Lost in a swamp of BIM jargon? Don't worry, we've created a definitive list to put your mind at ease.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the process of designing, constructing and operating project using digital models which carry data about the real-world objects. This method allows for potential issues to be spotted before the construction process has started, resulting in a more cost effective and productive process.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is vital to the design and construction sector. BIM brings together the information and key components of a building in one place. From a project’s inception through to its completion, BIM creates value through a collective process.
In today’s digital construction landscape, companies want to gain total control of a project while maximising their return on investment.
While 3D modelling and CAD design is an element of any BIM initiative, the real value lies in standardising unstructured information flows and streamlined processes.
BIM is more than just a process; it adds value and helps prevent paying for unnecessary costs. By using this technology, traditional miscommunication and information loss between different stages of a project are reduced because all information and components can be found in the same place. Collaboration is key when designing a project, BIM allows team members to work together efficiently even if they are miles apart.
Construction and design companies are frequently looking for ways to make their projects more practical. BIM ensures that projects are lean by reducing wastage and reducing risk.
Once construction has finished on a project there are many benefits to continue using digital processes which utilise the BIM data, such as replacing the need for 2D documents and manual processes that were previously crucial to a buildings operation.
Risk is heavily eliminated with BIM resolving problems before they even begin through the use of visualisation and using the model for construction sequencing (known as 4D).
Specifiers will be a large proportion of BIM content users. These are prominently the designers and owners behind the project.
During this process, they can run reports using the data provided within a BIM project and ensure that all the components used are in the right place, to avoid any obstruction or building errors in the long run, known as clash detection (or clash avoidance if done as part of the design process).
The BIM process doesn’t stop at the design stage, on site, the construction team will refer to the designer’s model to make sure everything is carried out accordingly. They may use their own software such as Navisworks or Solibri to run further class detection tests to make sure that their part of the project is built with efficiency, lack of error and at the lowest cost possible.
Contractors can use the model to plan the most efficient construction sequence and even add temporary works and specialist equipment to the model (a process often referred to as 4D construction simulation).
Post project completion
After the project has been built, the owner of management of the building can harness the data acquired throughout the process to run facilities management tasks on a day to day basis. Many current businesses may already analyse this aspect of their workplace without BIM, but using it allows for a more accurate, detailed and real time analysis.
There are many reasons why BIM benefits the productivity and operational value of designing, constructing and operating a building. As users and specifiers become more proficient, the opportunities to improve productivity are more articulate with the lifecycle of a project.
BIM is a means for collaboration
Ensuring that everyone is on the same page in the lifecycle of a project is important. In the past, collaborative processes in a project have led to significant problems. Unlike the general practice where one stage of the process isn't fully aware or informed about another, building information modelling gives all those involved an overall view of the entire project.
Using BIM reduces project re-work
The lack of communication in construction prior to the use of BIM meant that projects required more re-works. BIM is centralised – any updates or changes made are instantly reflected, which leads to a unified work and fewer construction errors.
BIM increases productivity
When you use BIM, you’re not spending as much time on a project compared to the traditional design process. BIM boosts productivity and reduces cost. Constant information flow being a single point of reference improves the communication and operational efficiency. BIM streamlines the project’s construction phase, leading to improvements in productivity as well as the quality of the work.
Pre-construction project visualisation and simulation
By using BIM, you can plan and visualise an entire project during preconstruction - before the shovel even hits the ground. Simulations and 3D visualizations allow clients to experience how the development will look and perform, giving you the ability to make changes before construction starts. Having a greater overview from the beginning minimises expensive and time-consuming changes later.
BIM improves co-ordination
BIM allows you to better co-ordinate trades and subcontractors, detecting any MEP, internal, or external clashes before construction begins. With BIM, one project stage can work coherently with another by centrally locating a project’s vital information. This improves co-ordination and provides an efficient workflow.
Reduction of conflict and clash detection
BIM allows for clash-detection of elements within a project. Clashes are discovered early within the design process which leads to the reduction of costly on-site conflict. Whether it’s a pipe going through a wall or an unidentified doorway along a wall, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be extremely costly to stall construction to “edit” the design.
The overall quality, speed of work, information transparency and consistency makes customers extremely satisfied with the process.
In May of 2011, the UK Cabinet Office announced a long-term government construction strategy aimed at improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of construction projects. The short-term goal was to reduce construction costs by 15 to 20%. The government required fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016.
The strategy calls on the construction industry to work more collaboratively and to use information technology to support the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the government’s-built assets.
