What is BIM used for and which are the main roles involved in a BIM project? Let’s have a closer look at benefits, requirements and opportunities
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in industry-wide acceptance of BIM in construction projects but what is BIM used for and how does it help AEC professionals across industries improve the way they design, construct and operate buildings? Let’s take a look at what it means to work in BIM and why it’s really beneficial.
As a leader in BIM, ACCA software has made available a free integrated system of applications that allows users to start working in BIM straight away: usBIM, the integrated system to manage all the aspects of a BIM project.
What is BIM
BIM, which stands for Building Information Modeling, is a process – a methodology- for creating and managing information on a construction project throughout its lifecycle. The core element of the BIM methodology is the digital model of the building, which is a set of intelligent parametric objects that contain all the information needed during design, execution, maintenance and even dismantling phases. More than just a simple three-dimensional representation, with BIM it is possible to create a dynamic, multidisciplinary and shared information model: the digital twin of the project that contains data on geometry, materials, structure, thermal characteristics and energy performance, installations, costs, safety, maintenance, etc.
Whereas design through CAD is developed through 2D and 3D drawing, BIM design is not limited to visual information, but also offers the designer technical information about the object being shaped and enables advanced workflows capabilities that augment the design process.
The model is also at the center of communication and collaboration between the different figures involved in the BIM process: the architectural designer, the structural engineer, the plant engineer, the client, the company, etc. The actors from the various disciplines participate in a synergistic way to creating a model, adding information regarding the structure, the installation systems, the geometry, the properties of the materials and the technical elements, the phases of implementation, the maintenance operations, etc.
Practically, each discipline expert is responsible for implementing the relating design aspect with its own BIM authoring software.
All the information collected by the various disciplines are then inserted in a single model managed through the chosen BIM authoring software.
The objective is to build a digital model with all the characteristics of the physical one to be built (or already built) in order to solve, already during the preliminary phase, the possible issues, which otherwise would arise on site. The building can be analyzed in detail before its actual physical construction through its virtual twin, which is the core of the interdisciplinary exchange between all the actors involved in the project.
In short, time and resources are optimized and the final result is fully in line with the expectations.
What is BIM used for?
BIM is used to efficiently manage the design, maintenance and decommissioning of a project and to optimize all processes, encouraging the collaboration and coordination of all the figures and disciplines involved.
The advantages are not only evident during the design phase, as generally believed, but also during works execution.
The BIM approach seeks to improve collaboration between project team members, the quality of projects and the use of resources (time, costs, etc.).
In summary, compared to a traditional approach, BIM improves:
- collaboration between professionals
- interference control and error reduction
- costs, time and resources management
- outcomes visualization
- project competitiveness and quality
- effective maintenance
- optimal management of real estate assets.
Who uses BIM
One of the greatest benefits of BIM to the AECO industry is the collaboration it enables between designers, owners, and builders. The main actors involved in the process are:
- other technicians (geologists, etc.)
- entrepreneurs and contractors
Large companies (engineering firms, integrated design firms, etc.) were the first to approach the world of BIM.
Consequently, there was the belief that BIM is intended only for large companies dealing with big projects. However, in recent years, BIM is increasingly becoming part of the working routine of all professionals, because it brings clear advantages even when it comes to planning and designing medium and small projects.
In fact, small firms or individual professionals can benefit from using BIM to:
- reduce errors
- speed up project processing times (an estimated 20 to 50 percent less of the time taken by a traditional process)
- improve a project presentation with renderings, graphic tables, video presentations, use of virtual reality, etc
- simplify the management of project variants and changes
- accurately estimate the intervention time and cost (4D and 5D)
- integrate the different disciplines (architectural, structural, plant, energy, etc.) in a single 3D model
- verify interferences between the models
- dynamically update project drawings, documents and models
- create a shared database of information.
How is BIM used in construction?
We have already specified that BIM is not a software but a process to create a digital model intended as a building’s “information container”.
Some of the “tools” to work in a BIM process are:
- BIM authoring software for creating a 3D model (architectural, structural, MEP, etc.)
- BIM tools to aggregate data to the BIM model (BIM 4D, BIM 5D, BIM 6D, for construction time schedules, costs, energy performance, etc.)
- BIM coordination software and BIM collaboration software to connect multidisciplinary teams and optimize workflows;
- BIM management system to federate BIM models and data into a single collaborative cloud environment that allows architects, engineers, surveyors, builders, maintainers and owners to work together.
If you want to start working with BIM straight away, I suggest you to use the free trial of Edificius, the architectural BIM design software.
Click here to know more on BIM software solutions.
What does it mean to work with BIM technology?
Working in BIM particularly means taking into account a multidisciplinary process that is based on:
In order to properly and efficiently manage all the information and data involved in a BIM process, it is necessary to provide an organizational structure in which the roles and responsibilities of each actor in the process are well defined.
This implies the need for new professional figures with specific skills and responsibilities.
Among the experts of BIM we could mention:
- BIM Manager
- BIM Coordinator
- BIM Specialist
- CDE Manager
- BIM Lead
- Project Manager
- Design Team Leader
- Modeler II
- Modeler I
- BIM / VDC Manager (Virtual Design Construction).
Each one of them contributes to the process according to their know-how and skills on processes, technologies, standards and procedures.
In addition to the specialized figures, there are also the BIM Users, who are all those actors who become part of the BIM supply chain, without having a specific knowledge.
To learn more about the new BIM actors, click here.