotel near the airport terminal.
The five-star Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel will cost more than $150 million to build.