Chinese engineering firm uses 3-D design technology
to optimize collaboration and improve efficiency
With more than 50 years of experience providing electric power engineering solutions, Hubei Electric Engineering Corp. (HEEC), a subsidiary of POWERCHINA Ltd., was commissioned by the State Grid Corp. of China to design and build a large indoor substation in the congested capital city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.
“The 220 kilovolt substation provides reliable power supply covering 16 square kilometers, improving the power grid structure of Dongxiu High-Tech Park and living quality of 400,000 residents in the surrounding area,” said Wang Wei, team leader, Digital Center at HEEC.
The 172 million Chinese Yuan (CNY), or nearly $26 million, substation project required the layout and design of a two-story facility housing, three sets of 240 megavolt ampere transformers, and an underground cable network comprising 220kV, 110kV and 10kV outgoing power lines. The constraints of a compact building space and dense urban surroundings, combined with the complicated arrangement of numerous cables varying in voltages, necessitated precise design and engineering on a tight schedule. To ensure accurate information sharing and avoid risk of clashes among electrical, structural, irrigation works, heating, ventilation and construction disciplines, HEEC relied on Bentley design and analysis technology to implement an integrated, collaborative 3-D modeling approach.
Reality Modeling Provides Context for Precise Design
HEEC needed to understand the context of the surrounding structures when designing the facility. To rationalize the station and outgoing cable layout with minimal impact to the local community and environment, HEEC used Bentley’s ContextCapture to capture existing site conditions. The team used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capture images of the existing neighborhood and used ContextCapture to perform aerial triangulation calculations to generate a detailed reality model. With the captured site conditions, HEEC created a 3-D geo-referenced reality model that facilitated precise design of the substation within the context of the city surroundings. This approach provided the planning team sufficient insight into how the substation would be built and the impact it would have on the environment and residents. This insight prevented HEEC from demolishing four nearby houses.
“The real 3-D models set up precise environmental space for the substation and outgoing cable line design,” said Wei.
Collaborative 3-D Modeling
HEEC used several Bentley products throughout the project. In addition to the modeling and analysis technology used to implement a collaborative 3-D design approach, collaboration software was used to create a connected data environment to manage the project workflow. This facilitated an integrated design process that allowed multiple disciplines to work in parallel, avoiding collisions and saving time and costs. Other Bentley products allowed the electrical team to perform the design of the main wiring, electrical equipment scheme, stress calculations and arrangement of wires, as well as lighting protection and grounding.
In addition, the team could create a detailed cabling and routing layout. The design applications allowed the project team to efficiently display the cable space strike and path relative to the substation walls, beams, columns and cable tunnel for optimal positioning.
“Due to the compact building space, the cross span of the cable lay space was extremely complicated. We used Bentley Substation to determine the design and accurately plan each cable strike,” explained Wei.
The project team used AECOsim Building Designer to design the architectural and structural elements of the substation facility. The design included walls, doors, windows and floors, as well as sectional layouts of concrete beams and columns, reducing concrete volumes for optimal material use. The team used the same product to design the irrigation works and heating and ventilation systems, including air conditioning, axial flow fan and water and wastewater pipe designs. By integrating the various applications, HEEC leveraged the digital engineering models to optimize multi-discipline design, collaboration and visualization. HEEC reduced rework, minimized clashes, and offered a connected data environment for project participants, creating a collaborative building information modeling (BIM) process.
Mobile Apps Accelerate Information Mobility
During construction, the project team applied Bentley mobile apps to further leverage the digital engineering models to enhance decision making, reduce collisions and improve design review efficiency. Field personnel used iPads equipped with the apps to gain real-time access to model information. The apps provided an immersive view of engineering models and equipment data, giving the construction team clear insight.
In addition, mobile applications were used to introduce cable details to the construction team and convert local models of the cable arrangements into 3-D PDF files to guide them. This solution reduced workload time by 15 days and minimized on-site communication time. The flexible platforms installed on mobile devices greatly improved vertical collaboration between design and construction and accelerated accurate information sharing to meet the tight project schedule.
Integrated Modeling Delivers Savings
An integrated BIM approach using 3-D modeling and design applications, supported by a well-managed workflow, facilitated effective communication, enabled efficient substation planning and accurate design, and allowed the team to overcome engineering and collaboration challenges. The real 3-D model set up the precise environmental space for the substation design and cable layout.
“The 3D model of the substation (incorporated) with the reality model of the surrounding area truly reproduced the actuality of the site,” said Wei.
These 3-D digital designs saved 50 labor days and 50,000 CNY ($7,500) in design costs. In addition, it avoided rework in at least 10 instances during construction to save another 2 million CNY ($302,000). Converting the models into 3-D PDFs and using mobile apps during construction saved additional time for the cable arrangement, enabling the refined layout of dozens of high-voltage cables, minimizing risk and ensuring safe and stable substation operations.
As a final and significant cost-efficient step in its BIM methodology, HEEC imported the engineering model in i-model format into Bentley’s AssetWise, enabling the extraction of substation data, technical specifications and operation information to support substation management. With a connected data environment for all the substation asset information, HEEC will save significant costs throughout future operation and maintenance of the Miaoshan 220kV secondary transformer, while ensuring safe and reliable power supply.
Cyndi Smith is senior industry marketing director for utilities (electric and gas, communications, water and wastewater) globally for Bentley. She has overall market responsibility for Bentley’s solutions for owner/operators and EPCs (engineering, procurement and construction) in these markets.