What is BIM?

​Building Information Modelling, or BIM for short, is changing the way project teams work with information about buildings, for better planning, design, construction and operations. Below we briefly explain what BIM is, why it’s important and how to begin using it.

Currently a major “buzzword” in construction, BIM is rapidly becoming the standard process for construction. Informed clients and projects teams want to use BIM, as it addresses many of the problems associated with outdated paper-based processes. In fact, if you are supplying design, construction services or products into the UK, on public projects, then by 2016 the application of BIM will be mandatory. Similarly in France by 2017. And while BIM is already mandatory in other countries, a number of major projects in Ireland already require BIM. So, what is the significance​ of this to the construction industry? 

Well put very simply, people no longer only want the physical building or product, they want the “information” about that building or product, in a useful, digital format, that is going to improve communication, understanding, streamline workflows, and reduce uncertainty, risk and wasteBeing able to operate and contribute in BIM, provides you with a significant competitive edge, which is why it’s vital to understand and adopt this, and not get left behind.​​

​So what is BIM?

BIM is both a technology and a process. A new way of creating, managing and exchanging information about buildings.

Traditional practices producing and sharing information about buildings involved developing multiple, individually produced 2D drawings and other paper-based documents. These practices have become out-dated and problematic in our fast-paced modern environment. They are cumbersome and slow, and have inherent flaws, such as not having the right information at the right time, or human error and coordination issues between these separately produced documents, which lead to delay, variations, cost-overruns and disputes.

BIM takes a different approach. Instead of producing 2D documentation to build a building, we first build a virtual 3D building in software, where we can understand the design and make sure everything works, and from which we can automatically generate the documentation required from the building model. The virtual 3D model, or BIM, is assembled from intelligent objects that represent their real life counterparts. Each object acts as the primary placeholder for vital digital information about that component which can be shared and accessed by others.  In this virtual building, people can navigate, explore, analyse and query information, to make sure they understand the design, see that everything works and fits together, to resolve issues, before they build it physically on site.

​When the design is complete, traditional drawings, schedule and documents can be automatically derived from these models, but the usefulness of BIM, as an approach, is that all the information is captured in one place, and if a change is required, managed in one place, so that all documents can be kept coordinated and up to date at all times, bringing about enormous efficiencies in creating, managing and exchanging information, and avoiding the errors and duplication of effort associated with the traditional exchange of paper-based information.​​​

​So​ why is BIM important?

Managing and exchanging information in this digital environment, results in better documentation, and is streamlining the way people work and collaborate, bringing efficiencies and productivity gains, and the opportunity to make better decisions. Getting everyone to develop building information in a BIM process, opens up opportunities to easily bring information together, review, resolve, analyse and quantify, with a level of sophistication that was difficult or impossible to achieve before.

Overall BIM helps bring significant benefits in cost, value and performance, reducing waste, risk, and the excessive adversarial administration associated with the traditional problematic approach.

So how do you begin in BIM?​

​​Unfortunately, none of the benefits of BIM will be achieved automatically, unless there is a clearly defined and managed BIM process and strategy, which every participant is required to adhere to during their contribution to the project. Skill and understanding of BIM is required. The project team needs to work closely with the client to ensure key aspects are put in place to drive the BIM process through design and construction to the successful handover of the project. There needs to be an agreed standard, clearly defined Information Requirements, and a project BIM Execution Plan that will drive the BIM strategy throughout the project.

This is where ArcDox can help. As Ireland’s leading BIM consultancy practice, we have been advising people and companies on how to best implement BIM, giving them the understanding and skills to use the various software tools and processes. We have provided skilled production resources to support companies on over 50 projects, and we have trained and supported over 500 people to help make sure their implementation is successful, to help ensure that real productivity gains are achieved. By working with ArcDox, you get the benefit of all our experience, our training programs, our support services, and production resources, to help leverage the benefits of BIM.

And we look forward to being part of your BIM Journey.​​