Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems are a crucial element of any modern construction project.
Through cloud-based BIM software, project teams are enabled to design and build a construction project collaboratively using one coherent system of virtual models rather than each entity utilising separate sets of drawings that could result in otherwise avoidable and costly errors.
At the technical core of BIM is software that enables 3D modelling and information management.
Extensive use of this software leads to a more complete understanding of the project, and more granular planning in the early stages for a more successful end result.
The paper-based system is ill-suited to the collation of vast amounts of modelling data for projects. The submission of separate information from clients, architects, engineers, suppliers and subcontractors can be prohibitively complex, time-consuming and costly.
Architecture, design and engineering teams attempt to put every detail into the drawings. Key documents could be submitted according to separate schedules and scattered across several locations. Inevitably some items are omitted, or other errors or changes are made, meaning physical documents or models require revisions as the project develops.
At that point, changes can be a direct risk to the cost and timing of the project.
Collaboration is also much harder as drawings, documents and models have to be accessed physically through the project, while there is the danger of out-dated versions remaining in the workflow.
BIM software works using data input by designers, architects, engineers, consultants and contractors. Using all this information, it creates a virtual version of a project. Sub-contractors from all trades can provide data relating to their part of the job to increase the accuracy of the modelling.
Using BIM really facilitates collaboration between stakeholders, as, for example, the architect and contractors will be working with a single shared model rather than separate ones. Changes and updates can take place easily with no confusion as there is one source of truth.
BIM also affords stakeholders the opportunity to view the entire project as a complete 3D model. “You’re not looking at something just in text and on a 2D view. You can actually go in and view it across an entire building in a 3D model,” says Zutec project manager Gemma Hawes.
By utilising BIM through cloud-based programmes, co-ordination and agreements between all stakeholders are able to be finalised before any ground is broken.
The importance of using BIM software on a project is evident through the amount of efficiencies it can bring. It prevents problems by ‘clash detection’ – it highlights possible problems in the design or functionality of the virtual construction, allowing solutions to be found before the problems have a chance to materialise in bricks and mortar.
For example, perhaps a HVAC duct is designed properly but its location is not, and if built to plan, it runs through a foundation wall. Finding these errors is vital, as they would severely impact the construction process, causing delays, design changes, materials costs and a slew of other problems and ultimately, budget overruns.
BIM facilitates milestone planning and successful sequential planning of the project, meaning just-in-time delivery of materials can be employed, or offsite pre-fabrication. It allows different sections of the job to be planned in granular detail – for example, it helps to calculate the exact quantities of building materials to be used.
And it means anyone with the authority can digitally access this modelling for reference at any phase of the job, from where ever they are, on or off-site.
Overall, with BIM integrated in the project from the very beginning, the many efficiencies and benefits will run through to final handover and a more successful completion.