Benefiting from BIM: What are the priorities for development?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been a hot topic across the industry for a decade, receiving increasing attention recently due to UK Government mandates for its use across centrally-procured public projects by 2016. The policy was published in the Government Construction Strategy in May 2011 with the aim of delivering projects quicker, cheaper and with lower carbon.

There is currently no movement towards setting a Government target date for BIM level 3, however benefits from BIM implementation are already being felt across the industry. Design teams are experiencing enhance time-efficiencies and increase profitability on projects through improved collaboration, visualisation, coordination and information retrieval. Manufacturers can provide accurate, information-rich BIM objects which can be thoroughly integrated into the BIM, facilitating optimum placement and utilisation of their product, persistence of specification through the project and correct maintenance across a building’s life. For clients, design outcomes can be modelled and confirmed at the briefing and design stages enabling the maximisation of the lifetime performance of a building and greater efficiencies to be delivered.

However, BIM also presents a plethora of unexploited potential for the industry and further discussion centred on priorities for enhancing BIM capabilities:

Key findings:

  • The lack of a single, end-to-end tool for design-constructor-operation creates many software coordination issues that translate into time and cost inefficiencies and prevents the full potential of BIM being realised.
  • Jason Clark, Director of UBS, says,“BIM would benefit from a larger input from the facilities managers as a professional body going forward”, to help create the ‘pull factor’ when it comes to post-completion BIM. The industry needs their expertise on how to maximize the benefit for BIM in operation so as to facilitate the interoperability between Revit, CAFM (Computer-Aided Facilities Management) and CMMS tools.
  • The BIM process much be streamlined; Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manuals often get left on the shelf or underused as they are lengthy and seldom user friendly.
  • BIM post-completion could also facilitate life cycle planning, allowing designers to check the model for any likely consequences to refurbishment strategies; for example to be able to validate whether or not the extraction of a chiller would have any detrimental effects on building performance.
  • If cable management platforms could be federated into a BIM model, this would enable landlords, owners or operators to understand how the space inside a building is being used, by monitoring the usage of computers and other equipment; leading to some useful insights and information upon which to reduce energy performance.
  • Synchronisation of datasets must be improved to decrease the resources needed to verify successive alterations through the model.
  • As the industry generates and records more and more BIM and energy monitoring data, “there are huge opportunities for creating feedback and analysis loops between BIM, energy modelling and energy monitoring” says Brian Coffey, Principle Research Associate at UCL and Head of Research at BuildLab. Another area of priority for BIM, therefore, is to develop the interfaces with various energy modelling programmes so as to encourage these types of feedback loops.

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