How ‘BIM’ is Revolutionising the Construction Industry (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by MDA Projects on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 with 4 comments
There are numerous definitions of building information modelling (BIM), many of which relegate it to a software package or mere digital model creation. However, BIM is much more than this. It is a continuously evolving business process that enables the digital exploration of a building’s key physical and functional characteristics before, during and after construction. By consolidating information (data) about all aspects or components of a building in one place, critical information becomes accessible to all project participants.

Debunking common BIM misconceptions

Professional designers such as architects and engineers throughout the world commonly use BIM or parts thereof. For this reason it is often perceived as a design process as opposed to a management process. Where architects and engineers may differ at certain phases of a building’s lifecycle, BIM requires careful planning and a cohesive approach. It is in the project management arena therefore that BIM is most likely to have the most effective long-term impact.

Reducing risk of errors

As a shared resource, BIM ensures that participants work together and to the same exacting standards. This means that during a building’s design phase the risk of errors is reduced because clashes and challenges can be detected with a high degree accuracy. Through the simulation of potential problems, reliable solutions and decisions can be made to ensure better design integration and improved constructability.

A new generation of tech-savvy project managers

Unsurprisingly, the management of BIM projects is increasingly becoming the domain of a new generation of tech-savvy project managers. While the core principles of project management remain the same, the way these principles are applied and the speed at which they are implemented is astounding. This new breed of project managers innovate ways to yield the information (data) flow to the benefit of the entire professional construction team and, more importantly, to the benefit of the client.

From line drawings to 3D BIM virtual walk-throughs

Since the early days of two-dimensional (2D) line drawing plans and elevations, BIM has made significant advancements in various industries, including the built environment. South African consultants such as architects and engineers have been using 3D BIM software to perform high quality renderings of buildings and building walk-throughs for some time now. Several models may be realised to represent the various construction project disciplines. Each of these can be assimilated to form a master model to identify if or where the models ‘clash’. Establishing clashes or discrepancies up front (clash detection) significantly improves the construction process resulting in fewer delays, design changes, material costs and reduces the risk of budget overruns.

How 4D ‘time’ improves the planning and scheduling process

While it includes all the capabilities of 3D, 4D BIM incorporates a ‘time’ dimension that provides an overview of the entire construction process. By linking the various 3D components of the construction project disciplines to a delivery timeline, planned construction sequences can be visually rendered, reviewed and resolved. This includes everything from on site space utilisation and materials approval, ordering and storage, to clearer workflow projections and progress reports. Even the most complex project planning and work schedules can be compressed without incurring additional risk.

5D ‘cost’ and model-based estimating

In addition to creating a model that clearly demonstrates how changes to the various components affect the appearance of a building, 5D BIM demonstrates the capabilities of 3D and 4D but with a more multi-dimensional ‘live’ application. All project elements can be seen and reviewed in order to compile a more precise project scope and cost. Any changes to the calculations of a building project will automatically reflect changes in cost calculations.

6D simulation of operational and lifecycle costs

By populating the building model with operational data and transferring the data into simulation software operational costs can be mapped out for the lifecycle of a building. Venturing beyond the construction process, when supplemented with operational data the information collected can be used to determine the benefit of energy efficient installations or installations with higher capital requirements. This will benefit the investment enormously in the long run.

7D facility maintenance management

7D modelling occurs when the building model is populated with detailed information on the various installed components. The information is used as a management tool that enables the extraction and tracking of data, which covers everything from general maintenance to optimisation of operational management systems.

Towards a worldwide BIM standard

In the last decade or so BIM has become the worldwide standard in engineering circles and increasingly in construction and project management. That said there are some who argue that the initial time to implement properly and the face value costs outweigh the value created from the combined efforts of people, building processes and technology. Cost is not a barrier to entry if one considers that in its most basic, entry-level form BIM allows for the kind of efficiency saving that significantly:

• Reduces risk and uncertainty
• Increases accuracy
• Identifies inconsistencies (clash detection) and
• Ensures on site operations are executed more effectively and more cost efficiently

BIM also provides the added benefit of long-term maintenance and operating cost management long after the key handing over phase. As a result, the maintenance process can be meticulously mapped and financially planned for the duration of the building’s lifecycle.

Part 2 of 3
Part 3 of 3