Building Information Modelling is like Teenage Sex
Building Information Modelling or BIM is like teenage sex - and big data: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it... and even fewer do it right.
So, what is BIM?
First, BIM stands for several related but slightly different concepts: Building Information Management (the overall process), Building Information Modelling (the modelling process) or Building Information Model (the 3D digital image of the building).
According to Wikipedia, BIM is "a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places."
To be more specific, one can say that at the core of the BIM there is the 3D modelof the building. This model is more than just geometry and textures cast over it for visualization. The BIM 3D model consists of the virtual equivalents of the actual building parts and pieces used to build a building.
These parts have all the characteristics of their real counterparts. These intelligent elements are the digital prototype of the physical building elements such as walls, columns, windows, doors, ducts... that allow to simulate the building and then understand its behaviour in a computer environment long before the actual construction starts.
The BIM process doesn't limit itself to a 3D digital visualisation of the building. Indeed, it adds new dimensions to a building project:
Time (4D, scheduling)
Cost (5D, budgeting)
Lifecycle management (6D, facility management).
The BIM process possesses its own language to link its Level of Details (LOD) phases to the regular building life cycle process. Autodesk's sustainability workshop website provides a good summary of the building project phases and levels of development.
This new building methodology and the new tools it requires also mean that the BIM has a substantial impact on the organization and the skills required to lead and execute building design projects. For instance, data management, collaborative work, and stakeholders coordination are key to the success of a BIM project.
Finally, the BIM can somehow be compared with the design processes, tools and organizations that the automotive and aerospace industries have been using for decades.
In conclusion, the benefits of the BIM and the cost savings it generates has triggered its deployment across several major markets: the US, the UK, a growing number of countries in the European Union, Singapore, the UAE... The BIM (r)evolution is underway and, apparently nothing will stop it any time soon.
In a future article, I will address the benefits of the BIM in more details - stay tuned!
Further readings on BIM
Here are some insightful reports and articles on BIM:
Building Information Modelling – Belgian Guide for the construction Industry, ADEB-VBA, October 2015
The Business Value of BIM for Construction in Major Global Markets, McGraw Hill Construction, 2014
A brief history of BIM, Vanessa Quirk, December 2012
Building before Building: the BIM generation, Bouygues Construction
Have you led or participated to BIM projects before? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as I hope you do from me.