Civil engineers are changing the world we live in and they were always in search of a technological advancement which could revolutionize the efficiency and productivity with which they worked. It was in the wake of the 21st century, the whole concept of BIM came in at first. Ever since it has been a reliable partner for designers and engineers. BIM has truly affected the way we build, the way we managed buildings and a lot more.
Before getting into the details let us first understand the word BIM.
What is BIM?
The word BIM stands for “Building Information Model” The textbook definition of BIM would sound somewhat like this “Building information modelling is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places”. Not at all appealing right? Which is why I decided to go ahead with a story to explain BIM.
Let us go back 25 years in time, you are a multi-billionaire and you need to construct a pretty big skyscraper with 60 floors. You go to a general contractor and he directs me (Who is an engineer) to you, I ask all your plans and requirements and leaves. A month later I come to you with 120 sheets of design drawings (Considering the very basic count of 2 drawings per floor). I begin ranting on and on about how these lines running from all ends of the paper in every possible direction (2D in technical words) Is how your building is going to be. You need to remind yourself that these 120 drawings are just the architectural drawings. There are a lot more drawings like structural drawings, MEP drawings, HVAC drawings and a lot more to come. Seems gruelling right? Just imagine how much work and manpower must have been put into the drawings?
Ok, now let’s come back to 2018 and you still are a multi-billionaire who survived the global economic crisis (LOL). You need to build a skyscraper with 60 floors and you have very big plans for it. You approach a general contractor who directs me (Still an engineer) to you. Things start changing here onwards. I will talk to you and come back in a shorter time than I did 25 years back with just a Laptop and yeah maybe a projector too. I show you a 3D model on how the building is going to look like when it is finished. You can see the building from all possible angles and ask me to make all the changes you want (This was the architectural part of the discussions that happened). I come back to you again in a month with the same laptop and now I show you an Intelligent 3D model, when I say intelligent I mean you can virtually walk around the building to see the exteriors, You can climb up the 60 floors (Virtually) and see how the building looks from above, You can walk inside the building, see what kind of furniture are the designers suggesting, see where the rooms are all going to be, see the paints the walls are going to have, see where the lightings are going to be, see how the interiors and exteriors look at any given time of the day. In short, you can have a virtual tour of the building even before the construction has begun.
The 2nd one looks quite fascinating, right? Now have a look at the dorky textbook definition of BIM, in the first part of this section. Ring any bells? Yeah, you got it right. The second story is what, in short, is called a Building Information Model. Now you might have understood it is called BIM for a reason. Every aspect of the building Architectural, Structural, MEP, HVAC are pre modelled. Don’t you think this would make the life of engineers and architects a lot easier? Save precious time? Save resources? Facilitate better planning?
Types of BIM models:
This is an intelligent 3D model encompassing all the parts of construction viz; architectural, structural, MEP, HVAC, and so on. 3D model can be termed the basic model. The required 2D drawings required can be easily extracted from the 3D model with a single click.
4D means adding the 4th dimension of time to the 3D BIM model. Adding the parameter time simply means that the model can predict the progress of work that has to happen on any day. This feature benefits the building owners and project managers as they can compare the present progress of a work that’s happening against the pre-defined model.
When it comes to 5D BIM an additional parameter of Cost is modelled to the 4D model. This enables generation of accurate cost estimates from the components of the information model this process that is known as 5D BIM.
Taking an additional step forward by linking the attribute data to the 5D BIM model gives the 6D BIM model. 6D BIM model facilitates asset management and building asset operation.
Is BIM a software?
NO, IT IS NOT. BIM is not a software rather it’s an integrated process for creating and managing all the information on a project which involves information before the project, during the project and after the project. BIM is not just another 3D model rather it is an intelligent model and hence while doing BIM communication and collaboration among the different parties such as Architects, Structural engineers, Design engineers, MEP engineers and others are important. The huge amount of information generated from a BIM requires proper communication among all the parties to avoid confusions.
Is BIM widely used?
Yeas BIM is widely being used in countries like USA, UK, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Singapore, France, China, South Korea etc. Most among these countries have made BIM mandatory in construction projects and have devised a specific set of standards unique to each country.
What are the tools used in BIM?
There are a lot of BIM modelling software packages available. Let us go through some of them Revit, Navisworks, Autodesk BIM 360, SketchUp, Tekla BIMsight, Procore, Dassault Systèmes, BIM Trimble Connect, AECOsim Building Designer, Hevacomp, BIMobject, BIMx, Archicad, Vectorworks Architect, PriMus IFC, Edificius, Midas Gen, Allplan Architecture, Buildertrend, BricsCAD BIM. These are not just it, but a few widely used software packages for BIM modelling.