Components of the UK BIM Mandate
To support the strategy, several standards and specifications have been created – new policies, protocols, and tools have been devised and others revised; and government projects have been used to test new methods and obtain feedback from the government and industry.
The UK BIM Mandate currently includes eight main components that enable project teams (owners, supply chain designers, contractors and fabricators) to understand, specify and adhere to BIM processes and procedures for working together on BIM projects. The Mandate components are as follows:
BS (British Standard) 1192-4:2014
Supplying BIM objects is all well and good but adhering to industry standards is a must if you want to increase or start gaining specifiers.
It’s crucial that you enter and complete your full data set about your BIM object in the content creation or review stage. This means that any of your current or prospective specifiers can use your products from day one of the project, allowing for any margin of error to be minimalised.
Whilst it’s also important to know the industry standards, you should be aware of the current climate too. The government mandate and the BIM Level 2 standard are a must read if you want to be able to optimise your objects potential in relation to industry use.
The standards for BIM hosting will all be tailored to the platform you wish to use. For example, at bimstore we’ve created the bimstore bible (available below), which are specific documents categorised by the software you may use about what we need and look for in your objects during the creation process.
To make it easier for manufacturers and specifiers to create content that complies with the various industry standards, we have created a handy guide that translates all requirements into a single, plain language document called the bimstore bible. Similar resources should be available for free from other hosts, too. They will be based around the same rules and regulations as ours.
With regards to data requirements for BIM objects, the main data schema is COBie, which is covered in BS1192:4, and originated in the USA when the development of BIM was very much in its early days. The background of BIM, we’ve outlined here for more context.
What we also include in our resources are sections from various industry documents. For example, if you’re using the Revit bimstore bimbible, you’ll see that we’ve used the Autodesk Revit Architecture Families Guide, BS1192:4 – Asset Management & Operation as well as the AEC (UK) BIM Standard for Autodesk Revit.
What the bimstore bible allows us to do, is provide all the necessary and vital information your specifiers will need from the moment they spot your object online. When they’re packaged and downloaded with the full data set, they’re more likely to return and use your objects again if the hard work is already done for them. Remember, they’re downloading these for free - we want to show them that they’re getting the highest quality BIM objects to increase your product sales.
If you’re not hosting with us at bimstore, that’s not a problem, as you can be sure your content is authored to industry requirements and should be accepted by other libraries.
A content review is essentially a health check on your BIM objects. Most teams you approach are going to employ similar tasks to make sure that your content meets industry standard and has all the right data needed to use your objects in a project.
For a better understanding of the current industry standards, have a look at our bimstore bible.
Once bimstore has completed your review, you’ll receive a comments document that will need to be actioned before your hosting can begin. Again, you can action this yourself or we can do this for you.
The practice of facilities management (FM) is concerned with the maintenance and functionality of a building. Through the use of a digital CAFM system, BIM can provide a range of FM solutions.
A digital twin is a real time digital representation of a physical object or system, although they can now be used on larger scale projects such as buildings.
Sensors transmit data from the real life counterpart to the twin, which allows the twin to mirror the real building, displaying any adjustments that are made in real time and also showing any potential problems with the building.
Safety is also a huge benefit as artificial intelligence can analyse crowd behaviour, which enables the building to be designed with public safety in mind.
Another benefit is the ability to modify a design according to the information provided by the digital twin, which leads to a reduction in cost of the project as the changes would not have to be made during the construction process.
Whether you’re new to BIM or somewhat of a veteran, you should know how to make the most of your chosen content library.
Think of a content library like Spotify or iTunes, a central store of all the BIM objects you need to complete your project. Simply put, you can log in to your platform of choice, download your objects and you’re set to go.
But for most content providers, the journey doesn’t end there. If you’re a manufacturer, hosting your objects on a platform can come with numerous advantages from advanced analytics to marketing prospects. For specifiers, platforms are constantly looking for ways to improve both the ease of use and accessibility of their content. Whether that’s providing the materials for a Revit family within the download or simply distributing their content with complete and regulated parameters.
As BIM progresses and the industry evolves around it, content libraries and platforms alike are becoming more important every day. By out sourcing your BIM content creation process to a platform for your own products or downloading them for free instead of creating an object inhouse for every project, you’re cutting down the risk of error and the time it takes to complete a project by a huge amount.
BIM libraries are so easy to find, too. As a healthy tip – make sure the platform you’re using provides exactly what you’re looking for as each service differs from one another in their BIM content. For example, some platforms focus on the quantity and size of their library rather than the quality of products within it. If you’re looking for a quick placeholder, this could be the right choice for you. However, there are platforms that will also provide manufacturer specific content with complete data sets including the materials, this may be better for you in terms of cutting down your project turnaround time.
