The importance of implementing BIM on a construction site to optimize production processes and increase worker safety levels: the use case of Stella Maris Hospital in Pisa
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a process supported by various tools, technologies and contracts for managing information related to a construction project in an integrated and digital manner. A BIM construction site is an innovative approach that integrates BIM with the digitization of the construction site, leading to the creation of the digital construction site 4.0.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how to use BIM methodology supported by BIM-based software (specifically a BIM construction site management software) to optimize production processes and increase worker safety levels through the construction of a virtual prototype of a construction site that simulates its conditions, spatial organization and its dynamic progress over time.
How to coordinate a BIM construction site?
BIM site management involves planning all construction project activities in spatiotemporal terms and associating them with the 3D geometric model of the project.
The outcome is a comprehensive information model that systematizes information related to the entire life cycle of the construction: from design, to construction, maintenance and decommissioning.
Inaccurate site organization can adversely affect productivity and cause delays in project delivery, while also increasing the costs budget estimated during the design stage.
In order to better manage a construction site, BIM models can be used so as to simplify planning and logistics leading to optimal project management and implementation.
BIM and construction site organization
How BIM improves site organization
BIM offers advanced tools for site organization, enabling design, construction and management activities to be coordinated in an efficient and integrated manner. Some of the main benefits of BIM for site organization are:
- activities planning based on 3D models and project information;
- coordination of labour, equipment and materials;
- monitoring and control of activities in real time;
- management of project changes;
- collaboration among different project stakeholders through the use of cloud platforms and integrated applications that facilitate communication and information exchange by arranging online meeting and group chat.
To better manage activities coordination and monitoring of time, tasks and responsibilities of each actor involved in the construction process, you need to be supported by state-of-the-art construction management software. This tool helps you to easily and effectively manage any issues, contingencies or project variations by tracking their progress until they are resolved.
What are the benefits of implementing BIM for site management?
BIM site management offers many benefits over traditional methods. Think, for example, of:
- greater efficiency in planning and project execution;
- reduced rework, waste and costs;
- improved project quality;
- increased safety on the construction site;
- facilitated communication and collaboration among the various team members involved in the project.
Can BIM be used for construction site modeling?
Another key benefit of BIM for construction management is that advanced 3D modeling software allows the construction phase to be planned and simulated virtually. In fact, BIM can be used to model the construction site in 3D and 4D using specific BIM software and generate real virtual models useful for the study of safety, simulation of activities and worker training.
The construction site model is automatically integrated with the safety plans and enables you to:
- understand the evolution of the construction site as a result of the different planned works;
- verify the spatial-temporal overlaps of workings;
- highlight the risks generated by the contingent logistical and spatial situation;
- manage the different executive phases with 4D representation of the patterns and spatial interferences of the activities;
- produce working drawings (floor plans, cross-sections, elevation views and tables) that are always up-to-date and connected to the model (every time the model changes, documents and drawings are automatically updated);
- create real-time site renders and models to be browsed online and in immersive virtual reality to make virtual site tours;
- share the construction site model in the cloud in IFC format;
- simulate risk scenarios useful for worker training.
All these activities can be easily managed with an all-in-one BIM construction site management software to design, prevent risks, and dynamically integrate the BIM model to safety plans.
BIM and construction site layouts
How to create construction site layouts through 3D BIM models
By using 3D BIM models, it is possible to create accurate and detailed construction site layouts, which can optimize organization and prevent possible conflicts between various activities. The process of creating a construction site layout through 3D BIM models involves the following steps:
- creating the 3D BIM model of the entire project with a 3D Building Design Software;
- identifying work areas and storage areas;
- placing equipment and vehicles;
- planning circulation routes within the construction site;
- verification and validation of the construction site layout.
BIM and construction site safety
How to improve construction site safety with BIM
BIM can contribute significantly to construction site safety through its ability to provide detailed and up-to-date information about the project and site conditions.
Some of the main strategies for improving construction site safety through BIM include:
- identification and prevention of risks through the analysis of 3D models;
- planning of safety measures in the construction site layout
- education and training of personnel through simulations and virtual reality;
- monitoring and control of safety conditions in real time.
How to use BIM for construction site safety training
Virtual design and construction means building the project once digitally and working out the big problems, then building it more efficiently in the physical world. In the case of a digital construction site, the virtual scenario becomes the context and virtual reality becomes the best tool to develop the training of workers and prepare them for the knowledge and management of the construction site and the activities they will be performing.
A “learning by virtually doing” approach that allows workers to know about the risks on the site and how to manage them as well as having virtually performed the tasks that they will actually carry out.
Therefore, BIM can also be used for staff safety training through the use of 3D models, simulations and virtual reality, enabling you to:
- showing safety procedures clearly;
- simulate emergency and hazard scenarios;
- train personnel on the correct methods of intervention and behavior on the construction site;
- verify the effectiveness of the safety measures taken.
BIM and time management on the construction site
How to follow 4D BIM and all phases of execution on the construction site with BIM
4D BIM is the process that creates intelligent links between the 3D digital model (which defines the project geometry) and information about the execution time of the various activities required for construction. This provides a true simulation of the project construction phases, or its elements, as a function of time as well as space.
These models provide realistic views of the complete design and the entire sequencing process. In addition, the geometric model is associated with all the information useful for the works progress (laying diagrams, data sheets, assembly manuals, etc.).
In case of changes during construction, the BIM model is modifid and all views and drawings are automatically updated in real time. It is also possible to analyze the consequences on the timeline of activities, final delivery time, costs, etc. determined by the changes made.
The virtual model facilitates collaboration among key stakeholders who can clearly understand the phases, sequences, logistics and their impacts on the construction site. Any potential problems can be identified in advance and corrected before actual construction begins.
A 4D-Gantt environment allows you to:
- create a detailed time sequence of construction activities;
- simulate the evolution of the construction site by predicting interferences and overlaps;
- predict and prevent delays and conflicts between activities;
- monitor the progress of the project in real time;
- assess the impact of project changes on the execution schedule.
Example of a BIM construction site: New Stella Maris Hospital of Child and Adolescence Neuropsychiatry in Pisa, Italy
Integrated design supported by BIM-based methodology and tools poses an extremely important challenge to the site and safety designer that aims to optimize production processes and constantly increase worker safety levels.
All this thanks to the possibility of building, during the design phase, a virtual prototype of the construction site that simulates its conditions, spatial organization as well as its dynamic progression over time, operationally providing project and construction managers as well as Safety Coordinators with the possibility of sending and solving problems in advance, estimating construction times, assessing and reducing risks for workers, and preparing content and data necessary for subsequent monitoring of the construction site.