3D technology supports Hanford design work

Mission Support Alliance is using industry best practices and 3D modeling software to help design a new water treatment facility on the Hanford site.

The Hanford contractor’s 3D modeling is a vital design tool, enabling timely completion of complex projects. In this approach, also known as building information modeling, or BIM, the designers “build” the structure and process elements in a three-dimensional space, allowing personnel from various disciplines to “see” the potential facility and identify potential issues early in the design process, before any physical walls or components are put into place.

“This use of 3D software has allowed us to achieve improved design and cost savings,” said Sharee Dickinson, director of infrastructure and services with the U.S. Department of Energy Richland Operations Office, in a media release.

One example of cost savings resulting from this process was the removal of an auxiliary building. Initially, plans included a second building—about 1,500 square feet—to house backflow preventers and isolation valves for the water treatment plant. To provide adequate freeze protection, this second building would have had to be heated as well, resulting in additional capital costs and ongoing operational costs.

Using the 3D software, MSA crews were able to make some adjustments in the plans for the process room floor and with only a small expansion of the main building blueprint, bring those components inside the main building, eliminating the need for the second building.

The use of 3D visualization also enables detailed and highly interactive design reviews with the MSA water and sewer utility operators, who will be the end-users. Operators can conduct virtual tours of the designed facility, allowing timely and efficient changes. The model also accommodates traditional drawing formats and “flat” construction drawing production by cutting virtual lines and projecting a traditional two-dimensional image.

Dan Parr, who works with MSA’s reliability projects group, is the project manager for the water treatment facility. “With the ability to ‘remove’ the roof and look inside the facility during the design process, we’ve been able to evaluate how the operators will function in the new building, and make adjustments long before construction begins. This will reduce the number of costly last-minute changes during the construction process, and ensure a better functioning facility at the end of the project,” he said in a release.

During one model review meeting, the future operations team wanted to look inside the pipe gallery area. One planner noted that while it was the appropriate design for construction, it might hinder maintenance operations in the future. Operators were worried that if piping or pump components needed to be repaired or replaced, there would not be enough space for workers to do so. Working with the designers and engineers, they were able to adjust the spacing of the pipes, and placement of the light fixtures and the deck grating to provide adequate space for future maintenance needs.

The software being used, a combination of both Autodesk Revit and Navisworks 3D, is used by municipalities and engineering firms worldwide.

MSA contracted with HDR in Pasco to develop the facility design using this software.

Design of the water treatment facility is now 90 percent completed and construction is expected to begin in early 2020, with the facility targeted to be in service in 2021.

The $13.9 million project will provide reliable water to users in the center of the Hanford site.

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