What is BIM?

“With BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology, one or more accurate virtual models of a building are constructed digitally. They support design through its phases, allowing better analysis and control than manual processes. When completed, these computer-generated models contain precise geometry and data needed to support the construction, fabrication, and procurement activities through which the building is realised.”

This definition of Building Information Modelling in the Handbook of BIM (Eastman, Teicholz, Sacks & Liston 2011) encompasses a lot, starting from a technology to embracing the whole construction process.

Collaboration and information management

At Tekla, we believe that the “I” – the information – in BIM is the most important part. In the UK, the Government BIM Task Group published its first report in 2011. Within this they identified that "Government as a client can derive significant improvements in cost, value and carbon performance through the use of open sharable assett information".

Historically project teams have not always been good at, or able to share information in a meaningful way. Drawings can only ever be snap shots of specific parts of the project design and so there have always been gaps. A recent report by WRAP, the Waste Resource Action Programme, highlighted that typically “waste management and disposal cost the industry the equivalent of 30% of pre-tax profits”. However, waste in the construction industry comes in many forms. Recreating data, with the additional risk of making errors, creates lots of sources of hidden waste where construction professionals duplicate work carried out by other members of the project team. BIM aims to eradicate this waste as well as delivering projects that are not only more efficient to build but also to operate.   

BIM technology

A key advantage of working with BIM workflows is the automatic generation of information – the creation of accurate and reusable data that can be shared around the project team. Of equal importance is the need for all the software used on a project to work with each other. This is where interoperability between software packages is key. Tekla has chosen Open BIM and buildable models as we want to make great BIM workflows achievable for our customers.

Why BIM?

Companies that utilise BIM, like Caunton Engineering and Midland Steel, have reported benefits right across their business activities; in design, estimating, risk analysis and both internal and external collaborative processes.

  • BIM allows for construction rehearsals – the scheme can be built numerous times virtually to ensure its built right first time on site.
  • Stakeholder engagement is improved as schemes modelled in 3D are easy to share, can be detailed more accurately, and show the complete solution.
  • Data can be displayed in numerous ways and in a form that makes most sense to the audience.
  • Data flows need to be bi-directional, changes in schedules must create updates in the model and visa versa, otherwise it risks considerable room for error.

True BIM allows all parties to engage through the use of agreed processes to develop a coordinated scheme that meets the needs of the customer.

What is BIM?

BIM is not everywhere

All models representing a building are not BIM, for example those models that contain only visual 3D data but no object attributes, or those that allow changes to dimensions in one view but do not automatically reflect those changes in other views. These examples miss the above-mentioned data for supporting the construction, fabrication, and procurement.