A Look Into Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process used for collaborating on digital building designs according to a coherent model, as opposed to a collection of separate ideas. In the broader range of commercial and industrial applications, the word “building” is used as a synonym for civil engineering.
BIM has been described by the National Institute of Building Sciences as a paradigm that encompasses the physical and functional qualities of an entity through digital representation, based on which information is gleaned and decisions are made during the lifecycle of said entity.
Among the concept’s many proponents, not all agree on the exact parameters of BIM, but everyone acknowledges it combines technology with a system of working strategies. BIM is a multidisciplinary concept in which all working groups within an organization must be equally involved.
The History of BIM
Conceptually, BIM has its roots in the 1970s, when collaborative business sectors realized new means of communication were needed to intercommunicate with one another. The term “business model” first appeared in print by GMW software developer Simon Ruffle in reference to the application of his company’s software by Heathrow Airport.
The full term ‘Building Information Model’ was coined in the early 1990s, but only became widespread after Autodesk published a whitepaper on the topic after the turn of the millennium. By 2003, BIM, as the concept was now commonly referred, had come to represent the digital representation of the processes that go into the construction of a building.
The application of BIM is conducted throughout the life of a given project, from conception to completion. To best ensure the fulfillment of objectives, a BIM manager is often recruited to oversee the proceedings. The person who fills this role is retained by the work team, often for the benefit of the client, to track developments and measure performance levels between the design and execution phases.
Many companies that have employed the model have considered using BIM at other layers of organization, since the need for BIM can vary according to the complexity of the project at hand.
Collaboration in BIM Construction Networks
The parties involved in the design and construction of buildings are generally expected to fulfill deadlines despite limited resources, conflicting data and insufficient manpower. However, the consequential nature of the components that go into a new building — from structural engineering and architecture to plumbing and electrical details — is such that no conflicting elements can be allowed.
From the opening stage of a building project till its completion, BIM aids in the prevention of collisions by pinpointing discrepancies that may arise along the way. BIM makes it possible to foresee the physical construction of a design by means of virtual representation. The digital preview allows construction teams to examine the design for flaws and iron out imperfections.
Essentially, BIM makes it possible to perform the following adjustments before the first slab is poured in the construction of a building:
- Improve Safety: Construction teams can use the virtual model to examine the design of the proposed building wing by wing, floor by floor, room by room and inside and out. From the top of the building to the basement, any possible weaknesses in the design can be pinpointed and rectified before physical construction begins. As such, the organizations putting up time and money toward the project can make safer investments with BIM.
- Rectify Problems: The virtual model makes it possible for construction teams to identify architectural flaws that would make a building structurally unsafe. Alternately, the ability to examine the proposed project through digital representation helps designers point out flaws in the initial design that would otherwise make things needlessly complicated and structurally cumbersome.
- Simulate Impacts: With the digital model of the proposed building at hand, construction teams can examine the impact an earthquake could have on the structure, both externally and internally. By performing impact tests, teams can determine how to maximize the stability of a building should a natural disaster ever hit the proposed location.
Before the construction commences on a given project, sub-contractors from a range of interested parties can add their own insights into the proposed design. Insights can vary from party to party, but possible errors in design can be ironed out with greater success as more people review the building in digital form.
The digital model of a proposed building also makes it easy for a broader range of working groups to understand the design in advance and foresee its details with utmost accuracy. As such, construction groups can pre-assemble some of the building components off-site both before and during the on-site physical construction.
The construction foresight allowed by the digital model makes it possible for crews to minimize the buildup of on-site waste by having only the things they need, when they need them. Moreover, products can be delivered to the construction site when necessary, as opposed to being piled up on-site and exposed to the elements long before they’re needed.
Global Implementation of BIM
The adoption of Building Information Modelling extends far beyond the United States. Some of the more notable examples of foreign countries that use BIM include:
- Malaysia: The Construction Industry Development Board of Malaysia has implemented a plan to take BIM to a second stage by 2020 to boost productivity across applicable projects.
- United Arab Emirates: Noted for some of the most elaborate and innovative buildings in modern architecture, the United Arab Emirates has made use of BIM mandatory while expanding the scope of construction sizes and heights that qualify.
- Germany: In 2015, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt — inspired by the success of BIM in the UK and Netherlands — unveiled a game plan designed to establish the use of BIM principles throughout the railway sector by 2020.
