What is BIM?

The Handbook of BIM (Eastman, Teicholz, Sacks & Liston 2011) defines, “With BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology, one or more accurate virtual models of a building are constructed digitally. They support design through its phases, allowing better analysis and control than manual processes. When completed, these computer-generated models contain precise geometry and data needed to support the construction, fabrication, and procurement activities through which the building is realized.”

BIM or Building Information Modeling is a process for creating and managing information on a construction project across the project lifecycle. One of the key outputs of this process is the Building Information Model, the digital description of every aspect of the built asset. This model draws on information assembled collaboratively and updated at key stages of a project. Creating a digital Building Information Model enables those who interact with the building to optimize their actions, resulting in a greater whole life value for the asset.

B is for Building.

The key point to remember here is that “building” doesn’t mean “a building.” BIM can be used for so much more than designing a structure with four walls and a roof. This preconceived notion of “building” comes from its roots—in an etymological sense, it quite literally means “house.”

In order to get the true gist of BIM, however, it helps to think of the word “building” in terms of the verb “to build.”

BIM is a process that involves the act of building something together, whether it relates to architecture, infrastructure, civil engineering, landscaping or other large-scale projects.

I is for Information.

And that information is embedded into every aspect of your project. This is what makes BIM “smart.”

Every project comes with a staggering amount of information, from prices to performance ratings and predicted lifetimes. It tells your project’s life story long before the ground is ever broken and it will help track potential issues throughout your project’s lifetime. BIM is a way to bring all of these details into one place so it’s easy to keep track of everything.

M is for Modeling.

In BIM, every project is built twice—once in a virtual environment to make sure that everything is just right and once in a real environment to bring the project to life.

This step is the overview of every other aspect of the building and its information. It provides the measure or standard for the building project—an analogy or smaller-scale representation of the final appearance and effect. It will continue to model this representation throughout the building’s lifespan.

This model can become a tool for the building owner’s reference long after construction is completed, helping to inform maintenance and other decisions. It’s also the step that will help to sell a concept while condensing all of those other layers of information that show the building’s every detail.

How can BIM help you?

BIM brings together all of the information about every component of a building, in one place. BIM makes it possible for anyone to access that information for any purpose, e.g. to integrate different aspects of the design more effectively. In this way, the risk of mistakes or discrepancies is reduced, and abortive costs minimized.

BIM data can be used to illustrate the entire building life-cycle, from cradle to cradle, from inception and design to demolition and materials reuse. Spaces, systems, products and sequences can be shown in relative scale to each other and, in turn, relative to the entire project. And by signalling conflict detection BIM prevents errors creeping in at the various stages of development/ construction.

What is a BIM object?

A BIM object is a combination of many things

  • Information content that defines a product
  • Product properties, such as thermal performance
  • Geometry representing the product’s physical characteristics
  • Visualisation data giving the object a recognisable appearance
  • Functional data enables the object to be positioned and behave in the same manner as the product itself.

What is the future of BIM?

The future of the construction industry is digital, and BIM is the future of design and long term facility management; it is government led and driven by technology and clear processes; and it is implementing change across all industries. As hardware, software and cloud applications herald greater capability to handle increasing amounts of raw data and information, use of BIM will become even more pronounced than it is in current projects.

BIM is both a best-practice process and 3D modeling software. By using it, designers can create a shared building project with integrated information in a format that models both the structure and the entire timeline of the project from inception to eventual demolition.

It enables architects and engineers alike to work on a single project from anywhere in the world. It condenses a plethora of information about every detail into a workable format. It facilitates testing and analysis during the design phase to find the best answer to a problem.

It makes for easier design, simpler coordination between team members and easier structure maintenance across the entire built environment—and this is just the beginning.

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