The dimensions of BIM: an intuitive overview to outline the heterogeneity of the information flows involved in a BIM-based design
BIM is now a reality: the building construction environment is exposed to new input and more information regarding the digitization and computerization of this sector.
If you are gradually switching from CAD solutions to new BIM technology, we recommend testing an AEC industry BIM software for free in order to understand more about the new tools that you can access to convert traditional construction drawings in a 2D to 3D BIM models transformation process to experience first hand how implementing BIM workflows truly boosts your business’ productivity.
BIM is not only about 3D modelling, but it also allows you to manage a series of information regarding materials, costs and time, which is why it is important to refer to the dimensions of BIM.
In fact, every time a specific type of information is specified into the model, a different dimension is set and, for this reason, various dimensions are generated. According to BIM fundamentals there are seven recognized “dimensions”:
- 3D modelling | geometrical, graphical information
- 4D time-related info| construction sequencing by means of Gantt charts and timelines
- 5D cost analysis | cost management, construction cost estimating, etc.
- 6D sustainability| environmental, economic and social sustainability impact studies
- 7D life cycle and maintenance | Facility Management: planning and management of maintenance operations throughout the building’s lifecycle.
In addition to the 7 dimensions mentioned above, there is now an open debate on three “new dimensions of BIM” including:
- 8D – safety during design and construction
- 9D – lean construction
- 10D – construction industrialisation.
3D BIM is just geometry modelling?
3D modelling is the first of the BIM dimensions that allows professionals to view the project digital model in three dimensions.
BIM is often thought of as just geometric modelling to increase the graphic detail of the design, but it is not just that.
The possibility of developing a digital model of the project makes it possible to bring forward to the design phase many verification analyses which, with traditional design methods, only took place in the executive phase.
The BIM model is enriched with new data and information from different disciplines.
Activity management need, known as “model checking”, can be expressed with two separate operations:
- code checking, the verification of the model adherence to the project and to standards requirements.
- clash detection, the preventive analysis of the possible geometric conflicts present in the model.
The advantages of using 3D BIM software for architects, engineers and surveyors are:
- more detailed and accurate visualisation of the entire project;
- better collaboration between multidisciplinary teams;
- reduction of errors, duplications, interferences, thanks to real-time updating of the model;
- optimisation of time and costs.
4D BIM: The time dimension to manage work schedules
4D BIM adds an extra dimension to a project describing task duration and timing in order to drive a 3D representation of how the building evolves in relation to the various construction phases.
Time management represents a fundamental aspect in construction planning.
Some of the traditional methods employed in this sector (such as Gantt and Pert charts) for the construction site or project time management have certain limits and critical issues:
- data loss from designer to the construction company.
- lack of communication between works management and suppliers.
- the effective presence and precise placement of materials on the construction site.
- the progress of works.
These are just some of the reasons that cause delays and inefficiencies, resulting in the need to revise what has been planned so far.
The continuous need to reduce, manage and re-organize project timing according to more dynamic and analytical evaluations can be satisfied when adopting certain new tools and methodologies.
The “WBS – Work Breakdown Structure”, for instance, as a data organization methodology, allows the site manager to subdivide the entire construction process into elementary time periods which are connected to the elementary parts of the model which are viewed as a logical progression of simulated construction phases (Project time schedule) for improved control and management.
With BIM project management software (4D BIM) the data is linked to the graphical representation of the components and it becomes easier for the project manager to consult and understand the project information, while taking advantage of numerous advantages, including:
- efficient coordination between architects, contractors and teams;
- early detection of conflicts;
- management of site status information and visualisation of the impact of changes throughout the project lifecycle.
5D BIM: quantity and cost estimate
5D BIM modelling consists in the measurements extraction from a project to define the material/s quantity necessary for cost estimation and analysis.
Thanks to specific 5D BIM software for Quantity Take Off, it is possible to create a direct link between the elements of the digital model, quantity calculation and cost estimating.
