3D technology reduces wastewater treatment plant design costs by 30%
China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) (2011–2015) allocated 20% more funds for municipal wastewater treatment projects to address pollution caused by rapid urbanisation and inadequate sewage disposal. The initiative put pressure on leading design institutes to keep up with demand.
EPC contractor Zhongnan Engineering Corporation (POWERCHINA Zhongnan) in China responded by adopting a new methodology to improve overall efficiency for the 20,000 m3/d Qingzhen Vocational Education West Urban District sewage treatment plant project.
The company adopted a portfolio of Bentley products that would create a standardised 3D environment for optimising and integrating project design, construction and operations. ProjectWise was implemented as the collaboration platform to enhance communication and coordination among the 10 design disciplines as well as the parties involved in construction and operations. The platform pushed a standardised user workspace and provided a common data environment (CDE) that became the single source for project information.
The project team developed solutions for modularisation and standardisation using Bentley software including AECOsim Building Designer, GEOPAK, OpenPlant and Bentley Substation. Each application produced benefits; for example, using GEOPAK’s 3D modelling capabilities to develop plans, profiles and cross-sections took 60% less time than previous methods. More importantly, the selected scheme minimised land use, reduced water head loss, saved energy and facilitated maintenance — saving the client CNY 11.2 million.
AECOsim Building Designer’s parametric modelling capabilities enabled the team to explore alternative building geometries. The 3D plant design environment in OpenPlant allowed multidiscipline modelling of piping, HVAC and electrical. And the integrated modelling of the physical and electrical designs in Bentley Substation reduced errors and omissions. Together, the interoperable software accelerated design review and produced an intelligent plant model that could be used throughout the plant life cycle.
Information mobility through all phases enhanced project participation and reduced time-consuming face-to-face meetings. Project data was published to i-models, which were accessible from desktop, laptop and mobile devices, while maintaining all the original attributes. The 3D information models and visualisations simplified communications among the design disciplines as well as with other project participants. Coordination review and clash detection with Bentley Navigator quickly revealed collision points and rapidly resolved issues.
“Based on Bentley’s standardised design, the clash detection of the system can help us find out more than 100 clash points quickly, with a design error rate decreased by 90%. The design period was reduced to two months from three months, increasing the design efficiency,” said Yin Xiaowei, chief engineer, Qingzhen Vocational Education West Urban District Sewage Treatment Plant.
Handing over the digitised 3D information models upon project completion provided a multiview display and 3D roaming video of the plant that became an indispensable management capability during operations and maintenance. By integrating project design, construction and operations, POWERCHINA Zhongnan drove efficiencies across the life cycle of the sewage treatment plant, to the benefit of the client and customers served.
The standardised design system implemented for the Qingzhen Vocational Education West Urban District sewage treatment plant achieved the goal of reducing design time by 35% and design costs by 30%. The collaborative environment also reduced errors by 90%, which shortened communications with construction contractors and reduced rework. Overall, the project saved the client CNY 300,000.
The efficient system required 60% less labour input than prior plants, enabling virtual operations that could save roughly CNY 800,000 per year. The automation also lowered the risk of human error, reduced management risk and heightened safety.
With a capacity of 20,000 m3/d, Qingzhen Vocational Education West Urban District’s new tertiary treatment plant protects the downstream water that supplies the 4.5 million people of Guiyang City.
This project now serves as the model for POWERCHINA Zhongnan’s subsequent work on 13 other water projects representing 1.3 million m3/d in capacity, serving nearly 47 million people and totalling an investment of CNY 6.4 billion.
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