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Dubai RTA’s champion of BIM strategy for Digital Transformation wins AEC Excellence award

Dubai RTA’s champion of BIM strategy for Digital Transformation wins AEC Excellence award

ConstructionDigital TransformationIntelligent TechnologySoftwareTop StoriesTransportUAE

Wajdi Mereb, became the first UAE winner of the prestigious Innovator of the Year category in the AEC Excellence Awards 2020 after overcoming 34 other nominees from around the world.

Mereb impressed judges with his work at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to establish a more data driven approach to transport solutions with technologies such as building information modelling (BIM).

The Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) Excellence Awards is an international programme co-sponsored by Autodesk Inc, an American multinational software corporation that makes products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education and entertainment industries.

Each year the AEC Excellence Awards celebrate the people, projects and technologies behind the world’s best in architecture, engineering, and construction.

Mereb led a Digital Transformation at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and is driving the organisation to become a fully intelligent, integrated data-driven asset owner and building an ecosystem to deliver smart and agile transportation solutions. Five years ago, when he joined the RTA, Dubai’s transportation projects were still being designed in two dimensions.

The move to three-dimensional modelling in BIM was imperative. After studying architecture, earning his master’s degree with a thesis on BIM implementation quality assurance/quality control in construction, and working as a BIM manager on large projects for an infrastructure team, Mereb proved to be an ideal champion for the strategy.

“The idea of using BIM isn’t always an easy decision when it’s a large, government entity,” he said. “RTA set out a strategic road map to see how BIM technology could help us. During the implementation we set certain KPIs to check if we were receiving the benefits. From there, we could begin to standardise more and more.”

Today, he is the Chief Specialist for the assets department at RTA. He’s responsible for objectives that led to the first BIM Level 2 compliance protocol in the Middle East and enabled RTA to become the first organisation to achieve the BSI kitemark certifications “PAS 1192-2,3,5” and ISO 19650 worldwide. The RTA team has also set up the first “BIM Centre” for training and collaboration in the region.

He has made exceptional efforts to facilitate change within RTA toward a full commitment to digital transformation and adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution concepts. Driving support for the digital twin ecosystem and maturity has also enabled structured asset optimisation for complete and reliable oversight and transparency in an accessible, traceable, modifiable, and configurable style.

Over the past five years, his BIM leadership and vision have truly been on display through the Route 2020 project. The new, multi-billion railway extension connects to the world exhibition event Expo 2021 and will serve hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

This massive project provided the opportunity to take full advantage of BIM and real-time collaboration and coordination processes as well as support the implementation of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. This included digital site inspections performed with AI and scan-to-BIM; federated 3D models supporting successful VR/AR integration with CDE and CMMS; and accessing reliable data via BIM-GIS interoperability and integration into workflows with ArcGIS.

And the results are definitely in the numbers:

  • 18% Return on investment (ROI)
  • 30% reduction in data exchange efforts
  • 95% clash-free, multi-disciplinary models
  • 30% reduction in decision-making time
  • 40% less time of generating material take-offs
  • 30% decrease in shop drawing submission time
  • 20% reduction in risk and mitigation process
  • 25% improvement in productivity and efficiency during construction sequence

“RTA is a regional benchmark for other entities. It has led to a market and culture change as far as Digital Transformation phenomena is concerned because we are looking at the full picture of the asset—not just the design, construction, or handover. It’s all about the full lifecycle. At the end of the day, we are the asset owner who will manage it from concept to operations and even disposal. With BIM, we have all the data we will need,” said Mereb.

Over his 15-year career, he has seen the transformative possibilities of BIM as the AEC industry embraces technology.

“COVID is devastating, but it has accelerated Digital Transformation in AEC,” he stated. “Our team could still work from home and we didn’t have any setbacks. I think many people in the industry were afraid before of using some solutions such as the cloud-based platforms. But, because of the pandemic, many organisations know there isn’t any other choice but to move forward and keep doing their jobs.

“I think in five years we will see more and more adaptation of Fourth Industrial Revolution solutions. We will also see more integration and collaboration between different stakeholders. And I know we can all move towards delivering smarter and more agile transport solutions,” he added.

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