Find out more about how BIM really works.
Far from being software, BIM is about the processes and information held and shared on a project, digitally. Software – from 3D modelling and CAD to full-blown BIM packages – is a useful tool.
However, it is the better planning, decision making and collaboration that the information and models enable that really makes a difference. Adopting these tools and processes on site requires new ways of working which the entire supply chain needs to be signed up to.
Any new way of working may feel frustratingly slow to begin with, but most recent surveys report significant saving in delivery time. This can be seen in the examples of clash detention and avoiding errors that data-rich models can enable. With BIM, less time should be spent on mistakes and re-work.
However: ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’ BIM forces planning and collaboration, so the resulting outcome saves time on project delivery. It may add a step or two to the process, but should remove painful, unexpected and unplanned steps as the project evolves.
Concerns about BIM software are often associated with high expense – and hence its association with big, highly lucrative projects. There is no requirement for expensive software packages, these may be a worthwhile investment anyway, especially where working across multiple projects. There are also a number of lower cost software options, and free apps to work on phones and tablets.
BIM is more about a new away of working than just the technology. Beyond software, it is likely companies will need to invest in training. It’s important everyone knows what role they play and how to get the most from BIM. This can add to the cost of adoption, but it’s about future-proofing the workforce and the resulting cost, time and quality benefits are likely to make it worthwhile.
The benefits of BIM are certainly going to be more keenly felt on big projects, not least because it’s a pre-requisite for many government projects both in the UK and abroad.
Yet the blog “There's no BIM like home – One man’s dream to BIM and IOT his Smart Home” is about applying BIM to a two-bedroom terrace in Wales and feeling the benefits of having – and owning – the data about a property. Yes, it’s written by a BIM expert, but it offers a clear insight into how BIM doesn’t only apply to large projects.
BIM has been a long time coming. It is a natural evolution. The construction industry constantly innovates, but is simultaneously risk-averse – no-one wants to see buildings fall or cause harm.
Digital technologies have matured, and the construction industry must roll with it. Those who fail to move may find themselves left behind.
Whilst BIM will certainly help flush out problems, it can’t solve them all, and it won’t automate everything. What it will do is make people think and collaborate towards a better outcome.