Innovative BIM for Bridges

Bridge design, ALLPLAN, BIM

With ALLPLAN’s BIM solution for bridges, the bridge community can fulfil BIM requirements efficiently and intuitively: modelling, structural analysis and detailing in one single solution

While BIM provides an overall strategy for coordinating activities throughout the entire project lifecycle, the lack of an integrated BIM and bridge design and analysis solution has meant that BIM is more of a challenge for bridge engineers to implement. With a coordinated approach using state-of-the-art technology, BIM is no longer a barrier to overcoming the unique problems this complex sector presents.

Maintaining safety

The structural integrity of bridges is a critical and recurrent issue in civil engineering. Currently, many thousands of bridges worldwide are structurally deficient and in need of major maintenance, with some approaching the end of their design life. The associated cost to rehabilitate these existing structures is an additional burden on already stretched maintenance budgets.

While every bridge is subject to environmental factors that affect its condition over time – such as growing traffic volumes, adverse weather conditions, temperature fluctuations and corrosive agents such as road salt – some causes can even be traced back to the quality of the original design and construction. The reasons for this are many and varied, but commonly include inconsistent design data, unreliable information exchange between fragmented parties, poor change control procedures and insufficient design timescales and budgets.

BIM for bridge design can help resolve these problems by providing a single source of truth for the project, which can be accessed in real-time from anywhere in the world using cloud-based platforms and openBIM data exchange interfaces. And with a unified BIM solution designed specifically for the unique needs of the bridge industry, managing the design process and any changes is significantly more efficient, thereby increasing design productivity and quality.

Reducing time and cost overruns

Bridges are incredibly complex structures to both design and construct, particularly those with double curvatures or variable cross-sections. Optimising the bridge geometry and the position of internal and external, longitudinal, transverse and vertical tendons further increases the intricacy of the design process. To communicate these designs using 2D tools, hundreds of drawings must be created manually, taking valuable time. Design changes must also be made by hand in every document at every design stage.

Even when using a 3D solution, the geometric bridge model is often distinct from the analytical model and both need to be updated separately. This increases the potential for errors and leads to inconsistencies and collisions – which are often only detected at the construction site.

In addition, the construction costs are often estimated based on experience or by rule of thumb, leading to optimistic projections. The result is time delays and cost overruns to both the design and construction phases.

One of the main benefits of BIM is the ability to have all the project information contained in a central model. While this has typically been an issue for bridge design, the Allplan Bridge solution is now able to provide a unified geometric, structural analysis and detailing bridge model. By linking these traditionally separate models, the parametric 3D geometry of the bridge can be represented while also serving as an analytical model for static and dynamic calculations along the time axis.

This single-model approach ensures increasing RoI for bridge design and construction companies worldwide: Any change in any of the bridge lifecycle phase is reflected once to the entire bridge project – a single source of truth. Bridge engineers can also leverage the computing power of openBIM to create accurate cost estimates based on factual data and quantities derived from the model.

The benefits of digital bridge design

While BIM for bridges can help overcome the challenges that bridge engineers face, it also provides a range of other benefits during the entire project lifecycle. Aspects such as reliable and consistent data exchange amongst team members, efficient design processes using parametric modelling, better collision detection and collaboration for improved design and construction quality and fewer delays throughout the project are just some of the benefits that an integrated BIM solution designed specifically for bridges – such as Allplan Bridge solution – can help deliver and increase RoI significantly.

The digital model must suit all needs of the process, from the preliminary design phase via detailed design and construction to the operation phase throughout the lifetime of a bridge. Different stakeholders are involved in these different phases; therefore, interfaces must be provided and the whole process must be shaped to avoid misunderstandings, errors and multiple entries of redundant data as far as possible. Bridge structures are generally highly governed by the construction process requiring specific structural analyses and in-time outputs to be checked during the process.

With ALLPLAN’s innovative solution, bridge engineers can fulfil BIM requirements: create an intelligent, digital 4D model of the bridge structure, construction process, structural analysis, design and detailing. Combining the detailed geometric model and a structural analysis model in a common environment and integrating time-related data enables projects to be completed more competitively, with less risk and greater accuracy than ever before. BIM is no longer an obstacle to delivering safe and innovative bridges on time and to budget – it is an essential component of transparent, collaborative, and cost-effective project delivery.

More information:



Vanja Samec

Managing Director

ALLPLAN Infrastructure GmbH

Tel: +43 316 269786


Please note: this is a commercial profile.


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