A revolution in the construction industry powered by Building Information Modelling

January 25, 2018

Theoretical developments in Building Information Modelling (BIM) suggest that not only is it useful for geometric modelling of a building’s performance but also that it can assist in the management of construction projects. BIM is not a single piece of software or model, but a new form of information processing and collaboration, with data embedded within the model. Each discipline or organisation creates its own model, and these are subsequently amalgamated to provide a combined view of the entire project. Data is added directly to the model, dictating materials, functions, size and associated information. As documentation remains part of the information set, data can be linked to the elements of the model that it pertains to.

The successful implementation of BIM requires two roles to be assigned for the purposes of project management:

  • Information manager: responsible for instituting BIM throughout the project and ensuring that all people involved are following the established protocols.
  • BIM model manager: ensures all the participants’ models are coherently shared and co-ordinated across the project.

A building information model can be used for the following purposes:

  • Visualization 3D renderings can be easily generated in-house with little additional effort.
  • Fabrication/shop drawings: it is easy to generate shop drawings for various building systems, for example, the sheet metal ductwork shop drawing can be quickly produced once the model is complete.
  • Code reviews: fire departments and other officials may use these models for their review of building projects.
  • Forensic analysis: a building information model can easily be adapted to graphically illustrate potential failures, leaks, evacuation plans, etc.
  • Facilities management: facilities management departments can use BIM for renovations, space planning, and maintenance operations. Cost estimating: BIM software(s) have built-in cost estimating features. Material quantities are automatically extracted and changed when any changes are made in the model.
  • Construction sequencing: a building information model can be effectively used to create material ordering, fabrication, and delivery schedules for all building components.
  • Conflict, interference and collision detection: because BIM models are created, to scale, in 3D space, all major systems can be visually checked for interferences. This process can verify that piping does not intersect with steel beams, ducts or walls.

BIM Benefits T

he key benefit of BIM is its accurate geometrical representation of the parts of a building in an integrated data environment (CRC Construction Innovation, 2007). Other related benefits are:

  • Faster and more effective processes – information is more easily shared, can be value-added and reused.
  • Better design – building proposals can be rigorously analyzed, simulations can be performed quickly and performance benchmarked, enabling improved and innovative solutions.
  •  Controlled whole-life costs and environmental data – environmental performance is more predictable, lifecycle costs are better understood.
  • Better production quality – documentation output is flexible and exploits automation.
  • Automated assembly – digital product data can be exploited in downstream processes and be used for manufacturing/assembling of structural systems.
  • Better customer service – proposals are better understood through accurate visualization.
  • Lifecycle data – requirements, design, construction and operational information can be used in facilities management.

BIM Around the World

In the United States, BIM is often associated with Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), with a primary motivation to bring project teams together early on. The Canada BIM Council was established in 2008 to standardize the use of models in architecture, engineering, and construction. Public and private governing bodies in Europe have been pushing for more integrated adoption of BIM standards to improve software capabilities and cooperation in the industry. Throughout the world, studies are being conducted about how to improve network users’ authentication choices, geographic mapping systems, and cloud computing security.

In South Africa,  BIM Institute and BIM Academy Africa serve as Africa’s BIM voice in developing standards and education for the built environment. The Institutewhose objective is to improve the construction quality and productivity of the built environment through leadership of information and education. It is impartial and remains software agnostic while supporting and helping to deliver the standards and requirements for Building Information Modelling/Management (BIM) in Africa.

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