Why you need to know about ‘BIM’?
The BIM Context
Large building projects are complex. They involve a diverse supply-chain, working across distributed locations, each carrying out discipline-specific activities to an agreed timeframe and budget. Coordinating these activities is a significant challenge and the acid test is what happens once on site. With such complexity it is easy for processes to break down and to face problems on site which could have been prevented; a common example being when a “clash” occurs.
The challenges don’t end with construction. Post-occupancy, there is the need to maintain and operate a building. It is not uncommon for an operator to be handed numerous DVDs containing unstructured documents and data, or even “a truck load of lever-arch folders” (containing all information about the asset). It can sometimes take years for operators to obtain a fully-structured, populated database of all their current assets and associated data: Tiles, Windows, Air-Conditioning Units, Doors, Fire-extinguishers, Boilers, Water Coolers – Who supplied them? Under what commercial terms? To what specification? Installed by whom? With what guarantee?
The inability to search easily through unstructured information means that extracting any value from handover data, particularly across multiple buildings or assets can be a huge challenge. This is particularly relevant given, recently, the National Audit Office questioned the public sector’s ability to consolidate and share its office estate due, in part, to poor communication and a lack of standards between government Departments.
It is hardly surprising therefore that the government recognises that improved processes, planning, supply-chain collaboration and standardised, structured, electronic data capture for buildings will remove waste and allow the industry to deliver the same capital investment programmes to a reduced budget (reduced by 20%) – a major component of deficit reduction.
The Coalition’s strategy is to drive these efficiencies through the industry adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Put simply, BIM means the coordinated capture of all data about a building throughout the building lifecycle. It is a move away from defining a building purely by its geometry, to defining it by its geometry and (electronic) data combined. This rich data model forms the basis of myriad efficiencies across the lifecycle of the building, from inception to deconstruction.