Building Information Modeling (BIM) is one of the fastest growing tools in construction.

Its popularity stems from its ability to keep all information relevant to a building project in the same place. From a building’s design to its delivery, any data relevant to a project is connected, building a complete digital description rather than a set of separate drawings.

BIM System Layers

There are many layers to a BIM system. At its core is software that allows for 3D modeling and information management. Though this core is very important, it is only the beginning.

The true advantage of BIM comes from its ability to facilitate effective communication between all parties involved in a building project and incorporate information from all stages of a project’s lifecycle. This easy access to reliable data allows for better decision making throughout a facility’s life.

BIM acts as a repository for information created during a building’s design, build, and operations. It also allows users to define and simulate a building’s structure, delivery, and operations.

Information Storage & Sharing

BIM allows all team members to access and share the same information throughout the building process. This eliminates the risk of data loss, miscommunication, and redundancy. The information contained in such a model can also be cross-referenced. For example, an object used in a model may be linked to a photo, manual, or warranty information. Not only is this useful during the design and building stages, it is also extremely beneficial after a facility is handed over.

Considerations

Despite its numerous advantages, there are problems that anyone interested in implementing a BIM system must consider. Viewing the model can be an issue, especially while in the field. A subcontractor may be required to download and install software in order to view the model. The files associated with these models can quickly become quite large (often exceeding 50MB). Files of this size can’t be sent by email.

It may also become difficult to determine when a full set of information has been reached to hand over to a facility’s owner. Finally, the amount of information included in this type of modeling can be overwhelming if a recipient is not familiar with the system’s use.

An Eye to the Future

Although BIM opens up some potential problems, on balance it is a highly effective tool for storing and sharing information relevant to a building project. Its popularity is likely to continue growing in the future.

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