To understand your content library thoroughly, you should know who’s using it. There are 3 types of audiences when it comes to the BIM process. Specifiers, on-site construction team and the end users who will use BIM past the stage of completion. For your platform, it’s important to understand that its audience will largely be those in the specifiers category, e.g. architects, engineers and consultants. However, don’t completely rule out the end user, after all this may be their own project and could want to be a part of it from the ground up. For manufacturers, it’s important to remember that this should mean remaining ease to use and accessible, check out our tips on how to get specified for further info.
For the most part, specifying BIM objects is totally free. Most platforms give you access to their entire library completely free, but there are exceptions. Industry giants such as Unifi have a private content library and therefor charge specifiers to be a part of that service. For manufacturers, it’s slightly different. You can pay platforms a fee for either content creation, hosting or both.
Revit is software developed by Autodesk which allows users to produce building designs and documentation by using BIM objects and components.
The software includes tools for professionals across a range of industries including architectural design, structural engineering, MEP engineering and construction.
The software also makes it easy for individuals working collaboratively across different parts of a project with the worksharing feature. Any changes made to a design will be reflected within Revit through the use of parametric modelling.
Revit has the capacity to store huge amounts of data, with the ability to create schedules, quantities and material take-offs. There is also the option to import and export files in the IFC format with a number of different IFC standards being supported. This means that if you export a Revit BIM model to IFC format then that information can be used directly by other building specialists, such as structural and building services engineers.
Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is a global standard (ISO 16739:2013) used to describe and share both model and associated meta data as a reference MVD.
Using IFC allows you to share data across different types of software. It is supported by about 150 applications across the world, meaning that when construction professionals use IFC, they are still able use the software of their choice.
Clashes occur in designs when an asset’s component are not suitably positioned and therefore conflict with each other.
There are two main types of clash: ‘hard’ clashes and ‘soft’ clashes.
A hard clash often has a significant impact in terms of both time and cost if it is eventually discovered onsite. Soft clashes are to do with the spatial allowances a component requires. Other types of clashes are also possible; these are known as ‘Workflow or 4D clashes’ and could be caused by things such as delivery timings or other timeline problems.
By using BIM, clashes can be spotted and avoided before the construction process begins, which could save a lot of wasted time and money on making the necessary corrections when it’s too late.
The Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) define the information that will be required by the employer from both their own internal team and from supplies for the development of the project and for the operation of the completed built asset.
Relevant extracts from the employer’s information requirements are included in procurement documents for the appointment of each supplier appointed directly by the employer, which may include; advisers, consultants, contractors and so on.
Prospective suppliers respond to the employer’s information requirements with a pre-contract BIM execution plan from which their proposed approach, capability and capacity can be evaluated.
Development of the employer’s information requirements is likely to be an iterative process.
Initially, it might take the form of a simple information requirements process map which identifies the key decisions that will need to be made during the project to ensure the solution developed satisfies the business need, and defines in very broad terms the information that will be needed to make the decisions.
BIM Execution Plans (BEP) are submitted at both the pre- and post-contract stages in response to the Employer’s Information Request (EIR).
When tendering for a contract, suppliers put together a BEP to outline their capabilities and capacity to meet the employer’s requirements.
Once the contract has been won by a supplier, they will then have to submit a post-contract BEP to confirm their capabilities match those required by the EIR and set out exactly how they will provide the requested information. This BEP should include agreed targets for the delivery, exchange, reuse and final handover to clients.
A Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP) will also be drawn up and submitted. This document gives a timeline for the preparation of information throughout the project, attributes responsibility to those preparing the information and the protocols regarding that information.
An Asset Information Model (AIM) is a set of information which has been gathered from a variety of sources regarding the management of a built asset during its operational phase.
The AIM is used by a variety of individual involved in the project, such as clients and facility managers. It should also be compatible with computer-aided facility management systems (CAFCM) which allow facility managers to reactively and proactively maintain a built asset by monitoring it through use of the software.
A Common Data Environment (CDE) is an online portal used for storing and sharing information between a team working on a project.
A CDE may contain a number of different sections or areas within itself such as a ‘work in progress’ area for ongoing documents to be stored.
One of the main benefits of a team working collaboratively through a CDE is that it helps to avoid duplication and mistakes throughout a project, it also minimises the time and money wasted by inefficient information systems.
This could take one of many potential forms: project servers and cloud-based systems are both examples of Common Data Environments.