Illinois Tollway Ensures Small and Diverse Businesses Engaged as Tollway Leads Industry in 3-D Design and Engineering

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The Illinois Tollway has been at the forefront of developing Building Information Modeling – or BIM – and the use of digital files for deliverables in design and construction. 

BIM enables engineers to create 3-D models of projects and then integrate the digital files through planning, design, construction and asset management processes. Benefits from using the digital files include not only time and cost savings, but also increased accuracy during to deliver better construction projects. 

As part of its ongoing adoption of this advancing technology, the Tollway’s Department of Diversity and Strategic Development and Engineering Department partnered to offer several opportunities in February for small contractors to expand their knowledge of model-based construction software and equipment and learn how the new technology is being incorporated into Tollway construction contracts.
Focusing on Automated Machine Guidance (AMG) technology for grading, the Tollway offered a Building For Success Webinar offering construction firms an introduction to the technology to increase awareness and encourage adoption of this technology by small and diverse businesses. The webinar also provided a snapshot of upcoming small business contract opportunities that will incorporate AMG and information on Partnering for Growth short-term relationships for advancing technologies. 
For firms interested in learning more, the Tollway followed up with two workshops including one day of virtual classroom training and a one day “in the field”  demonstration to experience first-hand how AMG works with assistance from contractors already using the technology and equipment vendors. 

During the virtual classroom training small contractors were able to walk through the basic interface of the software and equipment and then hear from larger firms that have already adopted AMG technology to learn how they as a contractor utilize the models and the benefits that result from adoption of the technology.

The hands-on demonstration allowed equipment vendors to walk the small firms through the process of taking digital files provided by a designer and integrating them into GPS-based equipment to transmit the model data to construction grading machinery on site including a bulldozer and a hydraulic excavator. Then they were able to discuss how on actual construction site the model data would feed the contractors’ construction equipment, automating the blade to improve the accuracy of the machine performing earthwork.  

The training and demonstrations not only served to introduce participating firms with the benefits and capabilities of model-based construction software, but also provided a better understanding of how the use of digital models increases efficiency and accuracy to build the project to the lines and grades of the contract. The GPS based technology increases the efficiency and accuracy of the equipment, ultimately benefitting a contractors labor and cost to perform the work.

Participants from 20 different small firms, attended the virtual classroom training that included assistance from Curran Contracting and Plote Construction on February 22, and then nine small firms participated in the February 24 hands-on field demonstration with vendors including Topcon Solutions, Roland Machinery and Sitech Midway and contractors. 

The Illinois Tollway understands the benefits of digital files and the associated AMG technology can bring to the transportation industry and has made accommodations for this in future construction bid packages. By taking this initiative to offer training and access, the Tollway is helping small and diverse contractors stay current with industry trends and ensuring small businesses remain competitive on future contracting opportunities.  

These events are part of the Illinois Tollway's efforts to increase the pool of firms participating in the 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program and is open to construction and professional engineering services firms, including disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned businesses as well as small and veteran-owned firms.