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The evolution of BIM in the built environment

Gary Meichan, Director of Design at SPIE, takes a look at the evolution of BIM in the built environment beyond the foundation of 3D modeling.

The digital transformation of the built environment sector over the past few decades has led to significant advances in building design, construction and management, as well as infrastructure maintenance systems.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become particularly noteworthy in recent years as a model that enables contractors and project developers to create an accurate digital footprint from which to make informed decisions to improve management, energy use, and refurbishment of physical assets.

But many are still unaware of the sophisticated and important use cases of BIM models that actively showcase the transformative nature of the technology. Here’s how the landscape is evolving today.

Visualize BIM in 4D

While 3D models are the basis for BIM models, graphical representations derived from related technologies can transcend dimensional variables in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the time-based processes involved in regeneration. These BIM models are often called “4D BIM”, because they help highlight potential problems by introducing time variables inherent in the build schedule to the digital model.

In particular, 4D BIM can help construction teams and project managers to visualize and identify common issues such as asynchronous work, lead times, build and installation lead times. This becomes particularly useful when managing scheduling conflicts between stakeholders and interdependencies, which are often critical to project success. Such a model can then enable project stakeholders to stick to a more precise project schedule, which will help manage delay risks.

BIM models can extend even further up to 7D BIM, where additional variables built into the models include cost, project lifecycle information, and building lifecycle data. For example, 5D BIM, which integrates building design with scheduling and costing, was an integral part of SPIE UK’s three-year framework contract with the University of Dundee to deliver a significant amount of complex mechanical engineering work.

The contract required the replacement of existing steam systems necessary to operate the main faculty building, which required advanced BIM technologies to reduce downtime for the learning facilities. One building in particular served laboratories with ongoing medical research, many of which had been in operation for years, which required the maintenance of live steam throughout the building’s new installation of steam boilers.

By utilizing 5D BIM capabilities, SPIE UK has been able to accurately identify each stage of the delivery process, showing where the temporary systems will be installed and how downtime will be minimized. The use of BIM also allowed for a level of pricing accuracy that would have been impossible with conventional designs.

Increase efficiency through data centralization and sharing

The importance of data sharing was clearly highlighted by the passing of the Government Building Safety Act (2022) earlier this year. In accordance with recommendations previously made in the Building a Safer Future Report by Ms. Judith Hackett, the Act introduces the concept of a “golden thread” of record keeping, which will be made available to relevant stakeholders regardless of what stage they are at in the building’s history.

During the project handover phase, BIM build data should typically be stored in a single location to enable easy handover to facility managers while they are in charge of on-site maintenance and operations. This enables relevant stakeholders to always have access to the information they need, which can be integrated into their own systems without any loss or inaccuracy, resulting in a clear picture of what is installed, how it should work and the associated cost.

Reduce downtime in existing facilities

When embarking on a project, the built environment professionals at all stages of the project, from design to construction and site management, will share and use data across the stages in order to inform the facility’s future operations.

However, building data can be improperly transmitted or not fully delivered during each stage of a building’s life cycle, with knowledge gaps and errors piling up which will directly affect the building’s ability to function as intended and prevent it from being managed in the best possible way. road.

The downtime associated with renovation in any building requires careful handling as it can directly impact the stakeholders involved, whether the impact is financial or otherwise. With structures specifically designed for public use, the implications require major consideration because downtime doesn’t just affect building owners. This highlights the importance of a BIM modeling approach that can generate highly accurate simulations that take into account a large number of variables.

Therefore, the correct construction the first time becomes very important to avoid the problem of repair work later to achieve regulatory compliance. Building Information Modeling (BIM) can enable organizations to manage these requirements and reduce costs in both the delivery and operation phases by virtualizing proposed facilities, designs and systems as appropriate. Projects can be visualized at an early stage, giving stakeholders certainty about cost and improving satisfaction early in the project delivery process, as well as the operational stages, while reducing downside risks.

Gary Mekhan

design manager

SPIE UK

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