Building Information Modeling (BIM) is fast becoming a well-known norm in many industries. While it is best known for its advantages in architecture and building design, it is also fast becoming an essential and widely used tool in engineering applications. So, what is BIM, where did it come from and what does the future of BIM look like?
What is BIM?
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process that involves collecting data to create a digital representation of a structure. It gives you the ability to use real-world elements in the construction and development of digital design.
For example, you can design a 3D building using floor slabs, walls, windows, doors, and roofs. This allows for more accurate representation and visualization of your project. BIM also allows you to use time as a factor, which is why some industry experts often refer to it as 4D software, the 4th dimension being time.
The Development Of BIM
Before the age of computers, construction design and planning was done by hand. Architects would plan buildings by drawing up 2D blueprints of the structure. This form of planning was made near obsolete once computers and more importantly Computer-Aided Design (CAD) was developed. Architects now had the ability to draft buildings in a 3D format while still having the ability to be viewed in 2D. BIM takes CAD one step further.
Some people refer to BIM as “CAD on steroids”. This is because it can do everything CAD can and much more. BIM can be used to process the length, width, and depth of a project, while also helping track time. Tracking time helps reduce the chance of conflicts occurring further down the track. Check out some additional differences between CAD and BIM (link opens in a new window).
Understanding CAD programs will make learning BIM easier, however, it is in no way essential. One of the most well-known and respected CAD and BIM software providers in the world is Autodesk. Autodesk offers a range of BIM online training courses and certifications (link opens in a new window) to develop your understanding and skills in building information modeling.
While you may be taught the basics of BIM during your studies at trade school or university, more advanced training will be completed on the job. Most professions that utilized BIM software during daily operations will require you to have a basic understanding before giving you the position.
The Benefits of BIM
With it, BIM brings a range of great benefits. Not only does BIM improve the efficiency and preciseness of your planning and design, but it also improves collaboration thanks to cloud computing, BIM will help improve collaboration (link opens in a new tab) between all parties involved with planning, design and construction. You can include review and mark-up steps to ensure the whole project team has had an input on the design. This will also reduce the chance of problems during the life of the project.
Gives A Visualization of The Project
Using a 3D modeling program allows for accurate and precise visualization of a project. Most programs also allow you to simulate a range of seasons to help with detailed planning. For example, which direction the sun hits the building to improve energy efficiency and design. 3D modeling is also a terrific way to show clients exactly what their project will look like once it’s completed. This will help encourage a sale.
Provides Access on the Go
Combining your BIM software with the capabilities of cloud computing will allow you to access the project on the go. Any device, any location. You can view and make changes while connected to the internet. This capability is great when you are visiting clients or accessing notes about the project while on-site.
One of the biggest benefits of using BIM is the ability to manage and schedule time. Increased time management will reduce conflict and clashes onsite which is costly to any business. BIM gives you the ability to schedule different operations such as time allocation to different construction operations, scheduling of materials, etc.
By using a shared model, there will be less duplication or errors from multiple users. It is also much faster than searching for information or drawing designs from hand. As databases can hold information about certain materials sizes and shapes, you have easy access to efficiently update the model as you move along with the simple click of a button. The computerized software, therefore, allows for a saving in labor costs.
Industries that can Benefit from BIM
CAD programs were primarily used by building designers and architects. However, BIM has opened the software up which allows it to be suitable for a wider range of industries. Some industries where BIM software has become prevalent if not the norm includes:
- Building Design
- Road/Highway Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Land Surveying
- Rail and Transport Engineering
- Urban Design and Planning
- Marine Architecture
The Future Of BIM
The future of BIM is bright with governments around the world such as the UK including BIM level 2 as a requirement for all government construction projects (link opens in a new tab). With the push from the government to make it a requirement, many industry sectors all likely to follow suit. Overall, the added benefits that BIM provides far outweigh its costs.
This article is written by Alex Hamilton. You can catch him on Google+.