For quantity surveyors, the use of such technology has many advantages, including:
- provides greater accuracy and predictability in estimating project costs, changes in quantities, materials, equipment and labour
- provides methods for extracting and analysing costs and methods for evaluating different scenarios
- allows visualisation of activities progress and related costs over time (4D BIM)
- automatic counting of components associated with a project
- simplified cost analysis and budget analysis with expected and actual expenses over time.
Typically, the cost estimate updates in parallel with how the project design evolves, with the risk of data loss during the updating process (the probability is quite high!).
6D BIM: sustainability assessment
6D BIM is associated with energy efficiency and sustainable development of new or existing buildings.
The concept of sustainability can be examined from three different points of view:
- environmental, in terms of the ability to reproduce and maintain natural resources
- financial, in terms of the ability to generate income and employment
- social, as a generator of human well-being.
The analysis of energy performance right from the design phase provides the designer with the most suitable technical solutions to adopt in order to ensure lower energy consumption, higher quality and comfort, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of the project.
By using software for dynamic energy analysis and simulation (6D BIM), the engineer can benefit from numerous advantages such as:
- the possibility of quickly and accurately evaluating different solutions;
- detailed analysis of the impact of different solutions on financial and operational aspects during the entire project life cycle;
- more conscious and planned management of the flow of investment in the asset.
7D BIM: operations and facility management
7D BIM is the operational management and maintenance of the building and its components throughout its life cycle.
Maintenance and decommissioning or renovation aspects cannot be disregarded during a building’s lifecycle phases.
Specifically, 7D BIM software extracts and keeps track of all data related to components, specifications, maintenance and installation manuals, warranties, etc.
With this technology you can optimise the operational management of the building asset throughout its life cycle. In fact, with a BIM facility management tool, the facility manager can:
- easily and efficiently manage assets and replace and maintain parts
- facilitate audits and ensure efficiency, safety and compliance with building standards throughout the lifecycle of the building
- optimise resources and maintenance costs through continuous and up-to-date monitoring systems
8D BIM: safety on the construction site
8D BIM is the dimension that adds safety information to the geometric model, allowing to predict risks during the construction process and identifying activities to be implemented to improve safety at work and prevent accidents.
With 8D BIM it is possible to visualise the construction site before construction, enabling an effective analysis of all possible scenarios to prevent hazards and other issues.
The main advantages for the safety manager using a BIM software for construction site management (8D BIM) are:
- having a complete picture of site scenarios;
- drawing up detailed and up-to-date safety plans;
- identifying and accurately analysing the most appropriate safety design choices; and
- preventing risks by intervening on the design choices that may generate possible hazards;
- viewing the digital construction site in 3D;
- training workers through virtual reality;
- reducing the risk of accidents.
BIM 9D: lean construction
9D BIM, also known as lean construction, is the dimension of BIM that optimises and streamlines all the steps involved in the implementation of a project through processes digitisation.
Lean construction is an approach that enables efficient management of resources and involves monitoring the use of raw materials in order to minimise the incidence of waste. By constantly monitoring these resources, strategies can be created to effectively convert what would be waste, material fragments or odd pieces into something that adds value to the whole.
With a BIM management system it is also possible to efficiently manage the 9D BIM dimension, enabling the project manager to:
- make the best possible use of materials;
- keeping the construction project on schedule and within budget.
10D BIM: construction industrialisation
10D BIM aims to industrialise and make the construction sector more productive thanks to the integration of new technologies and physical, commercial, environmental or other type of data.
It is possible to achieve 10D BIM through the use of tools for the digitisation of civil construction such as the BIM management system, which makes it possible to align all those involved in the construction life cycle and optimise each phase.
The advantages of 10D BIM for the project manager are:
- reduction of construction time for building envelopes;
- optimisation of site costs;
- enhancement and implementation of occupational safety;
- increased construction quality thanks to next-generation digital infrastructure;
- accurate control at every stage of production of each individual element through advanced, codified and standardised processes;
- no dependence on weather conditions that may affect site activities.
Dimensions of the BIM in pdf