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New Ezhou Huahu Airport Provides Gateway Connecting China's Air Express to the World

Bentley's iTwin Technology Saves CNY 300 Million Delivering Asia's First Professional International Cargo Airport

Developing an International Cargo Hub

The new Ezhou Huahu Airport in Hubei province is being built as an international airport, multipurpose cargo hub, and aviation logistics port. It will act as an entryway for air commerce between China and the rest of the world. It is located to the east of Ezhou.

The airport, which has a passenger terminal and one of the biggest transfer centers in the world, is China's first dedicated airport freight hub. It is anticipated to serve as a passenger transportation branch line, public platform, and aircraft base.

The 11.89 square kilometers (CNY 30.8 billion) project has a total construction area of 900,000 square meters. It has widebody aircraft facilities and is one of Asia's biggest air cargo hubs. It is planned to handle 2.45 million tons of cargo and 1.5 million passengers by 2030 and 9.08 million tons of freight and 20 million people annually by 2050.

The finished integral airport will cover five national-level city clusters and connect to a regional train, water, highway, and aviation facilities, benefiting 80% of the nation's population and 90% of its economic output. The entire planning, building, and management of the airport are the responsibilities of Hubei International Logistics Airport.

Coordinating Multiple Participants, Voluminous Data, and Complex Processes

The project's sheer size and scope posed coordination and technical obstacles exacerbated by challenging geological conditions and a constrained timeframe. One of the largest trans-shipment terminals in the world, the airport's transfer center covers a construction area of 750,000 square meters and has a floor area of 300,000 square meters.

The facility, which consists of three main areas—a flight area, a terminal, and a transportation system into and out of the airport—involves coordinating civil aviation, local government, and construction projects. It also includes numerous complex equipment processes that require modeling and integration.

The project was challenging to manage and organize because it involved three separate businesses, 29 disciplines with more than 50 partners spread across several sites, and over 600 on-site workers. Because of this, streamlining procedures and maintaining the project's timeline require a collaborative digital environment. Hubei wants to digitalize the planning, design, construction, management, and operations processes and deploy a thorough BIM methodology.

They soon discovered, however, that they required an integrated digital technology solution capable of managing massive volumes of multi-sourced data and intelligent lifecycle operations because there were no current civil aviation BIM standards. The Ezhou Huahu Airport contains 25 million model components, the most acknowledged quantity of necessary model components in the local BIM industry.

According to Zou Xianqiang, chief engineer of Hubei International Logistics Airport, the project needs a suitable platform to handle massive volumes of data and view BIM features while ensuring the model's seamless functioning.

Leveraging BIM and iTwin Technology Provides Integrated Solution

Hubei International Logistics Airport used several cutting-edge strategies to overcome the obstacles they encountered while working on this project. For instance, they used Bentley's BIM and the Bentley iTwin platform to handle an enormous quantity of data, facilitate communication among the various project partners, and produce a highly accurate model that could be used to oversee on-site construction and facility operations.

Also, they created a collaborative digital work environment with ProjectWise, which facilitated the on-site BIM work of more than 50 collaborating units and streamlined processes between the various disciplines.

They created a 3D model of the airport using Bentley's modeling software and the first BIM-based, full-lifecycle digital construction management platform in China's civil aviation sector. Finally, OpenRoads assisted them in creating a quick modeling tool with 11 categories, 40 sub-items, and a database of over 30,000 component kinds. The team constructed the subsurface pipeline system and developed a pavement compression model for quick concrete pavement partitioning in the flying area, thanks to the program's advantages. Xianqiang stated, 250,000 pavement slabs were partitioned with one click, ensuring on-site construction precision.

Also, combining ProStructures with Navigator made using mobile devices to coordinate structural models with the on-site construction team easier.

Hubei created a cloud-based digital twin based on the Bentley iTwin platform that could incorporate massive engineering data and model parts, supporting construction management and lifecycle operations. The Ezhou Huahu Airport fully utilizes iTwin technology, conducts independent research, creates a cutting-edge application platform, and integrates the BIM model to integrate the airport's multidisciplinary model and make the airport project's BIM data management possible, according to Xianqiang.

The digital airport was made more accessible by utilizing Bentley's integrated BIM and iTwin technologies, which created a highly accurate 3D model and digital twin to enhance the multidisciplinary design, construction, and project management.

Digital Twin Drives Smart Industry Practices

Hubei International Logistics Airport streamlined multidiscipline collaboration across all three industries by leveraging ProjectWise and Bentley's BIM tools, cutting model delivery time by 90 days and saving CNY 12 million. Using Navigator to present and interact with the model with the on-site construction team increased productivity by 25% compared to conventional construction techniques.

The cloud-based platform supplied by Bentley's iTwin technology allowed for the development of a digital twin that could accommodate vast amounts of 3D data from numerous sources, models, characteristics, and documents.

Hubei International Logistics Airport provided a thorough digital context for the entire project by introducing the idea of digital twins, which allowed them to identify design modifications in advance and avoid changes during construction, considerably reducing costs and shortening the construction period. "Through whole-process digital management, the digital quality in design construction was effectively guaranteed, and [we saved more than 200 days during] the construction period," claimed Xianqiang. The digital twin solution rectified over 6,000 difficulties, and there was no need for site demolition, which resulted in a CNY 300 million project cost savings.

Hubei used Bentley applications to create China's first BIM components information table, covering BIM standards for 29 professional systems across three industries: civil aviation, construction, and municipal administration.

This gave them the groundwork to build a digital airport while resolving technical and coordination issues. They integrated cutting-edge digital management concepts and workflow processes through iTwin technology and digital twins to create entire lifecycle BIM and intelligent practices for China's civil aviation sector. To speed up the development of innovative civil aviation and create an industrial ecology that supports the development of intelligent civil aviation in China, the project "provides a valuable reference for BIM application in the digital construction of [a] civil aviation airport," according to Xianqiang.



Teresa Elliott, Senior Director, Industry Marketing, Bentley Systems


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