The concept of collaborative working is becoming increasingly popular: that’s why it is essential that all the stakeholders involved in the project know what BIM maturity levels are.
The BIM technology is a collaborative method of working based on the generation and exchange of data and information among the stakeholders involved in the project. Thanks to this information it is possible to manage the entire life cycle of a building, from the idea and design to its completion. In this sense, BIM is an indispensable part of the decision-maker process.
There are different levels of shared collaboration in a project, that are known as BIM maturity levels.
At the moment there are 4 BIM maturity levels:
BIM level 0 (low collaboration)
It is the easiest step of the information generation process, there is practically no level of cooperation.
At this stage, the production and sharing of the information take place with non-interoperable, paper-based documents: CAD drawings are used, but the information of the model is not shared.
Nowadays, the majority of technicians is at this stage: although they use BIM oriented software, they exchange paper-based information that cannot communicate between one another.
BIM level 1 (partial collaboration)
Many studios and companies are adapting their work at this stage. A Common Data Environment (CDE) is used in this case.
A CDE is an online shared repository where all the data of the project are collected and managed.
In other words, BIM level 1 focuses on the transition from CAD information to 2D and 3D one. Despite the presence of a common data environment, the generated models are not distributed among the different stakeholders.
This level is about information management through a standardization of the model among team members.
BIM level 2 (full collaboration)
This level focuses on how the information is shared among the various members of the project.
At this stage, two new dimensions of the project are introduced: the 4D, time management and the 5D, calculation of the budget. International standard PAS 1192, regulates the steps to reach the BIM level 2.
Although the collaborative working is at the center of the BIM level 2, it is not necessary that all the team members operate on the same CAD 3D models. In fact, every member can use a distinct CAD model in a common file type (an IFC file for instance, used to exchange BIM data) that contains all the designing information.
In this way, all the stakeholders involved in the project have an overview of all the available information and can modify it accordingly. This allows the full collaboration among the numerous parts of the project and the creation of a unified BIM model.
To reach this goal the CAD software, that every member uses, should export in common file types such as IFC file, COBie file etc.
To sum up, at this stage all the members of the team work in a coordinated way to obtain a federate model that maintains the specific characteristics of every discipline of designing.
BIM level 3 (full integration)
BIM level 3 is the final goal for the construction sector.
The main purpose of this level is to obtain a full integration of information in a cloud-based environment. This is possible using a common shared model that will be available to all the stakeholders of the project who can add or modify their own information.
This model in IFC format, is the mile stone that can be shared and preserved in a cloud, so that all the agents can have access to the same information. The project team verifies in real time the effects of the single action on the model.
In this way the entire life cycle of a building, from its designing to its construction and maintenance can be managed.
This is a future implementation but the majority of AEC markets all over the world keep focusing on support, formation and education to obtain BIM maturity level 2 capacities.
BIM maturity levels and dimensions
BIM maturity levels are different from the various dimensions. In addition to the information of 3D there are 4 more dimensions: 4D related to time or project schedule, 5D cost data, 6D structure management, 7D sustainability. The most important thing is that these are dimensions and not levels.
All these elements can be found in a BIM level 2 or level 3 model.
Future advantages of BIM
BIM level 3 brings important advantages for the construction sector. Here are some of them:
- Increased productivity. Sharing information in an easy and fast way allows a substantial increase of productivity. The collaborative working reduces the time to add and modify new information. Greater productivity means lower costs and greater efficiency in terms of project planification.
- Big Data. BIM technology offers a help in managing an enormous quantity of data. A more efficiently management of Big Data will change the way in which a lot of professionals work in the construction sector.
- New possibilities in smaller markets. BIM technology can optimize the construction process. This element allows the opening and development of new markets that till now did not have the right tools to expand. Thanks to a full or a partial integrated collaborative model, they will be able to deal with the difficulties that they encounter at the moment.
- Buildings of higher quality. The ability to manage more precisely a bigger quantity of data allows an outstanding improvement of the quality of buildings. In other words, in the future more complex buildings that have much more to offer to their residents will be designed and built. The environment and modernization of the designed structures can be easily taken in consideration during the construction process.
- Improved clash detection. Thanks to BIM, the clash detection process is improved drastically. Clash refers to potential errors that emerge during the designing and construction of a building. This process can be managed through BIM technology and IFC files to increase project efficiency.
BIM technology introduces the concept of interoperability in the construction sector.