What are Building Information Modeling, Building Information Model and Building Information Management
We often hear about BIM and have most likely seen various explanations of this acronym.
Yet, if it is possible to give a common meaning to the letters ‘B’ and ‘I’, referring respectively to civil constructions or infrastructures (Building) and to Information, the same does not apply for the letter ‘M’, which has different interpretations.
Giving a univocal definition of BIM is therefore difficult due to the fact that the acronym itself includes 3 complementary concepts relating to the digitised management of the built environment: Modeling, Model and Management.
In short, we can define Building Information Modeling as a process for creating and managing information on a construction project across the project lifecycle.
One of the fundamental results of this process is the Building Information Model, i.e. the digital description of all aspects of the construction.
This model is developed on the basis of information that is collaboratively integrated and updated during the main stages of the project (this is called Building Information Management).
This definition, given by the NBS, highlights the three fundamental concepts that characterise BIM:
- BIM is a process, i.e. a succession of activities to manage data and information contained within information models;
- BIM is a model, i.e. the container of data and information, which must be able to be read, enriched and modified throughout the life cycle of the work;
- BIM is collaboration, i.e. to ensure that information models are always up-to-date and usable, all operators must collaborate at appropriate times in the process and according to certain rules.
The transformation of meaning is not accidental: the shift from Model to Modeling implies that the method no longer applies to a finished product such as the digitised model, but involves modelling activities, i.e. it is a developing computerisation flow. The passage from Modeling to Management identifies that BIM is an information flow that must be established already at the time of planning building interventions.
The model therefore collects all the data that the process management identifies as requirements, organised according to the guidelines defined in the modelling processes and provided to the modellers.
Building Information Modeling
M for Modeling, i.e. the set of technologies and processes aimed at creating a model containing Information.
BIM as Building Information Modeling is therefore the digital building information system consisting of the 3D model integrated with the building physical, performance and functional data.
It is a methodology that allows architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals to generate a digital model containing information on the entire life cycle of the work, from design to construction and up to its demolition and dismissal.
Building Information Model
M for Model implies information visualization, i.e. something digitally concrete and deliverable. In other words, Building Information Model means the digital description of all aspects of the construction work.
It is an intelligent evolution of the 3D model, a sort of virtual computerised vector prototype through which it is possible to simulate, even before starting construction, what the project will be like when it is built and during maintenance.
Building Information Management
As mentioned, in the BIM approach the three-dimensional model of the work contains not only all the data relating to the building geometric characteristics and the material and structural components that are part of it, but also those relating to the resources necessary for its construction.
We could therefore speak, instead of model, of construction database, which is the absolute reference also for all the activities following the design phase.
Therefore, M for Management is integrated management of the construction process. In practice, it regards the management of Information during the whole life cycle of the Building / of the built environment.
The ‘mission’ of Building Information Management is to oversee the definition and organisation of the collaborative data exchange process of the structure, including the implementation and administration of the digital exchange platform, which is essential for the implementation of a BIM project.
Depending on the development of the BIM process that it intends to implement, the company or professional chooses the BIM software best suited to its needs. The choice may also be influenced by other factors such as: the diffusion in the relevant market, compatibility with other software already in place, the ease of use of the software and also the capability of finding collaborators trained on the software.
There are many software products on the market today that are designed for Building Information Modeling activities. buildingSmart International (bSI) divides these software applications into two types:
- software that create a BIM model and export it in IFC format and are known as BIM authoring software, i.e. applications that create and modify a BIM model;
- software that perform calculations and verifications and enrich BIM models with information and data: so-called BIM Tools software.
There is also software, specifically BIM coordination software or BIM Management software, that allow the correct management of the BIM process during the entire construction life cycle.
Given the amount of data to be processed, the choice of software is not trivial and must be made in relation to the BIM objectives to be achieved.
Moreover, when choosing a software to purchase, it is important to also verify that it is certified by buildingSmart International as being compliant with the latest version of IFC format.