Until now, the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industry has struggled with numerous issues. For example, collaboration management, miscommunication, faulty cost estimates, system clashes on site, and project delays, among many other issues. Thanks to the introduction of the revolutionary technology we use today to address the construction industry’s major challenges – BIM.
We will discuss the concept in-depth and how its multiple benefits have hailed it as a game-changer.
What is BIM in Construction?
BIM stands for Building Information Modeling.
In the construction industry, BIM is a 3D modeling process that creates digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a building.
Based on structured, multidisciplinary information, these virtual Building Information Models (BIMs) can be extracted, shared, or networked throughout the project lifecycle from planning and design to construction and operations.
The cloud-enabled BIM platform increases collaboration and communication between the main contractor, the design team, subcontractors, and the building owner. This leads to making informed decisions about a construction facility. Government agencies, municipalities, and property managers can also access this software data for the operation and management of a built asset.
BIM objects are the building blocks that make up a BIM model. They are intelligent, have a geometry that represents the facility’s physical characteristics, and store data.
Recent advancements in BIM have resulted in the introduction of 4D BIM, 5D BIM, and even 6D BIM solutions.
Adoption of BIM in the USA
The United States is considered the leader of BIM movement. Digitalization started in 1990s with the establishment of ‘building SMART’, formerly called the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI). In 2003, the General Services Administration (GSA) introduced its National 3D-4D-BIM Program, and later in 2007, USA mandated BIM for the use of private and public sector projects.
A recent survey from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) revealed that use of Building Information Modeling software among small architectural firms is up to 52 percent, while usage remains nearly universal among midsize and large firms.
How BIM is Revolutionizing the Construction Industry
As the global construction industry is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2023, BIM will revolutionize its functioning in the following ways:
1. Real-Time Project Visualization
The 3D modeling capabilities of BIM generate near photorealistic visualizations of a project which helps review its various design elements.
Contrary to 2D designs, BIM captures all drawings into one comprehensive 3D model. BIM empowers developers and clients to view the entire scope and outcome of their project much before construction. It also offers real-time views throughout the lifecycle of the project. Furthermore, the cloud-based rendering capabilities of BIM have increased the accessibility of visualizations, thereby speeding up the processing time from hours to minutes.
AEC professionals are able to create near-photorealistic visualizations and immersive walkthroughs that enable clients to explore a building design from every angle. By reviewing the 3D model from multiple viewpoints, the design team gains a better understanding of various design aspects of the building (from structural to electrical and plumbing) and detects errors at an early stage.
For example, you can click on floor plans to analyze the material type and make quick iterations to the BIM model, experiencing immediate effects of your decisions. This saves you money and time previously wasted on design rework. Additionally, with modern technology such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, you can actually walk around the design space. Autodesk Revit Live is an immersive visualization cloud service that turns BIM into immersive experiences on both desktop and VR.
2. Improved Collaboration and Coordination
The ‘single source of truth’ system of BIM streamlines communication between project participants.
Information in a BIM model is shared through a mutually accessible online space known as a Common Data Environment (CDE). The data collected is referred to as an ‘information model’. This model including all relevant information can be updated in real-time. All parties can view the latest changes such as timings, schedules, availability of materials, and design changes through digital applications and mobile devices. It helps to identify clashes and coordinate teamwork efficiently.
The integration of cloud technology with BIM software lets contractors construct the building as specified by the most updated plans and workflow. Through BIM communication systems, architects can foresee potential construction hazards and prevent them by altering the design. Likewise, contractors can lead their project teams safely and document the entire process in order to meet safety regulations on the job site and pass inspections.
Thus, Building Information Modeling improves collaboration among architects, clients, contractors, and other relevant parties involved in the project.
According to research by Dodge Data & Analytics, US contractors have reported these serious benefits from deploying BIM technology.
3. Efficient Planning and Scheduling
Advanced BIM software allows construction workflows to be planned and sequenced efficiently.
3D modeling software helps builders develop the optimum construction schedule for complex projects. This is possible by analyzing different sequences of tasks and detecting potential delays or clashes before work begins. Space-use simulations and 3D visualization techniques are also useful for calculating how long each construction activity will take, enabling project stakeholders to create a precise construction schedule. Hence, Building Information Modeling provides a perfect foundation for a LEAN construction process.
Effective planning at the beginning of the construction project reduces the need for subsequent changes which are not only costly but also time-consuming. BIM software also lets project stakeholders monitor and control the construction project in real-time. Eliminating setbacks early in the construction process, corrective modifications, and overall synchronized documentation allows companies to stay on schedule and within budget.
For example, developers can use a BIM model to schedule the installation of building components, such as MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) systems. The installation will be based on their criticality and the availability of resources. Contractors can visualize potential design clashes between different components, such as pipes, ducts, or electrical systems, and optimize construction sequence which will reduce rework.
4. Cost and Resource Control
The 5D level of BIM facilitates an automated cost evaluation of your project.
