Don’t forget what you can do with BIM data

Although many construction companies use BIM to ensure efficient building design, planning, and construction, it can be difficult to ensure that you are getting the most out of BIM. BIM is obviously an intelligent process based on 3D models, but it also serves other purposes. Over time, additional functionality has been added to create options such as comprehensive project management.

At the most basic level, BIM enables you to develop digital workflows by using consistent data. This supports project programming, project coordination and construction – and leads to a service when the project is handed over.

Some construction companies simply use BIM to coordinate model data from different authoring tools or platforms. In other cases – especially in large companies that make large investments in technology and productivity – BIM is used to replace all project drawings and to support work on the construction site with mobile devices.

However, for most contractors, BIM usage is likely somewhere between these two scenarios. Even if large contractors have specific BIM protocols that they must follow in order to meet project requirements, in certain situations they may deviate from these protocols and expect 2D drawings as results (even if they are expected to do a specific one BIM level in the project at hand over).

Because they are used to working with BIM, it is also not uncommon for contractors to overlook or forget the wide range of possibilities that BIM offers. Open, cloud-based BIM solutions offer a world of connectivity that was not previously available to construction companies. This world tends to be overcrowded with BIM databases, or CDEs (Common Data Environments), which can be overwhelming.

Contractors too often have very specific requirements that change from project to project. Sometimes all you need is easy management of 2D drawings from authoring tools. Since it is used so often in such situations, it’s easy to forget that you can also rely on BIM for collision detection, logistical requirements and / or project planning.

Data organization and presentation are the key to the success of BIM. It is important to take the time to understand how different data hubs are connected – as well as making sure that you are not relying on processes that are using closed BIM Solutions just because it seems faster or easier. While it can make things easier in the short term, it can create obstacles in the long run.

How can you get the most out of BIM? By following these tips:

  • When using BIM for coordination, it is important to set up workflows to notify project members of activities, changes, issues, due dates, etc.

  • If your goal is to use a BIM model for scheduling and project programming, you should have access to the necessary data. Managing model components within the BIM environment is critical; The site-based model is likely to be built from various authoring tools that lack consistency.

  • The visibility and accessibility of data are also critical. Strive to make BIM models the only source of truth; a deviation should be discouraged.

A connected BIM approach is the most beneficial result of different systems used in a project. Operations performed in one domain should affect managed changes in another. If the BIM implementation in a project doesn’t break the traditional data silos we’ve seen all too often in the past, the implementation has to change.

If your BIM approach is well thought out, the data provided should deliver many project improvements, including:

  • A more accurate digital representation of physical assets.

  • A rich source of data that makes project handover easier.

  • Audit trail development.

  • Complete project transparency.

  • Increased communication.

We are consistently impressed by how contractors around the world are adopting BIM and integrating it into their workflows. A current train station project in Switzerland, for example, introduced BIM from start to finish – from model creation to on-site construction – and everything was delivered on a digital platform.

Since the station had to be in operation throughout the project, the team used the BIM model to integrate all of the planners for every aspect of the development and renovation so everyone was up to date and on the same page.

A contractor in the Netherlands used BIM to minimize errors and reduce the possibility of rework, especially in a global team. Because BIM enabled remote work with live streaming of processes, no one had to wait to get critical information.

The days of manually merging information should be a thing of the past in BIM projects. Having all project data and information in one place enables all disciplines to contribute to discussions and confidently coordinate relevant areas.

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