Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is quickly becoming the standard in building and project design. This model-based approach is used for both communication and collaboration; however, there’s more to BIM than just 3D models.
A BIM file is an information-rich collection of data that can be accessed and collaborated on by different stakeholders — from the design team to contractors, construction engineers, and owners. The implementation of BIM (building information modeling) can save time and money, provide realistic models at every step of a project’s lifecycle, and be used to make presentations to people who might not have specialist architectural or design-based knowledge.
Here are the top 10 reasons to implement BIM
1. Capture the most accurate representations of the site
BIM can make use of a wide range of advanced design and mapping tools. 3D scanning is increasingly being used to build up incredibly detailed 3D representations of existing sites and structures. These instruments fire thousands of laser pulses per second to create ‘point clouds’ that can then be converted into a 3D model showing the physical characteristics of the site and any existing buildings or infrastructure. Each point in the point cloud contains measurement data and can then be used in BIM software to generate accurate models of the real world conditions. For larger locations, digital images can also be created aerially using aircraft or drones.
2. It’s perfect for collaboration
Different aspects of the model can be accessed and either examined or added to by different stakeholders. This means that professionals from diverse disciplines can all bring their own expertise and input to the same model, whether they are architects, engineers, contractors or owners keeping up to date with the project. Various tools and functionalities, many of which can be accessed from the cloud, allow a symbiotic approach that would simply not be possible using paper or even separate digital systems.
3. Save time and effort
Multiple models are created by each discipline and then combined to represent a composite construction model. At each step of the design/construction workflow, each stakeholder will add their means and methods of construction. The result is a very robust amount of data; however, it is comprised of multiple models and not one single file.
Digital modeling also makes redraws and redesigns much quicker and easier. BIM files contain a database, meaning that some items and structural parts are pulled from a catalog of models with intelligent attributes assigned to the model such as cost, manufacturer, size, etc. These intelligent objects can then be used to automate steps, such as enumerating the numbers of windows or other components required for quantity take-offs to save time and reduce error.
It’s also useful to remember that any reduction in time and work directly translates to a monetary saving.
4. Stay in control of your work
BIM systems typically utilize functions such as autosave and connections to a project history to ensure that additions and changes are never lost and that a deleted or corrupted file need not be a disaster. Using a digital model-based workflow can help ensure that all work is captured and that the project history continues to grow, while still allowing easy access to earlier steps and versions.
5. Use simulation tools
Useful though they are, BIM can be used to create more than just 2D drawings and 3D models. Some systems can be used to produce models that incorporate additional elements, such as time and cost, to create holistic packages of information regarding the functionality as well as the design of the building. Modern simulation tools can be used to model the potential effects of a wide range of factors, from testing the logic of a construction schedule to analyzing the amount of sunlight on a given side of a building during different seasons and the projected cost savings over time based on a building’s energy performance.
6. Resolve conflicts before they happen
The outward appearance of a new building might be the thing that grabs a spectator’s eye, and the more inquisitive might appreciate the structural features, especially on a particularly large or tall structure. Not many spectators will give much thought to the internal elements, but the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) systems are incredibly important. They allow the building to function and help keep people who live, work at, or visit the site, safe and comfortable.
These systems can also be extremely complex. Some of them will intersect and interact in places, but they all need their own physical space to meet the relevant safety and quality standards. BIM can be used and implemented to coordinate these and any other systems to ensure there are no design conflicts. It is far better to build these systems and other physical components in a digital model first, where issues can be flagged and resolved before any boots hit the construction site ground.
7. Coordinate steps and processes
The 3D model can be used to create a set of sub-models to represent each stage of the construction process. Some elements of these sub-models can be set to update and evolve automatically, saving more time and effort in the design process.
Just as importantly, the sub-models can be saved and consulted by engineers, construction workers, and other professionals during construction. This will give a detailed, accurate step-by-step guide to help ensure that all those meticulous plans and models are re-created accurately on the ground, whether humans or robots are attending to the smallest details.
8. Access it anywhere
Standalone CAD software has traditionally required a lot of processing power. Cloud applications are revolutionizing both CAD and BIM packages by taking the bulk of the processing strain and performing in the cloud. This means that complex BIM models and other information can be accessed on different devices and in different locations at any time, whether the user is traveling, visiting stakeholders in their own offices, or deployed onsite.
9. Create traditional plans
The digital models created within the BIM system are incredibly useful, but there may also be times when certain members of the team will request more traditional reports, plans, sections, elevations and other features. While BIM produces a series of integrated models, individual elements can be separated out and distributed, whether in digital formats or using print-outs.
10. Make perfect presentations
The models can be accessed and investigated by professionals working on the project at different stages, with each able to access the levels of detail and specifications they require to bring their own expertise to the ever-evolving model.
BIM models can also be used to create augmented visualizations that bring designs to life through mixed reality, allowing anyone to see what the finished project will look like onsite. This is ideal for making visual presentations to owners, backers, investors and other stakeholders to review design changes or evaluate clashes between systems in an immersive 3D environment.
Now that you can see some of the benefits of adopting BIM, you can take the necessary steps for your firm. To learn more about what it takes to implement BIM and how it can take your business to the next level, download our free ebook, Adapt or Die— Why Adopt Tech Trends in a Competitive Construction Market?
About the Author
David is the Segment Manager for Trimble MEP Field Solutions. Through the use of positioning technology, David is focused on the product management, implementation of layout solutions, and 3D laser scanners to advance the field productivity of the MEP contracting trades.More Content by David Burczyk