Over the past decade, the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has increasingly become industry standard, as opposed to an advanced or elite technology. BIM’s growing popularity is rooted in its versatility. It can be used for projects both large and small, scaled to meet unique goals and objectives. It can focus specifically on design, or the information can be harnessed throughout the lifecycle of a project. Lifecycle modeling ultimately benefits the owner (feeding data into asset management systems), but also enhances efficiency during construction (via 4D schedule simulation, construction sequencing, work-packaging, as-built modeling) and during the design phases (advanced drawing/schedule generation, model review, clash detection). The key to the successful implementation of BIM is rooted in careful planning…know what you are BIM’ing and why you are BIM’ing it.
With that said, there is a strong myth that BIM = Revit, and that BIM is only for architects. The foundations of this come from the fact that architects gravitated to the concepts of BIM en-mass much earlier than their counterparts in the AEC industry. Further contributing to this perception, Autodesk capitalized on this movement by branding their Revit application as a BIM-enabled solution in support of the goals laid out by the architects – 3D modeling to support design review, visualization, drawing generation, and the creation of schedules harnessing the modeled data (specifically doors and rooms). As the implementation of BIM processes grew globally, so too did the capabilities of software and, in turn, the breadth of where the term “BIM” applies.
In fact, BIM has nothing to do with architects and most certainly does not equal Revit. The process of BIM – 3D modeled components with embedded metadata – was part of industrial plant pipe modeling applications dating back to the 1980s. BIM can be used by architects or engineers who are designing vertical buildings of any type (hospitality, healthcare, education, industrial, residential, etc.), advanced industrial plant projects, as well as linear civil infrastructure projects (roads, railway, sites,
buried utilities, etc.). As you can imagine, there are numerous software applications that can be harnessed to apply BIM to a project: Revit, AECOsim, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks, Digital Project, Civil 3D, InRoads, Geopak, OpenPlant, Plant 3D, SmartPlant, Aveva PDMS, to name a few.
A proper BIM solution analyzes the type of components that need to be modeled – building, civil, and/or plant; reviews the available software options from the various vendors, and selects those that optimize the output. Most projects will involve more than one software; even if the focus is only a traditional building. With the array of disciplines that can be involved in a project, and which are outlined above, there is no singular “BIM tool” that can accommodate all the required modeling needs for such a project. With people from a range of disciplines working together, or at least next to each other, a clear definition of the project’s BIM goals is essentials. It is also important to have someone who is designated as the project’s “BIM Leader”, and who will be accountable to ensure the goals are met. All of this is captured within a project BIM Execution Plan. There are standardized and widely used templates available in the United Kingdom and North America .
BIM is more than just Revit, and this needs to be continually communicated. Software cannot drive the BIM process but rather the BIM needs to be scoped, designed and applied to enhance an overall project solution. IBI Group is delivering a series of BIM sessions designed to educate practitioners on the possible benefits that can be gained through the application of BIM. You’re welcome to join the conversation and expand our understandings of how BIM can be used.