Moving forward with Building Information Modelling (BIM)

With the implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) gathering increasing momentum and the Government’s initiative to migrate the construction industries current working practices over to new, more efficient ways of working through the use of open information, the phased transition to BIM introduces significant challenges to all involved within the construction sector.

The UK Government has introduced a mandate identifying the requirement for publicly procured projects to utilise BIM level 2 by 2016, a requirement that will be closely followed by the private sector.

The public and private sectors can derive all of the benefits that BIM can deliver with regard to the reduction in time, cost and environmental impact of buildings and facilities through the development of fully integrated, collaborative working techniques and through the use of technological applications.

BIM Processes and Technology

Complete integration between Architects, Structural Engineers, Engineers, contractors and their sub-contractors is essential in order for BIM to succeed. Responsibility for the design stage of a project remain with the Architects, Structural Engineers and Consultants and for the construction stage with Builders, contractors and specialists and it is essential that the combining and managing of BIM data between the business partners is managed in as efficient a manner as possible. The main challenges lie in the integration of modelling data between the design and construction phases, between the consultant and contractor.

Collaborative working provides a solid foundation to the BIM process, complemented by the application of fully integrated software solutions. Integrated working through the use of software can be achieved by either the adoption of all parties involved in a process using the same platform or by achieving a high level of interoperability between parties adopting a platform independent approach. Both solutions are applicable to BIM, in both the design and construction phases, but no one solution has a significant advantage over the other, if implemented correctly. BuildingSMART is working to support BIM interoperability through the development of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC’s) to support the exchange of BIM data across multiple platforms, ensuring data can be efficiently exchanged throughout the project life-cycle.  Designers, contractors and sub-contractors must work hand-in-hand to eliminate the production of duplicate, redundant data, working together to ensure that data is exchanged from one stage to the next efficiently, building on modelling data from the previous phase of the BIM chain, as opposed to reproducing it.

A variety of BIM software exists to support a variety of workflows. If an Architect is using Revit, one solution would be for the Structural and MEP Engineers to use Revit Structure and MEP respectively. This single platform solution fits the design section of the construction process well but is only applicable if an Architect is using Revit Architecture, as the utilisation of an Architectural model is imperative in order to obtain the full benefits from Structural and Engineering Revit implementations.

Further software integration between the design and construction phases is then also required. Transitioning between a Revit model and fabrication software, typically Autodesk Fabrication CADmep is required to allow installation teams to further develop the model for installation and fabrication whilst ensuring that 3D model geometry and data is efficiently transferred over to the construction model. Certainly the introduction of Autodesk Fabrication FABmep is a step in the right direction toward integrating the Revit based and AutoCAD (CADmep) based workflows, that will be improved through the customisation of Revit and Revit families to make the cross-over as efficient as possible, whilst maintaining object and data integrity.

Alternative workflows need to be developed for the independent platform approach at the design stage. Not all Architects ,Structural Engineers or consultants will want to pursue the Revit route due to the fact that alternative software applications may suit their business needs better, they think alternative applications are superior or they have invested a significant amount of time and money into staff and developing an application to suit their particular requirements. In this case, from an MEP perspective, Architectural and Structural models would again be integrated with Autodesk Fabrication CADmep software for the 3D MEP model to be produced.

Integrated and collaborative working can be supported in all cases by the use of coordination review software. The industry leading Navisworks provides a sound solution for project review, clash management and 3D coordination analysis. Tekla BIMsight, available to all users at no cost, can only help promote collaborative working and give full access to a 3D model to all construction partners and building owners, who may not have previously had access to such software.

KEcad

KEcad are dedicated to working towards the development of BIM and are continually working to improve workflows, software integration, processes and best working practice techniques. Although BIM brings with it a certain level of complexity, we are dedicated to making the BIM process as simple as possible, whilst utilising all of the benefits that can be achieved through the use of collaborative Building Information Modelling.

If you would like to discuss BIM please contact our CAD Manager Dale Goody by email at dale.goody@kecad.co.uk or by calling 0191 491 3709.

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