Infrastructure, Energy & MaterialsOctober 26, 2021

How a virtual twin helped create a bridge

The following article is excerpted from Infrastructure Lifecycle Management Through Virtual Twins, a…
Avatar Lin Miao

The following article is excerpted from Infrastructure Lifecycle Management Through Virtual Twins, a whitepaper developed by Dassault Systèmes. To read more and learn more about virtual twin for design automation, download the full whitepaper here.

SMEDI, Ganjiang Second Bridge – Virtual Twin for Design Automation

SMEDI (Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute) is particularly strong in designing bridges. Actually, the Institute designed almost all the major bridges in Shanghai. Of course, SMEDI’s work goes way beyond the city of Shanghai.

One notable example is the Ganjiang Second Bridge in Jiangxi Province, which has a “fish-like” design that fits very well within the surrounding landscape. The complex structure of the bridge is comprised of a steel upper part, a concrete lower structure and in the middle, a mixed concrete and steel section. BIM enabled a clear division of work for the different engineers and their respective components.


The design work for the bridge was led by SMEDI, with engineers from different disciplines collaborating. The project manager was a senior civil design engineer. A dedicated engineer designed the skeleton, determining the framework of the entire bridge. Another specialist engineer focused on the steel structure, while a further designer concentrated on creating a library of components for the various distinct features in the bridge.

SMEDI’s collaborative design process meant that they clearly defined and divided the work involved, coordinated the roles and tasks and seamlessly managed the entire project.


In the conceptual design stage, the software allows designers to quickly create complex curves as skeleton lines and even supports using digital sketch tablets. With the skeleton lines created, the component library is crucial to the success of the project. The components (like piers, beams, columns, etc.) are intelligent, rule-based parametric objects and well-categorized in the library. The designers can select desired components from the library and put them on the skeleton lines and then the components adjust their sizes automatically to fit the skeleton lines and generate the BIM model in a well-coordinated manner. If designers change skeleton lines, it drives all components to update along with it, thus greatly saving modification time.

The SMEDI solutions can be animated to better showcase the proposed design concept, making them more functional than the static 3D visualization drawings which were produced previously.


During the design of construction drawing stage, the software can check for conflicting production directions, as well as design errors. Users input measurements into the software to conduct analysis and optimize the build. These additional safety checks are of paramount importance for bridge design and construction.

Indeed, this software helped make it much easier for SMEDI to make changes to the design, which can be very frequent and even at the last minute. In the past, making design changes could sometimes take even longer than the original design stage itself.

Excerpted from Infrastructure Lifecycle Management Through Virtual Twins, a Dassault Systèmes whitepaper. Download to learn more.

This white paper is presenting industry trends in Construction, Cities & Territories covering infrastructure lifecycle management through virtual twin. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is currently taking over the traditional methods for infrastructure developments, operation and maintenance. Using BIM and virtual twin allow collection, analysis, and aggregation of data and enhances collaboration between different stakeholders, from design to operation and maintenance.

Related links:

Dassault Systèmes Construction, Cities & Territories Industry

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