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Building information modelling (BIM) 3D view of the Caribbean Container Port in The Bahamas

No substitute for experience

The competitive advantage to be gained by being fully automated – when your rivals are not – results in understandable secrecy when an operator takes that step.

ProjectCaribbean container port
ExpertiseApplication of BIM in design of an automated yard

BIM image of the Caribbean container port yard & quay with services coordination

BIM image of the Caribbean container port yard with services coordination


We designed a fully automated terminal expansion in the Caribbean – a state-of-the-art facility that pushed boundaries and forged new relationships with suppliers and third parties.

Our team of designers, led by senior project manager Ann Woulfe, extended the quay length from 800m to 1500m, boosting throughput from 1.5M TEU to more than 3M. One of the successes of the project was the use of building information modelling (BIM) to create 3D virtual models across the three core engineering disciplines: civil, electrical and structural. Delicate and interdependent tasks such as siting the load-bearing crane rails for automated stacking, connecting the electric supply into the ring main and laying fibre optics for port communications were made much easier and more accurate.

“That was a game changer within the realm of port design,” says Ann. “The stacking area was extremely congested, so getting the drainage right first time would have been almost impossible with 2D modelling. We were able to find the right fit quicker and with fewer compromises, which delivered further efficiencies for our client.”

Ann also highlights the open, collaborative environment within the multi-disciplinary team as a key reason for the project’s smooth running. “BIM demands a one-team culture and we made sure that nobody worked in isolation. Each of the core disciplines, plus the principal suppliers, could see each other’s plans at all times.” Design, construction and logistics were all included.

“I’ve never seen another consultancy approach a job like this, in this way. It was a unique achievement and I’m extremely proud of our efforts. This was a hugely challenging assignment, with a lot at stake, and we came through well. We worked under intense pressure to deliver a very high-quality product. Our client was initially sceptical of our use of BIM but, as the design developed, the value began to emerge and the client’s views changed.

“Clearly there is a significant cost and programme advantage for the project if design clashes between structures and ducts in the highly congested yard area can be spotted and corrected in the design office, and not when you have a fully mobilised construction site standing and waiting for an answer.”

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