Everything you need to know about BIM maturity levels: the challenges of BIM Level 3, its definition and the requirements to be fully compliant
Until recently, it has been a common practice to define BIM maturity through four distinct levels, although they are often confused with other very different aspects of the BIM process such as BIM levels of detail (LOD) or BIM dimensions (3D, 4D, 5D, etc.).
In some of our past articles, we have already covered the fundamentals of the various levels of BIM maturity, but today we’ll be focusing more on BIM level 3 and and how AEC professionals can benefit from it’s adoption.
If you’re interested in BIM and collaborative working, I suggest you try usBIM, the free and fully online platform for working according to the requirements of BIM digital maturity level 3.
Assessing the maturity of BIM adoption on a project or within your organization can provide insight to ways to improve processes and better take advantage of the benefits of BIM.
Let’s have a look at the various levels of BIM maturity and how they are used in the construction process, before seeing in details what BIM Level 3 is all about.
The current BIM maturity models try to assess BIM capabilities level of businesses and define the maturity of the BIM method within the project.
According to PAS 1192, the levels range from 0, setting out the progression from CAD ultimately to Level 3 BIM, which entails full project integration (with the use of collaboration platforms, BIM software, etc.).
Therefore, PAS 1192 (literally Publicly Available Specification, the reference code of practice) identifies 4 levels of BIM maturity:
- level 0 – low collaboration – includes ordinary CAD drawings. The exchange of information between the team remains on paper or, at best, via electronic media. It is organised according to a traditional organisation of work ;
- level 1 – partial collaboration – suggests the presence of basic information and the use a parametric design method within a workflow but no proper interaction between different specialists. You work with 2 or 3 dimensions and exchanges of information happen in a digital format;
- level 2 – full collaboration – this stage is distinguished by collaboration between parties and you work with 3 dimensions on separate models representing the various parts of a project. The data can be then “assembled” in a single federated model using a common file format;
- level 3 – full integration – this stage integrates the work of all project participants simultaneously working on the same shared model. It implies the integration of all project data and all stages of the process, continuous and instantaneous communication and sharing/receiving updates in real time.
Currently, PAS 1192 has been withdrawn and superseded by ISO 19650, which introduces 3 levels of BIM maturity:
- stage 1 – 2D CAD drawings and information models, meeting national standard requirements, are combined for project management;
- stage 2 – disciplinary, federated information models, meeting international ISO 19650 standards, provide integrated project management;
- stage 3 – structured database systems of information models, which can be queried immediately, allow openBIM to be imposed as the management system for the project and its subsequent commissioning.
To learn more, you can also read this in-depth article: “BIM maturity levels: from stage 0 to stage 3“.
What is BIM Level 3?
BIM level 3 represents the last level of BIM maturity providing complete integration of tools while taking information sharing a step further.
At this level, the information model is filled with real-time data that can be used not only in the design and construction stages, but also at a more operational stage, covering the entire lifecycle of a built asset.
BIM Level 3 enables all participants to work on the same model simultaneously which drastically reduces the risk of information conflicts. The building process is fully interconnected from design to construction management, allowing material waste and delivery times to be minimised, while maintaining (or even increasing) the quality of the final result.
The development of the entire process is based on the complete (or almost complete) standardisation of the different phases and contents. In fact, the concept of “Open data” and, specifically, Open BIM is fundamental here. This feature leads to maximum interoperability between all the disciplines involved in the different phases as the constraint dictated by proprietary files is absent.
Another key requirement to deliver BIM Level 3 projects is the use of the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) an open and non-proprietary file format (therefore not controlled by a single vendor). The idea is that IFC models can be easily exchanged between different software without having compatibility issues. This aims to resolve the current challenges when exchanging data between stakeholders.
To be fully compliant with BIM level 3, a cloud-based model management is required. This fully IFC-certified online collaboration platform supports openBIM workflows by allowing seamless data sharing and visualisation with real-time change updates. A CDE (Common Data Environment), incorporates these functionalities providing widespread usage to all project stakeholders using any device and above all from anywhere to manage projects and promote collaboration between users.
As mentioned earlier, BIM level 3 refers to the entire building lifecycle, from design to demolition. Consequently, interoperability and full management must be ensured at all stages through a single BIM model accessible to all project members. This methodology helps prevent errors, optimizes project costs and accelerates the entire construction process.