- Holland: In 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment unveiled its own version of the concept known as the RGD BIMnorm.
- United Kingdom: In the summer of 2011, the UK government unveiled its own BIM strategy that called for all elements of collaboration — information, documents and data —and in 2016 implemented a BIM Level 2 mandate on public projects. Beyond the government, implementation has been forwarded in applicable industries by the UK BIM Alliance.
- New Zealand: The reconstruction of earthquake-ravaged portions of Christchurch commenced in 2015 with building designs assembled in virtual form, which construction teams have reviewed and fine-tuned to help make the newer buildings sturdier and more impact-resistant should future disasters hit the area.
Communication sustainability is the benchmark principle of the BIM concept. The principle extends far beyond the social aspects of how companies conduct business. Sustainability in communication entails a three-layer bottom line that accounts for how consumers, markets and the environment affect profitability over the long run.
In recent years, governments and consumers across Eurasia, Oceania, Africa and the Western Hemisphere have come to demand improved sustainability from local and global business entities. In numerous countries, the demand has ushered a wave of legislation designed to boost sustainability across the commercial, construction, industrial and government sectors.
As the issues gain more traction and widespread support, businesses are expected to see more pressure from politicians, citizens and the media to comply with updated standards of communication sustainability. As such, companies that have yet to openly implement BIM have executed policies designed to boost sustainability, both internally and among related parties.
Communication is integral to any kind of sustainability plan. Without communication, the changes needed to boost a company’s sustainability become impossible to implement. In the construction sector, a company can’t sustain itself without facilitating lines of communication between the various parties involved in the conception, design, investment and construction of a new building.
Businesses that fail to communicate their strategies with partnered entities and the public at large ultimately fail to connect on an economically viable level. Moreover, businesses that fall behind in the move toward communication sustainability are liable to miss out on crucial global contracts due to a failure to communicate how they implement measures to achieve sustainability.
As a principle, communication sustainability resonates with the rank and file of companies around the world because they’re members of the consumer public that’s affected by these issues. Therefore, company employment bodies are eager — as has been shown among entities already on board — to implement the policies that entail communication sustainability.
In the past, many brands regarded communication as an afterthought. Experts in today’s leading companies have compared that oversight to the staging of a stadium event where organizers fail to inform the public. The fact is, when so much exertion has gone into the process of bringing a business to life, there’s too much to lose by not having a way to communicate sustainability.
Organizational Structures for BIM in Construction
Regardless of the size, scope or budget for a proposed construction, it’s crucial for the organizations behind it to have the most advanced, state-of-the-art tools at their disposal for the entire length of the project at hand. With investments on the line, organizations must work within tight budgets and time constraints to ensure that projects are carried to fruition with no mistakes or setbacks.
Digital infrastructure in construction helps to ensure all parties involved, including building designers, investors and construction crews, achieve the best results with maximum efficiency and as little waste as possible. This, in turn, leads to a safer and more satisfying finished building for future tenants and customers.
When organizations use Building Information Modeling, they can foresee with greater accuracy the dimensions required for a proposed building design. Whereas a flat set of drawings can only indicate what a building will look like from one angle, a digital model allows construction teams to examine a virtual construction of the building both externally and internally. If mistakes exist in the original design, they can be corrected before the ground is broke and construction begins, thereby saving money.
With the digital model, construction teams can better determine whether a design is architecturally sound and spatially correct from side to side and top to bottom. As building designs become more elaborate and complex, and as cities compete for tourist dollars and publicity with taller and taller skyscrapers, it has become more important than ever to know in advance how a building will work in finished form, as opposed to only how it will look on paper.
The ability to virtually preview a proposed building is also critical in areas that have been hit by natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. In areas that are more prone to such disasters, it’s crucial for buildings to have the strength to withstand impact and keep people as safe as possible, with only minimal property loss at most. In ravaged towns that must rebuild from the ground up, digital modeling helps to ensure a more stable set of buildings for the future.
How BuildingPoint Southeast Can Help
BuildingPoint Southeast mends the gap between the design teams that conceive building ideas and the hands-on workers who bring those ideas to life. Armed with the most advanced tools for maximum productivity and precision for construction projects from start to finish, we help construction teams achieve their goals with utmost efficiency. Contact us today for more information on BIM.