The field of architecture and construction has not been the same since the introduction of building information modeling (also known as BIM). What started as an innovative way of 3D rendering models quickly evolved into a full-service platform for managing all aspects of construction or civil engineering project. Modern BIM software provides support along all stages of construction — from initial the conception and design phase to on-site work and even exploitation and maintenance.
There are several high-performing BIM software solutions out there, including Revit and Autodesk Construction solutions (BIM 360). While different programs have slight variations when it comes to functionality, they are designed to be helpful not only to project managers and architects but to everyone involved in the project.
In this article, we will outline the various benefits BIM offers to all types of construction professionals — from architects to engineers, fabricators, and business decision-makers.
Benefits of BIM for Construction Professionals
As we already mentioned, BIM software was initially designed to process and render higher-quality 3D models for the AEC industry. However, the sheer amount of data available on the platform made it extremely convenient for much more. With the advancements in technology, BIM has become more powerful than ever before, outfitting all construction professions with all the tools they need.
Let’s take a look at some specific examples of how certain professions can make use of BIM and the benefits it offers to the different people involved in the construction process.
For architects, BIM allows highly accurate designs and minimum design errors during the initial planning and preconstruction phase. The outstanding 3D modeling capabilities of BIM make communication with clients quite efficient, thus providing a better design process and cost savings. Since modern BIM solutions are cloud-based, architects can collaborate with all other stakeholders through a single platform in real-time. All project information is kept up to date for all users, allowing architects and engineers to work with the same data at all times.
With BIM, architects can maintain comprehensive documentation, automate task sequencing, and reduce risk to a minimum. As a result, project delivery can happen on time and within budget. Data shows that architects who use BIM optimally can complete projects with less time and fewer resources.
BIM implementation results in better collaboration between design teams and structural engineers, allowing for better and more efficient structural models. A building information model contains lots of data useful to structural engineers, including integrated geometric models, finished elements analysis, technical descriptions, and related documentation. What is even better — the capabilities that BIM has when it comes to data exchange and workflows are virtually limitless. Structural engineers no longer have to create parallel models or work on a different platform.
The advanced functionalities that BIM has, such as clash detection and interoperability, make it invaluable when it comes to saving time and reducing risk in structural engineering. With BIM tools, you can cut the time spent on risk assessment and analysis a lot, as opposed to manually checking everything on paper. In the end, structural engineers have quite a lot to benefit from when using BIM tools such as Revit and its competitors.
When it comes to steel fabrication, BIM opens a whole new world for manufacturers. Before BIM, standard fabrication processes always involved miscalculations, inconsistencies in design, and a general lack of productive oversight. Those issues were only made worse when you factor in miscommunication between the design and manufacturing project teams. However, with BIM, those are problems of the past. The BIM process provides fabricators with better visualization, accurate data across the board, and excellent interoperability.
From prefabrication to inspection, BIM technology improves all aspects of fabrication work. The detailed 3D models leave little place for errors during manufacturing, making for lower costs and better scheduling. On top of that, BIM can generate reports on materials and assembly lists, further improving the overall optimization of the process. Finally, machines can be easily provided with the needed data directly from the BIM software, making work with modular structures easier.
One of the best features of BIM is that it provides in-depth insights into design data and allows complex analysis of a project while it is still at the design level. MEP engineers can make great use of this, as they get access to critical information about walls with electricity or plumbing, ceiling elevation, size and architecture of rooms, etc. Based on this data, MEP engineers can accurately plan wiring and plumbing before the construction phase begins.
When it comes to MEP engineering, clash detection is of the utmost importance. BIM software excels at exactly that, thus saving time and money on potential mistakes and necessary rework during construction. As with the other professions on this list, the collaboration allowed by cloud computing is invaluable to MEP engineers as well. Having up-to-date information at all times enables engineers to do precise cross-referencing throughout the project’s lifecycle and streamline their work.
The Benefits of BIM for Business Executives and Project Management
Since modern BIM tools are designed to support all aspects of a construction project, they are especially useful for business executives and project managers as well. While many of the benefits for construction professionals outlined above still apply here, working with BIM brings many organizational and risk mitigation improvements for project managers.
Let’s explore some specific ways in which BIM helps executives, managers, and other leadership staff.
Better Cost Estimation
Calculating the estimated costs for a construction project is far from easy. With the wide margins of error associated with construction, project managers often find it difficult to determine precise cost estimates. However, BIM comes to the rescue with the so-called model-based cost estimating (simply known as 5D BIM). This method quantifies and applies costs for every different aspect of the project automatically. BIM tools automate many arduous tasks, giving managers time to focus on other essential tasks. In fact, BIM software itself has an excellent return on investment when you keep all those benefits in mind.
No matter the size and scope of a construction project, it always comes with a fair amount of risk involved. There are many types of risk managers need to be aware of, including design issues, worker safety, scheduling problems, and lack of resources. BIM software helps managers carefully assess and mitigate risk on all steps of the project life cycle. For example, accurate 3D models help identify design flaws and potential hazards to workers.
Improved Construction Schedule
Optimizing and keeping a project schedule used to be a lot harder than it should. Scheduling setbacks can end up costing a lot of time and nerves, especially for big projects. BIM software can help managers optimize and improve their scheduling because of its cloud-based nature. All information and data are stored in a single platform, giving everyone involved in the project access at a moment’s notice. Managers can accurately plan and share timetables with all team members and keep everyone informed in case any changes occur.
Safe Working Conditions
On-site and off-site work always comes with certain hazards involved, no matter the size or type of building. The safety of construction teams should be the number one priority for project managers and decision-making stakeholders. BIM software provides all needed tools to carefully plan each aspect of the operation, as well as to identify and mitigate any on-site and off-site safety hazards on time. With worker accidents in the construction industry being extremely dangerous and potentially lethal, managers need to take the proper steps to evaluate the site and take all needed safety measures.
Facility Management During the Operational Phase
BIM software and the data it generates continue to be useful even after the construction project is finished. Once in exploitation, the building will need regular maintenance and maybe even remodeling as the years go by. Facility managers can make use of the stored BIM data to make informed decisions and optimize their work. There are various facility management software solutions that can be easily integrated with BIM tools for data exchange. This way, renovation, and operational handovers can be done quickly and easily.
The Role of BIM in Construction
To conclude our article, we need to restate the value of BIM in the construction industry as a whole. Ever since the emergence of BIM, the industry experienced exponential change for the better. Nowadays, construction projects are executed in an entirely different way when compared to a decade ago. BIM tools are used by everyone involved — from project managers and architects to engineers and on-site staff. BIM is essential to the entire project — from the initial design and planning to construction and exploitation.
As you can see from our article, BIM offers quite a lot when it comes to benefits. Today, BIM is a necessity for every construction project, despite its size and scope. Making effective use is no longer just an option — it is the standard by which the construction companies operate as a whole.
INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, Civil Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, Construction, MEP Engineering, Structural Engineering