Building Information Modelling (BIM) software is on the rise. Capable of generating and managing digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility, it is increasingly viewed as the future of construction.
The major advantage BIM holds over older systems like Computer-aided design (CAD) is its ability to produce not just graphics but information. This information aids in the automatic generation of drawings and reports, design analysis, schedule simulation and facilities management, and ultimately enables the construction team to make better-informed decisions throughout the lifespan of the facility.
The building information models it generates are important as a shared knowledge resource, which supports and aids decision-making about a facility right the way through its lifespan.
BIM is useful from the very early conceptual stages, right through the design and construction phases, and then over a facility’s operational life and including the eventual demolition when it is replaced completely.
Why is this so?
There are several reasons why the building industry is embracing BIM software; the first of which is that it reduces risk from a project.
BIM removes guesswork from the equation and enables greater predictability of a project’s outcomes. Projects can be properly visualized early on in the process, giving owners and operators a clear picture of intended designs and allowing them to modify the design where necessary to achieve the outcomes they want, before time and money is wasted on incorrect decisions.
Before a single brick is laid, BIM allows the project team to create an accurate representation of the project in a virtual environment. Within the software, they may rehearse complex procedures and plan procurement of materials, equipment and the necessary manpower appropriate to the job.
The software allows for accurate comparisons of design options and variations to be produced and analyzed quickly. This enables a team to make the correct decision about which direction they should take for the project, in terms of efficiency, sustainability and value for money.
The advanced nature of BIM modelling techniques aids greatly in this process, as the different solutions can be optimized for value against agreed parameters and targets.
Since all parties involved in the building project are using a single 3D model, easier and more focused collaboration is possible. This has the benefit of a more efficient and better value project.
Integrating design inputs across different disciplines using a single 3D model means that interface issues can be identified and dealt with in advance of construction. This is much more cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for redesign; saving both time and money. The model also enables new and existing assets to be seamlessly integrated.
Speed is a knock-on positive effect of this close collaboration. An enormous amount of time can be saved by agreeing on design concepts early in project development, as this will eliminate time-consuming and frustrating late-stage changes.
BIM also greatly reduces wastage of materials and equipment, as neither will be over-ordered. What’s more, precise program scheduling enables delivery of materials and equipment at just the right time, which reduces potential for damage and minimizes hire-costs.
BIM models also contain product information which aids commissioning, operation and maintenance activities. These may include start-up and shut-down sequences, interactive 3D diagrams giving visual instructions on the correct way to take apart and reassemble specific pieces of equipment, and specifications allowing replacement parts to be ordered where necessary.
A final advantage of BIM software is the potential that it provides for continuous improvement. Members of the project team can feed back information about the performance of equipment and operational processes. This gives a clear picture of any improvements that could be made on subsequent projects to ensure even better strategy and performance.