Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become somewhat of a buzzword in the construction industry, for good reasons. However, sometimes buzzwords distort the meaning and the technology’s application. This article is written to inform the reader exactly what BIM is and how it is changing the daily reality of construction management.
A quick Google search on BIM will return aspects of the technology like its potential market cap of 7,5 billion USD by 2027 adjusted for the recent pandemic. Alternatively, the search will return several opinion pieces as to why adopting the technology is important. Very few of the articles attempt to define exactly what BIM is. In providing a working definition for BIM, the technology can be defined as a tool where all invested parties and those tasked with building the project can develop a 3D model for the project. The model is capable of including architectural and engineering concerns. Further, the model can be used to include mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components so that MEP professionals can avoid constant clashes.
The skeptical will say that this is nothing new as 3D CAD software can already achieve this. BIM is different in the sense that it enables collaboration throughout the project’s lifespan involving all the various disciplines that need to come together to make a project reality. By including advanced clash detection, physics models, and cloud technology, the 3D model becomes more of a complete information model that all parties can access with ease. BIM can also include logistical information helping projects meet deadlines as well as cost models to help keep the project on budget.
Benefits to the Construction Industry
The above definition helps partly in answering what is bim in construction but it only presents half the picture. The other half is how the technology benefits the industry as a whole. Users of BIM have reported several benefits in adopting the technology. These include:
- Clash detection: This was alluded to above, but being able to include the information of multiple disciplines means that costly clashes and redesigns can be avoided even before construction begins.
- Accurate cost estimates: As the technology includes the ability to include and account for costs, better cost models can be developed at the project start.
- Time reduction: Much has been said about BIM’s ability to reduce costs. One way the technology does this is by reducing the time taken to complete projects, this is seen in how companies have improved construction sequencing to their benefit.
- Lowered risk: By collaborating with contractors, engineers and architects can develop more accurate models from the start allowing all involved to be on the same page.
While for many the adoption of BIM is voluntary, several countries are standardizing the technology and making it a requirement. The United Kingdom is one example, and the United Arab Emirates is in the process of adopting BIM standards, with Dubai having already adopted a standard set in 2013. Other countries are following the example and adoption of BIM may be a requirement sooner rather than later in your specific region.