Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software
to Improve Construction Project Efficiencies
January 21, 2021
Building information modeling software (BIM) is commonly thought of as simply a way to generate detailed digital 3D models. But that’s like using a smartphone just to make phone calls. To fully appreciate all that BIM has to offer, we need to move beyond any one-dimensional views of this technology. Only a true life cycle BIM solution can offer opportunities for improved efficiencies throughout your build.
Here are some must-have features to look for and improvements to look forward to with the help of the right BIM technology solution:
A production tool that saves cost, time and effort
Being over budget and behind schedule occurs with all-too frequently in construction. How do you prevent this from happening? Start with BIM to create every phase of the virtual design before work begins on the job site. At this early stage, you’ll be able to change up details, mitigate potential risks and correct errors — saving the headache, lost time and sunk costs of any future alterations after the build has begun.
One aspect of building information modeling software that is particularly beneficial is its clash detection abilities. How many times have you begun construction only to find an overlooked bottleneck, such as a rolled steel joist directly in the path of a plumbing pipe? Adjusting the BIM to correct these hard clashes in the pre-build design phase is what can help prevent future change orders and keeps the budget closest to the original cost and schedule estimates.
In fact, BIM actually helps you create more precise cost estimates too. How? It’s during the creation and fine-tuning of the design that you can link critical data associated with each element — such as unit costs and quantities for labor, materials and equipment. BIM can then perform automatic calculations using this data, saving you much of the time, effort and inherent risks of manual entry. The result is more accurate numbers than 2D-based processes can provide. So, your cost estimates will have a higher degree of certainty and a more reliable basis on which to gauge and act on any future deviations.
After work has begun at the job site, building information modeling software allows you the flexibility to continue exploring how to make any “what if” modifications to materials or designs so you can assess their impact on the budget, schedule, job site safety, and the surrounding environment.
A true collaboration and communication platform
We all know lack of communication is often cited as the biggest reason construction projects endure what should have been avoidable mistakes that undermine established budgets and schedules. But with the right building information modeling software, you can gain a platform to communicate ongoing updates and last-minute changes in real time through automatic push notifications. And that can help avert potential project crises.
This platform also sets the scene for improved collaboration. Because a BIM model contains so much information in a common data environment (CDE) — essentially its own single source of project data truth — it streamlines collaborative relationships among all the construction disciplines because they are all accessing and interacting with the same data. It creates a transparent environment in which to ask questions, share comments and discuss solutions as a team.
Post-build efficiencies in operations, maintenance and modifications
BIM’s ability to improve efficiencies doesn’t stop when the build is closed out and turned over. Even years later, building owners will be able to rely on the treasure trove of data within BIM as part of their facilities management strategy. This is a more recent development as owners, seeing the benefit the technology brings to improving operations, begin to adopt it.
The integration of so much actual data into the model directly supports managing the facility itself, including routine preventive maintenance, and repairs to anything that becomes damaged or malfunctions. When facility staff have access to BIM data — from manufacturer warranties to material longevity to replacement costs — it increases their job efficiencies and helps them proactively control maintenance costs. This happens when BIM data is recorded and evaluated during the early design stages, when building owners and contractors are making informed decisions about materials and equipment to invest in that yield the best life cycle ROI.
Are you anticipating future building modifications and improvements? BIM will remain for you an invaluable tool. Its highly detailed 3D-modeling capabilities will help you visualize how renovation options would look and what the corresponding costs could be. Not only that, but BIM can show the exact location of equipment and systems that may be impacted and the required alteration or retrofitting within often hidden areas of the structure.
When you consider the amount of detail that must go into any capital project or complex build, the opportunity for errors goes up, leading to more inefficient uses of your human resources, dollars and time. With the right BIM solution, there’s no need to leave your project to chance like that. Implementing building information modeling on day one helps dramatically reduce such risks.
We invite you to explore our own BIM solution, InEight Model. It’s powerful enough to consolidate the seemingly endless data your large-scale projects generate into an accessible CDE, and versatile enough to optimize your team’s decision-making, collaboration and overall efficiency. Let our team take you through a demo so you can experience it for yourself.