The concept of Building Information Management (BIM) has been around since the 1960s and the term since the 1990s. However, it has only been in the last 10 years that architects and engineers have used BIM consistently. A quick description of BIM is three-dimensional software that enables professionals to develop a digital representation and functional characteristics of a project. Since its widespread adoption, BIM has had a disruptive effect on people inside and outside of the building trades.
BIM at Work
The fields of construction and architecture can now be divided into two camps, those who embrace BIM and those who do not. With the latter group, the choice is not always theirs. This is particularly true with older workers. Management may have decided it would take too long to train them for the limited number of years they would use BIM on the job. They may also assign them to other tasks where they won’t need to use the tools that BIM offers. When workers do have a choice, they often come to the same conclusions. Unfortunately, this can lead others to perceive them as being inflexible and belonging to a work culture that is no longer relevant.
Today’s Foreman Looks a Bit Different
In previous decades, it was common to see the foreman of a job site walking through with a stack of blueprints in hand. Thanks to BIM technology, a foreman can easily access anything he or she needs on an iPad tablet. When it first came to prominence, engineers and architects were the primary users of BIM. Now that general contractors and contractors have gotten on board as well, it allows for even greater collaboration on projects.
How BIM Has Improved the Building Industry
While increased collaboration is perhaps the best known benefit of BIM, it’s far from the only one. Here are some other ways that BIM has been a game changer:
- Better mapping tools and higher quality images allows engineers, architects, and contractors to create a more realistic model for planning purposes.
- With the automatic back-up feature, there is no worry about a disastrous loss of data. BIM also tracks the complete project history so a new person can step into the project at any time and know exactly what is happening.
- A shared model eliminates the need for duplication of drawings and re-work, saving both time and money. The automated counting of building components saves significant time and labor costs.
- The simulation tools in BIM software enable designers to imagine different scenarios, such as the way sunlight hits the building during all four seasons or its expected energy efficiency. By inputting rules into each new design, building teams can control everything from the angle of windows to the ideal indoor temperature. This eliminates costly errors once construction gets under way.
These are just some of the many ways that BIM has caused widespread disruption that will ultimately benefit architects, engineers, construction foreman, and clients in the development process. As blueprints give way to tablets, the digital transformation of construction will bring the industry greater efficiency and reliability.