Poor visibility and disjointed collaboration between architects, contractors, engineers, owners, and facilities managers have been challenging for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector for decades. Inadequate communication and a lack of interoperability are leading causes of project delays and cost overruns.
Crossrail and HS2 transportation projects are famous examples of schemes that have encountered long and costly delays — between 4 and 7 years and 2 to 22 billion pounds! Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. McKinsey estimates that "98% of megaprojects suffer cost overruns of more than 30%".
Building Information Management (BIM) Solves Project Management Challenges
The AEC sector is increasingly turning to an advanced process to create and manage information across the project lifecycle known as building information management (BIM). BIM offers a digital representation of a facility down to the smallest detail. Leveraging BIM is helping extended teams overcome their communication and project management concerns as it allows for greater visibility and real-time collaboration for all key stakeholders.
In the UK, the government has been mandating the use of BIM in construction for more than a decade, starting with the Government Construction Strategy in 2011. While this strategy focuses on public sector contracts, the knock-on effect is that the private sector is increasingly using BIM in construction. According to one survey, 71% of construction professionals said they had adopted BIM.
So, what's with all the hoopla about BIM technology? What is it exactly? Why use it? And how can the architecture, engineering, and construction sector leverage its full potential?
What is BIM software?
BIM is a building design technology that creates 3D models to give users a digital representation of a facility or project's physical and functional characteristics.
The most advanced BIM models include:
- A centralised database of all related building information
- Intelligent data that covers construction sequencing, cost, and lifecycle management information
- A way to manage project document management, collaboration, and simulation
Underlying BIM is a simple idea. If everyone involved can see exactly what the result of a project is going to look like, they are better equipped to:
- Explore design options
- Provide stakeholders with information, graphics, and visualisations that show what the building or site will look like
- Produce the relevant documentation to support design and build
BIM can often be described as a digital version of physical plans; in effect, an updating of blueprints and architects' drawings made more accessible by being available digitally. But that overlooks the fundamental value of BIM modelling: that it is a single source of truth for all users and stakeholders to view, alter and improve plans, ultimately resulting in better design, construction and operations.
How Does the BIM Process Work?
Your project teams can use BIM software throughout a project lifecycle to bring clarity and efficiency to a site's construction:
- Planning: BIM software can inform, guide, and simplify project planning by allowing your team to use Reality Capture and real-world data to understand how a building will actually look in its natural environment.
- Design: The design phase can be the most complex of any construction process, requiring conceptual design, analysis, and extensive documentation. BIM models can organise construction and provide crucial information about a design's performance. It also informs logistics, simplifies scheduling, and gives all relevant personnel access to the correct information.
- Construction: BIM specifications and shared documents can guide and simplify fabrication through the build phase of a project. You can manage all the details, right down to the size of fixing if necessary.
- Operation: BIM's role doesn't stop when the building design is complete. The software can support the ongoing operations, maintenance, refurbishment, extension, and even demolition of a site.
Benefits of Using BIM Software
BIM software elevates all aspects of a building project. Some of the top benefits include:
- Better project delivery. Generate accurate production drawings and databases for manufacturing processes, which can increase the use of prefabricated and modular materials. This reduces waste and labour demands and helps manage material costs.
- Improved design information management. Visualise the project to enhance understanding of the finished site before building begins. All your project team members, including designers, contractors, engineers, etc., can use these models to see what's required in ways they all understand. This can lead to better productivity, more informed planning, and an increased ability to explore design alternatives. And for building owners, this can lead to increased asset lifecycle and lower maintenance costs.
- More accurate scheduling. Using building information modelling, you can better plan and quickly communicate schedules based on new information, changes, or new site conditions. Setbacks and delays can be captured and addressed, and timelines updated to reflect new schedules.
- Greater clarity with stakeholders and suppliers. Modern cloud capabilities in BIM software empower your internal and external teams to view and make drawing and document changes in real-time, on-site, or on a mobile device. BIM fuels better coordination and communication, analysis, and data management.
- Reduce cost and mitigate risks. With more construction projects being delivered on time and on budget, costs can be reduced in tender risk premiums. There are also lower insurance charges, fewer claim opportunities, and reduced labour costs through improved documentation and communication.
- Safer sites. BIM modelling can identify hazards and plan on-site logistics to create safer environments. Improved project deliverables can also reduce the chance of your project teams taking shortcuts to speed up delivery.
- Enhanced return on investment. Perhaps the most crucial benefit is BIM's effects on project management is greater ROI. When you implement BIM, you can enjoy lower interoperability, delay, operation, and maintenance costs. Your new facility will also get up and running sooner.
How advanced BIM technology can support the digital construction future
As with most other industries, the architecture, engineering, and construction industry is undergoing a significant digital transformation as modern technologies introduce efficiencies and alternative ways of working. Advanced BIM technology is changing how people work and has a role in improving the adoption of other technologies, such as the internet of things (IoT) and advanced analytics.
Accelerating Construction's IoT Use
The construction industry may be behind in its use of IoT capabilities, but with smart buildings becoming increasingly common, this is gradually changing.
BIM's use of modelling, data dissemination, and a single version of the truth provides both a source of data and a way of capturing and deploying intelligence derived from IoT. Sensors on equipment and inventory provide vital information regarding repair and maintenance requirements, stock levels, energy usage, and quality assurance. This data can feed into advanced BIM models to contribute to project planning and delivery.
Digitisation and data capture throughout the construction planning and design process have allowed firms to capture more information than ever before. Robust analytics improve the efficiency, risk management, cost, planning, and scheduling of projects, as well as BIM modelling.
Get More Out of BIM Software With Accruent
BIM technology is becoming a fact of life in construction and managing the built environment. But while its benefits and need are apparent, deploying it and integrating it among other tools requires knowledge and experience. Accruent has the expertise necessary, so your extended teams can collaborate better and get the most out of your building information modelling software to ensure the success of all your construction projects.
Learn how to integrate BIM standards into your facility management in this on-demand webinar.