The digital age has brought various changes in different fields and construction industry is no different from others. Going down the lane, the tools used for designing and constructing building began with pencil and paper. Then came CAD that transformed labor intensive drafting into efficient electronic documentation. Soon after, CAD went 3D and now, it’s all about BIM i.e. Building Information Modeling.
One of the major technology trends that is set to transform the construction industry is building information modeling, popularly known as “BIM”. It is a digital representation of functional and physical features of a facility. It helps generate a repository of collective knowledge about the requirements of the facility for efficient decision-making during its complete lifecycle.
BIM is a set of technologies and processes that lead to better outcomes at different stages of construction lifecycle from conceptual planning, design and engineering, procurement and construction, operation and maintenance and demolition.
Undoubtedly, what BIM brings is a complete transformation by helping construction projects move from design desks to physical reality. It removes redundant data, erases communication barriers, reduces cost, maintains updated information, brings operational efficiency, increases productivity, improves coordination among department and gives an overall efficiency to the complete lifespan of the project. For large infrastructure project, BIM is the necessity.
BIM In Layman’s Terms
When it comes to BIM, everything begins with a 3D digital building model. However, this model is more than simple geometry and symmetric textures added to it for visualization. A true BIM model consists of a virtual equivalence of the actual building section used for constructing a building. These intelligent elements are digital prototypes of the physical building element such as walls, doors, stairs etc. They allow us to simulate the building and understand its behavior before the actual construction begins.
How Can BIM Models Be Utilized?
3D Visualization: The most basic use of the BIM model is to create realistic visualizations of the planned building. The BIM model helps to design decisions by comparing various design alternatives and to sell your design to the clients, local community and other stakeholders.
Change Management: Since data is stored in a central place in a BIM model, any alteration to the building design will be automatically replicated in each field such as floor plans, sections and elevations. This not only helps in creating the documentation faster but also provides quality assurance via automatic coordination.
Building Simulation: BIM models contain more than architectural data. Information about the different engineering disciplines, sustainability information and other characteristics can be easily simulated with BIM.
Last few decades have witnessed urbanization at an unprecedented rate spurring massive development of infrastructure. The construction industry is currently facing challenges at regional, national and international platform. With increasing competition and limited time availability for accomplishing complex projects and reducing thinner margins, the construction industry is demanding transformation.
These challenges are providing opportunities to drastically change the way designing, construction and maintenance of buildings are done. However, implementation of this technology will require change in process and practice by all stakeholders. For veterans of the industry, who are inherently living in a comfort zone and are used to doing things in a certain way, may resist change in the process.
In the next two decades, construction, water, electric power, transportation and other municipal infrastructure including buildings will see a massive infusion of investments. They will be primarily motivated by environmental concerns, aging infrastructure and the need to accelerate economic development. A greater proportion of these investments will come from the private sector, which will drive an increased focus on productivity and to improve returns on investments. The challenge of augmenting productivity may be affected due to shortage of skilled labor. This technology is poised to transform the construction industry.