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What is BIM?

BIM view of a building including detailed frame and MEP structures

Definition of BIM (Building Information Modelling)

“With BIM (Building Information Modeling) 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 realized.”

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

The construction software for collaboration and information management

The “I” for information in BIM is an extremely significant letter. 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 asset information.

In the UK BIM has been required on centrally-procured public projects since April 2016. This was defined as a fully collaborative 3D BIM with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic. When the UK BIM standards were replaced by the suite of International Standards this mandate was changed to be ‘BIM in accordance with ISO 19650’ and further reinforced, in September 2021, with the publication of the Information Management (IM) Mandate within the Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) programme by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA).  

BIM technology

BIM involves the automation of the use of information – the creation of information became automated when CAD arrived. From 3D model software, BIM asks for accuracy and capability to handle lots of information, and in practice to provide compatibility with other solutions to achieve a collaborative workflow.  With Tekla structural software you can work with the Open BIM approach and create truly constructible models for efficient model-based workflows.

Building Information Model on SiteVision at construction site

Benefits of BIM for the whole construction workflow

Companies that utilize BIM, like Skanska and Barton Malow, have reported benefits for project management, scheduling, estimation and risk analysis, more collaborative processes and better facility management. A model-based workflow brings the opportunity to try out solutions in advance before building the structure on site: with a constructible model, the structure can be prototyped virtually. Project parties can understand and review the design, its accuracy and completeness more easily. It is also easier to visualize and evaluate the cost, time, build programs, logistics and other project parameters. BIM is proven to improve communication between project parties and generally better build quality.

BIM is more than visual 3D

All construction software models and drawings representing a building are not BIM, for example, 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 requirements that the data can be used for supporting the design, analysis, procurement, fabrication, construction and operation of a built asset.

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Tekla's open approach to BIM

Constructibility: Modeling for construction, not only for drawings or 3D models