PLM BIM is an innovative approach that integrates the potential of Product Lifecycle Management into building design. Discover the role of PLM in BIM
In recent years, the dividing line between the construction sector (which has always been very fragmented) and the manufacturing sector (which is based on standardization) is becoming weaker and weaker allowing new scenarios of mediation, collaboration and mutual integration.
Needless to say that the technologies that support these sectors (Building Information Modeling on the one hand and Product Lifecycle Management on the other) seem destined to converge.
The objective of this article is to analyze the potential of possible integration between PLM and BIM, highlighting the similarities and differences that exist between these two systems.
What is the PLM?
Product Lifecycle Management, commonly known as PLM, is a strategic business process aimed at a more efficient management of the life cycle of a product, starting from concept, design and production phases, up to the subsequent sales, service and final disposal phases.
This process is based on the use of innovative technologies and information management software systems capable of integrating data, people and business processes into a single digital platform, with the aim of helping producers of services (and their partners) to:
- improve decision-making processes;
- streamline the entire supply chain;
- strengthen collaboration between the teams involved;
- reduce risks and management errors;
- share product information that is always up-to-date and reliable;
- save on production time and costs;
- provide the highest levels of quality and compliance.
Although PLM is mainly used in manufacturing industry, the aspects that this system shares with Building Information Modeling are evident, and offer the possibility of successfully integrating these two processes, creating the PLM BIM. Let’s find out what it is!
What is PLM BIM?
BIM PLM is an advanced design approach that involves the integration of PLM solutions and BIM systems to improve the productivity and efficiency of the AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) industry.
The technologies of Product Lifecycle Management and Building Information Modeling were born in totally different application contexts: the PLM initially focused on the production of cars, complex machinery, household appliances, high-tech products and consumer goods of any kind, while the BIM has always involved the design, construction and management of buildings and infrastructures.
Over the years, also thanks to a greater diffusion of prefabricated methods, the construction process has begun to resemble more and more the typical supply chain of a production process, and the boundary of separation between the manufacturing sector and the construction sector has considerably weakened.
Nowadays, we tend to consider the building a real “product”, and the BIM design process tends to follow the characteristic phases of the PLM cycle which are listed below:
- Concept & Design: this is the concept phase in which the requirements of the product/project are established;
- Development: this phase defines the design in detail, through the development of a prototype that helps to identify the necessary improvements;
- Production & Launch: it is the phase in which production/construction is carried out and completed, and distribution on the market takes place;
- Support & Service: is the use phase in which feedback is generated through specific support and maintenance channels which are essential to define any improvements;
- Retirement: it is the final phase of the life cycle in which the product is disposed of and withdrawn from the market.
As a matter of fact, a building is not a simple product, but rather a complex system consisting of a series of subsystems, elements and components interconnected. The main objective of the PLM BIM is therefore to create a centralized platform (also called Asset Information Hub) to manage the information and production cycles related to each individual component of the work.
The PLM BIM approach provides a collaborative environment that brings together all the elements necessary to secure the various phases of the project, and guarantees an integrated and essential management of processes, information, communications and resources.
Of course, the integration between PLM and BIM systems is supported by technological innovation, which allows to manage remarkable data volumes, and provide increasingly complex digital representations.
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PLM and BIM: what do they have in common?
Product Life Cycle Management and Building Information Modeling technologies have some common features that contribute to their mutual integration. To mention a few:
- data sharing: the PLM and BIM solutions are both based on the need to store, manage and share a large amount of data and information (for example, within a Common Data Environment), accessible to all operators involved, without legal or temporal constraints;
- project management: the development of these processes requires a preliminary organisation of workflows, to ensure better management of resources, and respect the project delivery times;
- Displaying the model: both the PLM and the BIM give the possibility to visualize and experiment virtually the objects before their actual production or construction, and identify in advance any errors or interference (for example, through specific Clash Detection and Model Checking procedures).
PLM and BIM: what are the differences?
Beyond the common features, there are important differences between the PLM and BIM sectors that may require modification or customization of some aspects in order to facilitate convergence. These differences affect, for example:
- the creation of a single model: unlike BIM, the design of a product involves different types of representation (both graphic and informative) that define, for example, its structure, functions, configurations, production methods, and so on;
- the compatibility of tools: PLM and BIM use different design and planning tools and software, which require a specific language and terminology, to the detriment of interoperability;
- the standardization of processes: while in the construction sector the BIM process is developed on the basis of specific project needs, the manufacturing sector offers the possibility of implementing standardized processes.
What are the potentials of the BIM PLM?
The integration of PLM solutions into BIM processes helps construction companies to:
- efficiently and effectively digitize workflows;
- facilitate collaboration with external team members;
- create a repository for all building information with a close connection between processes, organization, and production.
- minimize errors at advanced stages of the process, resulting in fewer rework and change orders;
- reduce project planning, design and completion costs;
- monitor requirements and respond more appropriately to customer needs;
- ensure construction safety, health and environmental compliance throughout the entire life cycle of the work.