A democratic kind of BIM

  • Building Design Expert
  • 5 years ago

BIM is Broadway In the Making. At least there’s another acronym that we can apply. Just at this moment it’s in rehearsals, assured in the knowledge that there is so much on offer, that when that big break comes it cannot fail to be  that box office success. But until then we need to keep on working on the well written parts just to get them as good as they can be. That was the message put across at the recent CIC sponsored BIM Regional Hub workshop.

The message is clear and unblinding in it’s efforts to say that we are definitely not there yet, with a feeling that even by 2016 there will not be a system that project leaders can ‘buy into’ that has all of it’s ducks in a row.

BIM Diversions
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is not new. The construction industry has been in an elliptical orbit around planet BIM for a decade or so. Just when we thought we were getting close, the thrusters went on a more critical path leading away from that all important touchdown. CAD was probably a good example of that. The early days of CAD, some fifteen or so years ago, really gave us a new way of working. It offered the potential to incorporate more information, whether drawn or annotated, within a similar time frame to that used for the old traditional methods of information production. But that really didn’t happen. Instead we used the fact that once up to speed with the software, we were able to work faster, altering drawings in a couple of mouse clicks, or so; and take on larger and more lucrative projects. One person was able to produce the same amount of ‘traditional’ type information as two or three did previously by hand. So that’s the way it went; productivity won the day, and of course we all regretted it because clients became used to the idea that project design could be delivered so much faster. The bite on the bum came in an ultimate reduction in fee scales; admittedly with other contributors along the way.

“Planet BIM” and “Soft Landings…”
The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), over the last few years have developed their ‘Soft Landings’ approach to project development, implementation, and importantly the aftercare from the design team that is intended to smooth out the abruptly halted, or at best, lumpy learning curve of a new building in use. This of course teases out one of the core principles sought after as part of the BIM jigsaw; – that of providing sufficiently detailed information for the immediate and long term benefit of the building owners and managers. But the Soft Landings model requires a high degree of knowledgeable input from the client. So clients that do not have their own construction, or property departments will find this difficult to implement; so this is unfortunately not a BIM4All chapter.

“BIM is NOT 3D CAD – but it’s a start…”
There are a lot of ‘blue faced’ individuals who have been telling us that BIM is not just a 3D CAD package. Although the dictat is still that, the message is to get on with the process of pulling Your BIM together in any way you can. If that means assembling a design team that is able, and more importantly willing to conspire to produce a fully co-ordinated 3D building model. One incorporating the architectural, structural and services designs, and nothing else, for now; then that amounts to a knighthood as a BIM Hero relative to the current bar level. Okay, so you can do that then, but bear in mind that this is only BIM at ‘Level 1’, and 2016 is looking for BIM ‘level 2’.

There is an argument doing the rounds that ‘BIM’ can be successfully executed using 2D drafting, even hand drafted drawings on tracing paper can in theory cut it. Although it must be said, this is a very tall order and will only ever equate to BIM ‘level 0’.

As with most computer based processes the initial input of data is unlikely to be faster than by hand, and it could even take longer, but alterations and updating across the project spectrum take a fraction of the time. So a one hundred percent computer based system, with a three dimensional model at its heart is most certainly the unequivocal future.

The above diagram is published as part of PAS 1192 and indicates the requirements for each level of BIM, with the red line indicating the government target threshold of level 2 by 2016

BIM to survive
CIC and government are passionate about three headings. These unusually do not try and tell us what BIM IS, but go to significant lengths to tell us what BIM is NOT:

  • BIM is Not 3D
  • BIM is Not just new technology
  • BIM is Not next generation – because it is here now

The BIM acronym has been, and will continue to be corrupted to read in many different ways. “Better Information Management” is one of the latest. For me the word “Better” is too weak. You might as well say that Bentley is ‘better’ than Revit. It’s  too opinion based. I listened to a very knowledgeable mechanical engineer recently, who expounded the ideal of “Total Information Management”. “Total” or “Better” you choose. We might be dealing in mere semantics, but it’s their role in conveying that global message that remains the key.

So ostensibly the government are driving this. At the heart of the bigger picture is carbon reduction and our European obligation to avoid an incredibly large fine. As altruistic as the various mantras sound before you open the book, you don’t need to turn too many pages to find a heavy financial implication lurking a chapter or so in.

The aims are simple: First and foremost is the implementation of level 2 BIM by 2016 on all government projects, and preferably more. Hand in glove with this are improvements in –

  • Project cost – targeted at 20% savings
  • Carbon reduction
  • Greater use of ‘Open shared asset information’

To this end the government’s BIM Task Group are promoting two significant documents:

  • COBie – Construction Operations Building information exchange
  • PAS 1192– Building Information Management – Information requirements for the capital delivery phase of construction projectsBoth well written and very useful documents in their own right, but not of particular use right now to the smaller players, as the smaller players do not exist in this league. The BIM Task Group are saying this will work for anybody. Ultimately they will be right because it will be for everybody, a democratic kind of BIM, but I suspect not all at the same time.

In the video below Paul Morrell describes the current views and attitudes on Building Information Modelling.

Interview with Paul Morrell

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