The value of building information modeling (BIM) in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry cannot be emphasized enough in today’s technology driven Internet connected world.
A workable definition of BIM is, “A model-based technology that can combine, among other things, the design, fabrication information, erection instructions, and project management logistics in one database, providing a platform for collaboration throughout the project’s design and construction phase.”
U.S. is at the forefront of BIM processes and technologies:
An industry study noted that North America is the most advanced continent in terms of adopting BIM in a big way followed by Oceania and Europe. It also noted that there is a strong correlation between the advance a country has made overall and the employment of BIM services. More significantly, the study noted that North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia are advancing rapidly toward the mature stage of BIM.
Adopting BIM can result in the more efficient use of resources; the benefits accruing to the stakeholders in embracing BIM are several, chief among them being
BIM provides all stakeholders involved in an AEC project not only the proficiency to visually coordinate building systems but also the skill to pinpoint conflicts among them.
Cloud computing platform based software coupled with the ability to update data in real time allow users to derive immense benefits, the more tangible among them being the saving in time besides the saving in costs.
Users of BIM technologies don’t waste their time in exchanging project information.
Building elements are represented as 3D objects along with relevant and accurate information
Consistent and faultless data is updated in real time on all views of the project if changes are made in any view
BIM models created at the start of a project ensure deep and perfect collaboration among all those involved in the construction leading to improved communication for enhanced productivity and better quality control
Cost estimation and quantity take-offs are prepared more easily, faster and almost error free
BIM helps to analyze thoroughly cooling and heating requirements, day-lighting choices, climatic issues, electrical line requirements and carbon emissions to arrive at optimum solutions
Short-term and Long-term Benefits of BIM
Adopting BIM results in short-term and long-term benefits. While short term benefits can immediately be felt, long term benefits accrue after sustained adoption by all stake holders.
Some of the significant short-term benefits are:
More reliable forecast of costs of construction
Fewer requests for information
High quality of project
Deeper collaboration among team members
Almost nil conflicts
The long-term benefits that accrue after sustained adoption are:
New business opportunities
Shorter project duration
Lesser construction costs
Lesser litigations and claims
Tangible Benefits of BIM Adoption
One of the latest study done by a leading Data & Analytics organization, among general contractors (GCs), construction managers (CMs) and trade contractors (TCs) with $50 million or more in annual construction value besides architects, engineers and contractors confirmed the findings of earlier studies that larger companies are more inclined to adopt BIM and reap benefits than smaller companies.
The study is quite revealing as to the status of BIM in the U.S. and the highlights are as follows:
50% of all contractors employed BIM in about 50% of their projects
While most GCs and CMs produce their own models TCs use models produced by others. However, when TCs develop their own models and use them they have acquired greater value from them
Structural fabricators, HVAC contractors and mechanical contractors tend to develop their own BIM models.
A very high percentage of GCs believe that substantial value to a project is added on account of trades using BIM models.
70 percent of those surveyed reported a decrease of at least 5 percent in requests for information during construction
50 percent of those surveyed reported at least 5 percent reduction in final construction costs, material waste and schedules
Lesser safety incidents were reported
BIM standards, design modeling and planning were reported as the prime drivers of BIM adoption
Most GCs opined that internal factors and market would drive BIM. However, CMs and TCs need some pushing from clients
Improving information flow is an important objective of adopting BIM processes and technologies. Lesser hard copies, lesser unforeseen issues and enhanced collaboration are some of the other benefits accruing due to better information flow
Issues to be tackled for the Future
Some key issues to be tackled for the future, have been revealed by leading journals and articles as:
BIM should be introduced gradually
In-house building modeling should be attempted first and shared within the company before collaborating with outside firms
BIM should be looked at as a cultural change rather than a technology change
Top-down approach would be more successful than bottom up approach
Team work and collaboration should be the mantra
Expectations should be grounded in reality