Cost analysis through 5D BIM tools like BIM 360 Docs and Autodesk Revit is one of the significant benefits of Building Information Modeling. Reliable construction cost estimates for materials, shipping prefabricated or modular pieces, and labor payrolls can be made well before construction begins. Such deep insights into project costs help contractors and project managers formulate ways to reduce costs.
BIM helps to implement cost and resource control in the following ways:
- Sourcing materials at their best possible price
- Selecting a more cost-effective material
- Streamlining the entire workflow of construction to minimize billable hours for the client
- Determining whether it’s cheaper to prefabricate or build on-site
- Withdrawing any unnecessary labor
- Reducing human errors that lead to costly repairs or project delays
5. Systematic Construction Management
BIM focuses on improving the construction processes which results in a higher quality built asset.
During the construction process, it is essential that architectural, structural, and MEP designs are well-coordinated, as two things can’t happen simultaneously. Since BIM technology offers a virtual representation of a facility prior to its physical construction, it is advantageous for clash detection, identifying accurate locations of discrepancies.
Subcontractors from various trades like electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc. can input critical information into the BIM model before construction. Structural engineers can inform about the opportunities to pre-fabricate or pre-assemble specific systems off-site as well as the number of prefabricated and modular units required for the building. Contractors can better plan site logistics including storage areas for machines, building materials, cranes, support structures, and temporary pathways with the help of BIM models.
Building Information Modeling contributes value throughout a facility’s life cycle. Hence, contractors, project managers, and construction managers are increasingly deploying BIM for systematic construction management.
6. Better Facility Management
BIM helps the facility managers and operators to make informed decisions as they are well aware of the existing condition of the building.
The BIM model usually maintains records of a building’s assets, such as mechanical and electrical systems, equipment, and materials. This detailed building information can be connected directly to the facility manager or operator for better asset management. Suppose, if a building owner may notice insufficient airflow causing lack of ventilation and discomfort to occupants. Rather than inspecting the physical building, the building owner can look up installation dates, maintenance schedules, manufacturer details, and warranty information by clicking on the HVAC ductwork in the BIM model.
Facility managers can incorporate dynamic information collected from building’s intelligent sensors and control signals within BIM software. This supports the analysis of building operation and maintenance. Additionally, BIM proves to be a critical factor in cutting down facility operational expenses in a multitude of ways:
- By continual identification of maintenance needs of building’s interior and exterior
- Optimization of energy consumption by replacing energy, utility, and safety systems
- Enhancing the utilization of building by updating its design and functionality
- Planning and scheduling maintenance activities that reduce downtime and costs
- Tracking asset performance to identify weak spots and improve them at an early stage, before resulting in costly repairs
Case Study: Apple Park, Cupertino, California
Apple Park is the world-renowned office headquarters for Apple, Inc. spread across 176 acres of nature-inspired land. The facility is famous for its innovative design, high-quality emphasis, and state-of-the-art resources. The main campus is a 2,800,000 square feet ring-shaped building.
The project delivery included the main building which consisted of steel for the base isolation level, the restaurant, nine different entries, the entire roof and edge plate for the entire building, as well as the fabrication and erection of the underground auditorium.
Challenge 1 – The installation of modularized pre-assembled roof panels, each weighing in at 80,000 lbs without damaging already installed critical materials or MEP equipment.
Solution – The hired construction company built cribbing for the roof to sit on while the beams were built. They tightened support braces to protect structural integrity. Building Information Modeling allowed the company to examine the structure and devise a strategic plan that would ensure the accuracy of the installation and timely completion.
Challenge 2 – Due to the absence of an RFI (Request For Information) environment, project drawings lacked details about the size and location of numerous penetrations.
Solution – The company worked backward by creating 2D drawings which the team then accurately dimensioned using advanced BIM software. The finalized models showed MEP engineers the precise locations of the penetrations.
In addition to these, the construction firm also detected some discrepancies in the grid system around the loading dock area which they resolved before affecting the site. Source
Professionals working in the construction industry constantly face challenges to deliver successful projects despite tight budgets and schedules, limited resources, and insufficient or conflicting information. Building Information Modeling is revolutionizing the way companies build. Different project teams are now working together regardless of their location. Large-scale projects are able to ensure job site safety, avoid delays, and run more smoothly. Relationships with clients and stakeholders are improved, and cost and time estimates are more accurate. By using BIM, all stakeholders can have a complete understanding of the building, leading to better decision-making and improved outcomes.
Is BIM a software?
BIM is a technology-driven process of developing 3D models using various other software.
What is the difference between BIM and CAD?
BIM is an integrated workflow that covers information about a project’s whole lifecycle, from conception to construction, and operation. Contrary to BIM, CAD is a Computer-Aided Design that mainly transforms paper-based drawings into digital file formats.
What is the best software for BIM?
Some of the popular software applications used for BIM are Autodesk Revit, BIM 360, Revizto, Trimble, MicroStation, SketchUp, and Graphisoft ArchiCAD.
If you want to inquire more about your construction project, contact Constructive Solutions, Inc. today!
Constructive Solutions, Inc. is a full-service commercial construction company serving San Francisco and Bay Area.
Whatever your vision, we have the resources, experience, and insight to make your concept a reality, and a space where your business can flourish.