The importance of BIM (Building Information Modeling) from planning to maintenance: find out what a BIM process is and explore its benefits.
If you are a professional, a company operating in the AEC sector or a technician employed in the public administration, you will certainly have heard about the BIM process. You will also have heard of the gradual process of becoming mandatory in the world of design.
In this article, we will discover together the meaning of BIM process and why every technician should start to know it.
What is a BIM Process?
BIM, acronym for Building Information Modeling, is the process of creating and managing the information of a construction work throughout its life cycle.
The digital computer model, obtained through the application of the BIM methodology, contains all the physical and functional characteristics of the construction.
The BIM process not only returns a visual representation of the building, but turns out to be a dynamic and multidisciplinary information container.
A BIM model can contain any information, the most commonly entered ones concern the below:
- geographical location;
- geometric and volumetric data;
- the properties of the materials and technical elements;
- the implementation phases;
- technical drawings;
The BIM process allows a digital representation of the entire life cycle of buildings and infrastructures (from planning to redevelopment) and facilitates the exchange of information.
The operating methods of a BIM process require each professional to carry out their part of the design discipline with their own BIM authoring software. Thanks to the BIM methodology, professionals are then able to exchange files via IFC format without losing any information. The final result is a single model that combines all the information of the various disciplines involved.
This collaborative BIM process management allows a seamless transfer of information, achieving enormous advantages in terms of control and management of an asset, throughout its entire life cycle.
The BIM process therefore represents a real breakthrough in the AEC sector and allows all the actors involved (architects, engineers, contractors) to work on a single model in a collaborative, fast and efficient way, with consequent savings in time and costs.
BIM as a process or as a software?
Although BIM software represents the operational basis for applying this design methodology, it should not be identified in a single tool but should be understood as a real process.
The BIM process allows you to manage a work from planning to maintenance. Designing according to the BIM methodology means producing a model that is not only a 3D representation, but a dynamic and multidisciplinary representation, useful throughout the entire life cycle of the work.
For this reason, within the BIM process, we do not stop at the third dimension but we talk about the 7 dimensions of BIM:
- 4D – time management;
- 5D – economic management;
- 6D – management and facility management;
- 7D – sustainability.
To really begin to understand how the BIM process “thinks” and how your approach to design might change, I recommend that you download and try BIM design software for free.
What are the steps of a BIM process?
The end result of the BIM process is a digital computer model that considers its entire life cycle, from planning to maintenance, up to demolition/requalification.
To obtain this three-dimensional model enriched with information, all the actors of the building process collaborate dynamically. Each professional is responsible for designing the part of his competence and then share the file with the other designers obtaining a single information model.
The BIM methodology allow the creation of a single digital model useful throughout the entire life cycle of the work.
The BIM process is divided into a series of phases.
It represents the first step towards the realization of the project and involves several decisions including the definition of BIM uses and the identification of the designers responsible for the various steps of the process. The model elaborated in this phase is presented to the client and possibly modified.
In this phase, not only the three-dimensional model is created, but also the other dimensions of the BIM come into play. A design phase that follows the criteria of the BIM methodology allows you to digitally build the artifact before it is even physically built, analyze sustainability (7D) and accurately predict the times (4D) and costs (5D) of implementation. This is the phase in which the BIM process becomes collaborative and multidisciplinary.
In order to clarify the role played by collaboration and interoperability in a BIM process, let’s have a look at an example.
The architect begins to design with a BIM authoring software and produces a three-dimensional architectural model with all the necessary information. At this point, sharing and interoperability come into play. The architect exports the IFC file and shares it with other professionals who can start to work on it.
The structural engineer, for example, imports the architectural model in the structural design software and proceeds with their design part. Once completed, the model is shared once again with the architect.
The architect will in turn update the architectural model by importing the structuralist’s data. The result will be a federated model (multidisciplinary digital model). The other disciplines, enriching the model with all the required information, follow the same rule. It is now necessary to use software to check the interference between the different IFC models. The result is a single digital model that will serve throughout the life cycle of the construction.
Applying the BIM methodology to the construction phase allows you to view the construction status and compare it with the expected evolution indicated in the initial project planning. This provides optimal control of the different elements of a project and allows you to detect any obstacles. This result in considerable time and cost savings. In fact, following the BIM process means reducing human error, detecting and correcting any interference before it reaches the execution phase.
The use of BIM allows you to manage the building during its entire life cycle and to link the information necessary for management and maintenance (6D) to the three-dimensional model.
What are the benefits of the BIM process?
The advantages of the BIM process are considerable:
- simplification of the design and of any changes;
- reduction of human error;
- time savings;
- cost savings;
- precise calculation of times and costs.
For this reason, if you have not already done so, I strongly recommend the implementation of BIM methodology and BIM processes by downloading the trial version of a BIM software for free to explore all the above-mentioned advantages!