- What is BIM?
- How can it be used?
- Benefits of BIM.
- Disadvantages of BIM.
- Tools and software.
- Costs involved with integrating BIM.
BIM a.k.a Building Information modeling
In the past using complex 2d drawings was the basis of construction planning, which was a tiring process with lots of bottlenecks in it.
Things, however, have changed now. Even though 2d drawings remain an invaluable part of any construction project, integration of new technologies like BIM has immensely helped the slow and rather low-productive industry catch up with other sectors like manufacturing.
BIM (Business Information Modeling) is a process of modeling buildings and other structures in 3d.
It not only involves 3d modeling of buildings but all types of structures like roads railways utilities bridges tunnels structures etc. and not is just 3d modeling, but a comprehensive process of designing a building collaboratively using a coherent system of computer models instead of separate sets of drawings, which makes the process more streamlined.
BIM involves planning designing building and managing buildings and infrastructure.
BIM is collaborative in the sense that it allows many stakeholders to participate in the execution of the project. For example, if a model element like a door or a window of a building is changed or modified then BIM coordinates and updates the changes in all views that display that element. Architects contractors and engineers can then work more collaboratively.
Information is at the heart of a Business Information Modeling system. The information can be accessed and updated at any point in the life cycle of the project, from bidding until its completion.
So, in essence, it is a visual representation of the building process, that extends beyond 3d and integrates other dimensions or levels like4D- which involves scheduling, 5D- which shows the impact of costs over time, etc.
How can BIM be used?
There are many uses of Building Information Modeling for each project stakeholder in at each stage in the project life cycle from planning to completion and operation.
Some of its uses at different times in the construction project life cycle include
- It is used in the planning and scheduling of the project. Two common scheduling methods are used to create Building Information Models. These are the critical path method (CPM) and line of balance.
- CPM is a commonly used technique that helps determine the completion time of a project by making use of network diagrams.
- LOB (Line of Balance) is a planning technique that is used to plan repetitive tasks. During the design phase, BIM can be used in Project visualization and identifying problems. It can be used to detect clashes between activities and elements and the design team then can come up with ideas and provide solutions.
- A record of Building Information Model at the end of a project can be used to manage security and safety information such as emergency lighting, emergency power, etc.
- It is used in cost estimation by using data-rich building information models.
Better collaboration and communication between teams.
Since executing the construction project involves extensive sharing, collaborating, and versioning of drawings and designs, it is painstakingly difficult to do that manually. Digital BIM models aid Architects, engineers, and builders to collaborate easily.
There are cloud-based tools available that help in sharing project models, coordination, planning, and many other aspects involved. It helps ensure the stakeholders are informed and have a proper understanding of what is going on in the project.
Documentation and filing also become easy and the process of planning is expedited.
Repeated site visits are also eliminated in the planning phase as one team can scan a location and then share the data to others in the team, who work with the data as and when needed.
Cost estimation is an important activity in the construction of any structure.
It is a tedious activity that requires quantification of the elements of the structure. Experience shows that 50-80% of the time needed to create a cost estimate is spent just on quantification and is also prone to errors. Using the power of BIM to create fairly accurate cost estimates can save a lot of time and money.
Preconstruction Project Visualizations
The BIM models are extremely helpful in providing a visual representation of structures before they are constructed, offering improved project plan, and also help in checking interference among building systems.
Improved clash Detection
By visualizing structures before the beginning of construction, any clashes like between electrical fittings and other structural elements can be detected, eliminating the amount of rework and saving time and money.
Once buildings and structures are modeled they can be used any time at any place. The benefit of working in a controlled environment is that you can reduce waste and time required to make drawings, as the models can be updated and all the stakeholders would have the insight of it. It also increases efficiency, reduces labor and material costs.
Safety at Construction Sites
Since a visual representation of the project is made in the early stage of the process, evaluating the model can help in identifying hazards before they become problems and help in reducing potential accidents, which not only saves lives and enhances the work environment but also results in indirect cost savings.
Building information models detailed information about the elements of the project and determine the resources needed. This helps in procurement and saves money in many ways.
Disadvantages of BIM
Even though BIM appears to be a promising technology it has some disadvantages that must be considered before deciding to implement it in a project. Some of them are:
- Legal issues: Since BIM is still new to the construction industry the legal ramifications of using BIM software cannot be extensively evaluated.
- Expensive to use and implement: BIM requires the commitment of significant resources in monetary terms and training of personnel. It requires training of staff to acquire the knowledge of several important areas necessary for its implementation like the technical knowledge for using software for modeling. On top of it, the monetary investment is not limited to one time only. Regular upgrades are required over a period of time. It is one of the reasons many small firms are reluctant towards their implementation in their business.
- Lack of experts: since BIM is relatively new, there are not many experts in the field and the lack of well-defined standards makes it even more difficult to implement it.
The tools available in the market for modeling building information are a lot more than what one would think.
Despite it being expensive and complex to implement BIM the report by NBS- a technology platform for the construction industry- showed that a significant portion of the companies and firms are implementing it.
NBS publishes The National BIM Report every year. It gathered data from nearly 1,000 construction industry professionals to learn about BIM adoption, standards implementation, and technology.
Some of the most popular BIM software as reported by the survey respondents include:
- Revit – 46%
- AutoCAD & AutoCAD LT – 24%
- ArchiCAD – 15%
Costs involved with integrating BIM
BIM can be a very expensive solution and careful cost-benefit analysis must be made before deciding for implementing BIM. It involves several direct and indirect costs, some of which include:
- A significant chunk of the total investment in BIM will go into the up-gradation of hardware. This can, however, be reduced by using cloud-based services.
- BIM Software licensing can is also a substantial part of the total investment in BIM. It can be very expensive costing thousands. The subscriptions are not one time and need to be renewed frequently, depending on the subscription plan you opt for.
- The premium in terms of increased salary to trained personnel who can make full use of BIM.
- The training of existing personnel.
To sum it up, BIM is more than a 3d model. It is an integrated system that can be used to build more efficiently.
Even though it is in its inception and expensive, the future looks reasonably bright for BIM.
Ultimately it is for you to decide whether or not implementing BIM is worth your time and investment.
Regardless of what you decide, the role of technology in the construction industry will only be more pronounced in the future.
Explorer, writter and a teacher.