The construction industry is starting to see the benefits of BIM. Estimators, designers, project managers, and subcontractors are using BIM to improve their processes. As BIM technology gets better and more companies to start adopting it, construction companies will see more benefits.
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What is BIM
Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is a way of representing many parts of the construction process. BIM can represent the terrain, utilities and buildings. BIM management is the process of generating and managing digital representations. This includes the physical and functional characteristics of places. BIM isn’t just building a 3D computer model; it shows how certain buildings and materials should hold up over time. BIM incorporates multiple CADs or computer-aided designs, and technical specifications to fully design a project. BIM uses CAD, this is the 3D modeling portion of a BIM model. Designers and others manipulate these three-dimensional images to verify the configuration and produce better buildings.
Designers use BIM models to show how a building will wear with time. BIM is a 4D rendering tool because it can display time’s effects as well as the 3D model. BIM models are easier to share than paper design plans. Designers can also turn those 3D models into 2D drawings for clarification or those who like having both. BIM works to increase collaboration between designers, subcontractors, and more in the early phases of construction. Since users can collaborate early with BIM, they can also reduce the amount of rework that a project could need.
Benefits of BIM in the Construction Industry
There are some general benefits of BIM in the construction industry. Several case studies show that BIM can reduce rework. Designers can create a design in CAD, but use BIM to see the clash. Since the designer can add individual components like ductwork to the interior and exterior layouts, they can see if everything will fit. Another great benefit that everyone shares in is the reduction of changes and conflict. Because designers and contractors can easily spot conflict on a BIM model, they can make changes before the project breaks ground. In this way, BIM increases the communication between designers and contractors which helps both sides produce a better product.
For Architects and Designers
Conflict reduction and reducing rework are extremely beneficial to designers and architects. It shows that their designs are constructible which makes them look better. However, it isn’t the only benefit of BIM that architects and designers see.
Designers and architects also experience the benefit of BIM in design retention. Because architects can ensure the concept is kept from the start to the end of the design period, they can enforce the design. This means that the final building will look like the concept, so owners will get the exact product that they were expecting.
BIM models are a database of information. BIM can be used to store individual costs associated with each element in the building. So every single piece in the model has an associated cost that can be totaled up with BIM software easily. This makes an estimators job easier.
In no way does BIM replace an estimator. Estimators have years of experience and training that is invaluable to the company and projects. However, estimators can see the benefits of BIM in the database of knowledge. Estimators can use the model as a second step verification. If their numbers and the models numbers are way off, then they can ask the designers to go through the model with them. That way both parties can use their knowledge to ensure an accurate estimate and plan.
For Project Managers
Project managers who use it see a wide range of benefits of BIM. Since 2015, Dodge Data & Analytics has reported that project managers that use BIM have seen dramatic improvements. Project managers that use BIM saw a decrease in the final project cost and a reduction in their project schedule. And that was from a report from 3 years ago. In the three years since BIM technology has gotten better. Couple that with the increase in BIM using companies, project managers can see the highest return on investment with BIM technology.
Subcontractors experience the most benefits of BIM. Not only do subcontractors see the same benefits in project managers, but they see additional benefits as well. Subcontractors see more benefits of BIM in change order management. BIM is an easy tool for subcontractors to use in order to help with change orders. While overall, BIM should be able to help prevent change orders, when they’re needed it is helpful to subcontractors. Subcontractors can attach BIM files with change orders to show why it’s needed. And subcontractors can overlay different variants of the plan to see what has been added, changed, or deleted to stay up to date on the plan.