BIM: Why It Matters So Much

You might have heard the term BIM, either in our articles, in passing, in a conversation, or maybe you use BIM on your construction projects. In the last decade, a lot of changes have been on the horizon in the construction sector.

The digitalization of the industry, and constant update on new ways to get and use data on the market. The most popular has to be Building Information Modelling (BIM). Some of our readers are not yet BIM enabled, and not considering implementing BIM in their operations in the near future. I don’t think this article will change the way you do business, let’s be realistic, but I hope that it will make you consider planning to implement the technology.

Building Smarter

Building Information Modelling is, in essence, a methodology. It is a method of communication present throughout the building process, from the pre-construction phase, to the post-construction services. In its ideal form, it seeks to eliminate the need for Requests for Information (RFIs). It is not a software. There exists multiple software that are used within a BIM project. They can be specific to different tasks or coordination in the process. Different software will apply more to you. It can be a model. Mostly, it is represented under a 3D model of the construction plan. Ideally, all the information necessary for the construction project is to be found on the 3D representation. As you might expect, there are way more information compared to what you actually need to do your job, and that is where the complexity begins. The representation of the architectural plans in 3D has quite a lot going for it. In the pre-building phase, it is necessary for the contractors and sub-contractors to get together and proceed to a collision assessment. It is also possible to offer a virtual reality simulator of the project to your clients. Another advantage of being BIM enabled is the interactive and collaborative quality that it holds. When modifications are made by the architect or other participants in the project, they are automatically updated on all the users of the files.

The Stages of BIM Construction

As you might imagine, most of the work on a fully BIM enabled construction site happens before the shovel hits the ground. For the sake of this article, I have simplified and divided into four separate stages of the building process, but this remains a shallow approach to it. A lot more complexities goes into each of the categories.

Design

This is the first step of the process. The plans are designed either in 2D and transformed into 3D plans, or better yet, designed in 3D.

Analysis

Once the plans are concluded, each party involved in the project will have their BIM coordinators meet and run a Clash Coordination. The objective is to find as many issues as possible with the different plans to rework the problems before the construction phase. This might take some time, but it is important to take the time to do this process right. It will avoid you huge costs on the job site.

Construction

Once your plans are coordinated, it will be possible for the contractor or subcontractor to get the plans specific to their job. At the moment, BIM enabled plans are not extremely common on the site, and a lot of contractors still work with paper plans. It is fine, but if some modifications are made right after you printed your plans, you will not have access to it. Whereas workers that hold the plans digitally on a tablet or phone might have an incremental advantage.

Maintenance

Finally, once the building is done, BIM software can be used to manage the maintenance and the repairs for a building. Since everything is recorded and noted, it is easier to identify and keep track of various issues.

Why Does it Matter?

Why Should you care about BIM? Well, what we will see in the upcoming decade is a chasm appearing in the construction sector. In Canada, 99% of construction companies are SMEs meaning that they have under 500 employees; and small companies, those who have under 100 employees represent 98% of the construction sector. The reason why I’m pointing this out is that implementing BIM requires investment and capital. Most of the time, when business is going well, it is difficult to decide to completely change the way your business operates during a project. that is why, most of the contractors that are BIM enabled are large contractors. They can afford the switch and cover the costs in the short term. Smaller contractors might lack expertise or investment to make the switch.
What is at risk of happening is a gap between companies which use BIM and those who don’t. since this technology is quite complex, but allows contractors to save time and money, they will hold a powerful advantage in the bidding process.
The fact that it allows one to keep track of large amounts of data will refine the bidding process and minimize excess material and even knowing the exact productivity rate of your employees. The effect that it will have is, like most things, “for those who have, everything will be given; for those who have not, everything will be taken.” I’m not trying to scare you into buying new technology, but what I’m saying is to start now planning the implementation of BIM in your process. It is a lengthy task, and it cannot be done in one fell swoop, so you might as well get a head start and be part of the haves.
I hope that this article has helped you understand more how Building Information Modelling works, and why you should start moving in that direction. This is the first of a series on BIM where I will go more in dept on the subject. We are interested in your opinion, what has been the effect of BIM in your construction projects? Are you currently using this model? Should you implement it? Why or why not? Comment, or write us, it will be our pleasure to read your opinion.