Everyone likes to predict what technology will impact the future of structural engineering; however, it’s already on the precipice of change. Programs like BIM 360 are changing the way that structural engineers work, how they communicate designs and the longevity of buildings. BIM 360 is a powerful tool that is changing how buildings are built, as well as changing the future of structural engineering.
What is BIM 360
BIM is building information modeling, architects, contractors, and structural engineers use it to design and model buildings. Users can generate and manage digital representations of the functional and physical places. They can see how a building will fare over time, weather, and other events. BIM offers users the ability to put in material strengths and other measurements to control for material factors. As a whole, it can provide more insight into the project in the design phase than ever before. BIM 360 is a specific product that allows users to be able to see these plans in real time and make adjustments before issues arise.
BIM a prominent planning and drawing tool nowadays. It carries with it a lot of benefits that can be used by designers, project managers and more. However, there is still a lot of misunderstanding surrounding BIM and its benefits to structural engineering. Some believe that it is just a 3D modeling platform, or that it is completely separate from paper drawings. Often times that means that they will complete the paper drawings and calculations before creating a 3D model. And even then, the model might not be used to determine how materials will hold up, or other useful facts.
Where BIM is Improving Construction
BIM isn’t just a 3D model or representation of the building, it is the future of structural engineering. Structural engineers can use the information as to material strength, weight, and other predetermined factors to construct the building in a model. This gives them the chance to more accurately calculate and model which materials should be used. 3D models convey the design and what the building should look like by the end of the construction process. BIM gives the designers, contractors, and engineers a chance to make changes before construction starts. Structural engineers can spot issues with the design, or ways to make impossible designs possible. And contractors can spot issues with placement in order to save the stakeholders money.
BIM will also change the future of structural engineering with how they estimate labor and materials. Takeoffs can be much more accurate using BIM rather than drawings. Since structural engineers spend weeks or months making sure the models are accurate, they provide a better understanding of what and how much is needed to build it.
BIM is also changing the quality control and quality assurance structure. Many users are finding it easy to compare actual progress photos with BIM models. This allows them to see what the actual and modeled conditions are and make changes as need be. It can also be easier to determine the quality control checklist based off of BIM models.
The Future of Structural Engineering and BIM
There is some fear that BIM will negatively impact the future of structural engineering because it might lead to lazy modeling. And these fears have merit. If a structural engineer isn’t careful about the information they put in, there is a chance that the computer might give out bad information. In the process, people can get hurt, or there would need to be rework. However, this is also true of traditional drawings. They too can be inaccurate due to human error.
BIM can connect the architects, structural engineers, general contractor, and subcontractors together. It gives them a workable model to give feedback on. It’s a way for subcontractors to explain why a specific portion of the project may or may not be feasible and how to fix it. It’s a tool that will reduce the amount of rework and the overall price of projects. The future of structural engineering and the future of construction is BIM technology.
And as useful as BIM is and as many features as it won’t replace structural engineers anytime soon. BIM programs can take the information put in and quickly turn out models and workable data. However, it doesn’t necessarily know or understand the principles and foundations of engineering. As such, it doesn’t replace structural engineers, rather enhances the work they already do. BIM is connecting doors and dreamers together to build the intricate, impressive, and sustainable buildings of our future.