What is Building Information Modeling (BIM) and what changes does it entail?
Digitization is changing the way buildings are planned, built, used and managed. Building Information Modeling allows to increase quality and transparency as well as cost and schedule security of construction projects. A brief overview shows exactly what BIM is and what changes it entails.
What is BIM?
Building Information Modeling, BIM for short, describes a method for the optimized planning, execution and administration of building objects with the help of appropriate software. All relevant building data is recorded digitally and the building is visualized as a "digital twin". Spatial structure, components and attributes (e.g. component type, materials used, physical properties, equipment, time and costs) are mapped and managed over the entire life cycle.
- Simplified coordination:BIM brings all those involved in the project together on one platform as early as the planning phase, thus saving many coordination steps.
- Efficiency:Quick access to detailed building data for all parties involved enables efficient cooperation between planners and building owners right through to building technicians and facility managers.
- Transparency:With BIM, every change or correction is automatically implemented in the entire construction plan and is transparent and comprehensible for all parties involved thanks to the common database. Changes have an immediate effect on parts lists, delivery dates and construction costs, for example. Components or services of the individual companies can also be reassembled or replaced by new suppliers as if in a modular system.
- Flexibility:Functions can be simulated and tested in the virtual model, errors and inconsistencies can be detected early and eliminated easily. For example, it can be estimated at the planning stage whether an additional door will affect future evacuation scenarios, comfort or heating costs.
- Life cycle:Building Information Modeling is not only used in the construction industry for construction planning and execution (architecture, engineering, building services, civil engineering, urban planning, railway construction, road construction, hydraulic engineering, geotechnics), but also in ongoing operations and facility management.
Construction planning with BIM can thus open up considerable potential for improving quality and efficiency in the construction and usage process. This requires a responsible handling of the data, an open dialogue between all participants and the willingness to get involved with BIM as a new method.
BIM becomes a competitive factor
According to a study, the global market for BIM applications will amount to around USD 11.5 billion in 2022. This corresponds to a fourfold increase compared to 2014 (USD 2.7 billion). Other important results of the study are as follows:
- BIM will increasingly become the standard for the entire construction industry.
- Those construction companies that do not use BIM run the risk of suffering competitive disadvantages in the future.
- The lack of access to the BIM system forces companies out of the market in the medium term, as they are not visible on this platform and the coordination process with them is time-consuming and costly.
As a platform for the construction industry, BIM could thus become what Amazon is to the retail trade - a disruptive innovation. Decision makers in the construction industry should therefore look at BIM.
New business models in the construction industry
The digitization of the construction industry through BIM applications also means that business relationships are changing. Architects and planners can, for example, contact building material manufacturers and service providers directly. General contractors and builders' merchants will thus significantly lose influence. As a result, retailers should rethink their business models and position themselves on the market, for example, as providers of modular construction kits for integrated building material solutions.
Change of internal company processes
BIM is not software, but a method. The successful use of BIM software only works if the working methods and the cooperation of all project participants change. The introduction of BIM therefore necessitates changes to internal and cross-company processes. Since BIM is not usually immediately implementable, a step-by-step transition in an optimizing process makes sense. Accordingly, a distinction is made between different technological stages and project management forms.
Depending on the software solution used, the implementation of BIM can generally be divided into Open BIM and Closed BIM processes:
- Open BIM process:With the open strategy, the choice of software products is free, but the project partners coordinate themselves on a planning platform. Manufacturer-neutral open data formats are used, which enable data exchange between products from different manufacturers.
- Closed BIM process:With the closed procedure, all planning participants work with the same software in one model. A problem with this variant can be that trade-specific model requirements cannot always be mapped due to the uniform planning software.
In addition to closed BIM and open BIM processes, the terms little BIM and big BIM make a further distinction.
- Little BIM: At little BIM, a BIM software is used by a single planner for his specific planning. The BIM solution is used as an isolated solution in the specific field of activity of a specialist planner and communication with the outside world continues to be based on drawings. Efficiency gains can be achieved with little BIM, but the potential of a consistent use of digital building information remains untapped.
- Big BIM:In this variant, a collaborative, multidisciplinary model-based communication takes place between all participants over all life cycle phases of a building. Data exchange and coordination take place via Internet platforms and database solutions.
The combinations of all four terms result in the matrix shown, which illustrates the different forms of BIM project management:
Source: vbw-Studie Digitales Planen und Bauen Schwerpunkt BIM, S. 22, nach: Hausknecht und Liebich, 2016
Degree of implementation: BIM level and BIM dimensions
The switch to Building Information Modeling - as already mentioned - cannot be carried out from one day to the next in the construction industry. Instead, it makes sense to gradually introduce this technology. The BIM maturity model of the British BIM Task Group defines four different stages of implementation and shows the progress of the cooperation of all project participants.
- BIM Level 0: Conventional working with 2D-CAD and exchange of paper-printed plans.
- BIM Level 1: Creation of 2D drawings as well as 3-D models for critical areas; no specifications for data formats; no central project platform; data exchange by sending individual files.
- BIM Level 2: Continuous use of 3D-BIM by all participants; specialist planners generate their own, independent models, which are regularly compared; data exchange is based on the exchange of files (manufacturer-specific formats).
- BIM-Level 3:Integrated digital model over the entire life cycle; central data management via cloud server; ISO standards for data exchange and process description (BIG Open BIM).
Source: BIM-Reifegrad, Building Information Modeling, Seite 10, Borrmann, König, Koch, Beetz Hrsg.
In addition to the defined BIM levels 0 to 3, the degree of implementation of Building Information Modeling is also categorized according to the BIM dimensions.
- 3D model: Three-dimensional model of a building with geometric, physical properties and functional attributes.
- 4D model: 3D model of the structure with time schedule and associated execution processes (time), creation of 4D construction sequence simulations.
- 5D model: 4D model with cost plan and calculation information, time-dependent representation of the cost development in the construction project.
- 6D model: Consideration of life cycle aspects (building management, demolition, sustainability).
- 7D model:Linking the building model with operational data (increasing the traceability of maintenance and repair measures, improving sustainability, facility management tools).
Source: BIM Dimensionen, Höflich & Maier Consult GmbH, 60596 Frankfurt
Conclusion: BIM Austria's need to catch up
BIM is currently one of the most important aspects of digital change in the construction industry. It lays the foundation for the digitalization and automation of construction production itself. However, BIM does not only mean the use of digital instruments, but leads to a digital transformation of the company, which requires an adaptation of processes and working methods. According to the survey results of the Austrian BIM Report 2017, 28 percent of companies in Austria currently use the BIM method. In comparison with the USA, which achieves usage rates of 90 percent, Austria is still in its infancy.
Please also read our blog on this topic "Bau 2019: These 4 trends move the construction industry".
Studie „Digitales Planen und Bauen – Schwerpunkt BIM“, Prof. Borrmann, Prof. Lang und Prof. Petzold (TUM), Stand Januar: 2018, www.vbw-bayern.de
Österreichischer BIM Bericht 2017, Repräsentative Umfrage in österreichischen Unternehmen zu Nutzen, Chancen und Risiken von BIM, Hrsg. Univ. Prof. DI Dr. techn. Arnold Tautschnig, Univ.-Ass. DI Dr. techn. Georg Fröch, Senior Lecturer DI. Werner Gächter
Building Information Modeling, Technologische Grundlagen und industrielle Praxis; Borrmann, A., König, M., Koch, C., Beetz, J. (Hrsg.)
Studie „Disruptive impact of Building Information Modelling“, Roland Berger, 2017
Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.