Any modern construction project is a highly collaborative event that utilizes the efforts of multiple different parties in order to produce a building or other structure. At this point, it is practically impossible to imagine a construction project performed without any collaborative efforts in it. And since the complexity of construction projects scales up drastically, it is also relatively easy to see why BIM is now seen as something practically groundbreaking.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a highly sophisticated process that spans all of the project realization phases and puts a lot of emphasis on collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders and project participants. BIM is often seen as a completely different approach to project management, capable of solving or at least mitigating plenty of issues that the industry has been struggling with for a long time.
An information-rich BIM model is the centerpiece of this strategy, it acts as both a centralized database for all project-related information and a single source of “truth” for all project participants to avoid misinformation and unnecessary conflicts. At the same time, a BIM model is not everything BIM itself has to offer – it also covers planning, project design, on-site construction process, regular maintenance, and many other topics.
BIM as an acronym has three different explanations, neither of which is completely false when it comes to BIM as a process:
- Building Information Modeling is the most common explanation out of the three, although it only refers to the process of creating a BIM model – an informative 3D model of the project with various information about the building as a whole and every single part of it separately
- Building Information Model refers to the BIM model itself – a centerpiece of BIM as a process and an idea, with every other element of BIM revolving around the model in question
- Building Information Management is the technically correct definition of BIM out of the three, it represents the usage of information-rich 3D BIM models in order to improve data exchange between different stakeholders to improve project efficiency and quality
There are plenty of differences between a BIM model and a regular 3D CAD model. The biggest difference is the fact that a CAD model works with various geometrical shapes – polygons, lines, curves, and so on. On the other hand, a BIM model operates with objects – parts of a 3D model that have both visual representation and a plethora of information about the object in question.
BIM as an approach to general workflow management is capable of producing drastic positive changes across the board, but implementing it is not exactly simple. As such, there has been a lot of effort towards standardization and unification for BIM as a whole. This particular process has been ongoing for a while now, but the progress can be seen on a regular basis to this day.
BIM can offer quite a lot of advantages to any project size, but it would also be fair to say that large enterprises benefit the most from the correct BIM implementation – since they get plenty of benefits from scheduling, cost tracking, clash detection, and other similar features. Here are some advantages of BIM that it can offer to the construction market as a whole:
- Accurate and up-to-date information about the current project status
- BIM data allows for accurate project-related evaluations to be made when necessary, offering multiple perspectives on the same project
- A centralized unified project model filled with data greatly improves overall mobility and efficiency due to its availability from practically any location, without any laptop or PC necessary
- Detecting clashes between objects and systems within a project is far easier when the information is as rich and convenient as in a standard BIM model
- These same circumstances are great for performing various simulations – energy requirements, weather conditions, and plenty of other ways to assess and visualize different situations
- The ability to share the same model can also improve general collaborative efforts between stakeholders by offering transparency and access to any relevant information for any stakeholder at all times
The reason why so many industry experts look up to BIM so much is neither complex nor hidden – the construction industry has been dealing with severe productivity issues for decades now, going as far back as the 1960s, if not earlier. This particular problem results in the same budget for a specific contract being performed in a significantly large number of hours, which results in less efficiency of the industry as a whole (and the industry itself is also less appealing to the proverbial “new blood”).
The fact that the industry itself is one of the most conservative industries on the planet is not helping matters, either – the only industry that is considered even more conservative is the agriculture industry. The problem in question is even more prevalent for bigger companies that have more resources – wasting them on conventional project delivery methods, heavy reliance on 2D CAD when it comes to design and modeling, etc.
The lack of proper 3D CAD usage, let alone BIM usage, creates a variety of different issues, from the inability to perform cost estimation and scheduling to the fact that even collaborating is difficult in this kind of environment – since every stakeholder has to create their own CAD model that would not be synchronized with the rest of the models, leading to various miscommunication issues and other problems.
Luckily, there are plenty of different BIM solutions that attempt to solve these issues for businesses and large enterprises, boosting the overall performance of a company across the board (when implemented correctly). It may not be easy to find a single BIM software program that suits a specific company the best, but the link above showcases several dozen examples of BIM solutions with detailed explanations of what they are capable of.