BIM: definition and objectives of Building Information Modeling

In recent years, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been a real trend in the construction industry. Modelling of building construction data allows for more efficient work and coordination of efforts between the various parties involved in the project. Want to know everything about BIM and its benefits? Follow the guide!

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What is BIM?

If once the watchword for many was growth, today it is more about efficiency. Technology and the proliferation of data have generated tools to make processes more transparent and rational. Among these, BIM aims to create a virtual version of a building or a real estate project to enable the various stakeholders to collaborate effectively. The various jobs - architects, engineers, entrepreneurs and others - can coordinate their efforts and communicate in real time through BIM. A true digital twin, the Building Information Model aims to support the real estate project from its creation to its destruction.

BIM therefore aims to bring the construction sector into the digital age. While BIM is still primarily used for projects of a certain size, it promises to become the norm in the future to make all construction projects more efficient. In France, the BIM 2022 plan aims to achieve digital transformation in the building. 500.000 houses would have  been  built  using BIM in 2017. In addition, the use of a BIM approach is becoming more widespread. In 2018, 42% of owners reported  using   BIM,  compared to almost half this  percentage in 2016.

Also, at the European level, the potential of BIM is recognized. According to a Trend Paper Series published on the subject in March 2019, the potential savings in engineering and construction in the event of total digitalization in the non-residential sector would be in the range of 13 to 21%. When we know that the construction industry contributes about 10% to the Gross Domestic product in the United States, we understand better the importance of the stakes.

Some countries also follow the path and impose the use of BIM for public works; this is the case in the United Kingdom for example or the Netherlands. In fact, projects managed through BIMs are often carried out on budget, which is far from being the case for projects supervised in the traditional way. The savings are substantial as was the case for example for the Collaborative Life Sciences Building in the United States. Out of a budget of $295 million, a saving of $10 million was achieved using BIM. By comparison, it is currently estimated that the extra-cost of building the Grand Paris Express will be around 9 billion euros (an increase of almost 40% over the original budget). Project management based on data and collaboration is therefore the key to planning constructions and calculating a realistic budget.

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How does Building Information Model work?

It has been said that the Building Information Model aims to create a virtual version of the real estate project. We're talking about a digital twin. To be fully operational, the BIM must therefore be as close as possible to reality. This implies a certain discipline of the roles of the various stakeholders as well as a substantial upstream work.  Indeed, the quality  of the  BIM will depend  heavily on the  quality  and completeness of the data.

In practical terms, a BIM is most often presented in the form of software to model the real estate project in two and three dimensions. Different stakeholders have access to the BIM and can navigate the building to experiment or verify certain ideas. They can also change elements in real-time.  When a setting varies, all parameters are adjusted accordingly. If we take the example of insulation, by changing the insulation used, the width of the walls will be automatically adapted.

Like project management platforms, BIM allows for more harmonious collaboration. In the future, BIM is also expected to integrate augmented reality as well as virtual reality to make the model more and more efficient.

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What are the benefits of Building Information Modeling?

Working with a Building Information Model has many advantages. The model accompanies all stages of construction, from creation to delivery. It can also be used later from a management and maintenance perspective. We have already mentioned some advantages above. Here is a more detailed list:

  • BIM allows to assess the viability of a project and detect possible design errors beforehand;
  • It is a global system accessible to all parties in real time. There is therefore no confusion about the documents used or the latest version of the plans;
  • BIM enables efficient energy use. The level of detail used to create a BIM allows for a detailed analysis of the building's energy performance;
  • The building's supervision throughout its lifespan is facilitated by, for example, using predictive maintenance applications;
  • The cost of the different parts is optimized and the people  in charge are quickly identified in case of problems; and
  • Substantial cost savings can be achieved, and the initial budget will be more reliable.

While many consider BIM to be reserved for large-scale projects, it is also useful in private and residential projects. Who hasn't exceeded their budget when building the house of their dreams? Who hasn't hesitated one day when drilling, not knowing where the electrical cable is passing? Who didn’t have quite a surprise when discovering the original plans of their house? BIM is a real register compiling all relevant information relating to a building or construction.

Where to start to model your construction project?

Like many digital solutions, BIM, once implemented, is crumbling the assets. So, there is only one question: why isn't this the norm yet? This is due to two reasons. On one hand, the transition from a classic construction model to a "BIM-oriented" model requires a certain phase of adaptation for professionals. Some remain resistant to change and fear that a transparent system will cut back on their profits. On the other hand, the demand by individuals is not yet there and therefore professionals are not encouraged to change their approach.

As is often the case, however, pioneers will benefit from an advantage when the practice is widespread. Are you a construction professional and want to enter the BIM era? Are you a business leader considering real estate investments or infrastructure changes? Don't hesitate to contact the Ryax team to analyze how we can help you with our SaaS solutions.

The Ryax Team.

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