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BIM: Bringing a “sea change to the industry’s workflow”
BIM or Building Information Modeling is bringing about new methodologies and possibilities for all the industry players, from designers and contractors through to citizens, end users, communities and public authorities.
Following an EU directive in 2014 recommending the use of electronic tools such as building information electronic modelling for public works contracts and design contests, BIM will be rolled out in the UK in 2016 and Germany in 2018. The Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Norway have already adopted it, whilst in France, the Housing Minister recently announced that it will be mandatory for public procurement as from 2017.
BIM or building 2.0, from design to demolition
“Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an integrated process for exploring a project’s key physical and functional characteristics digitally before it’s built, helping to deliver projects faster and more economically, while minimizing environmental impact,” explains Paul Sullivan*, Senior Public Relations Manager at Autodesk, the company that conceptualised and developed BIM. He goes on: “Coordinated, consistent information is used throughout the process to design innovative projects, better visualize and simulate real-world appearance, performance and cost, and create more accurate documentation.” All the team members input data throughout the project, facilitating communication and project delivery.
A simpler definition is provided by the National Institute of Building Sciences, quoted on WSP*: “A digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility… and a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.”
BIM: the entire life cycle of the building and all the players
But BIM isn’t confined to the design and coordination phase: it covers the entire building life cycle and ecosystem, including urban infrastructures, equipment and services. As such, BIM involves everyone from architects and contractors to suppliers of products, technologies and services, citizens and end users, communities and public authorities.
This week in Paris, a dedicated expo called BIM World* is being organised for the very first time (25th and 26th March) and attended by players from across the building industry.
BIM: bringing building into the age of data and digital
A description of the challenges and potential of BIM on the website of this new BIM event highlights the vital importance of data: “Technologies such as 3D, augmented or virtual reality, GIS, Big Data, Open Data, Cloud storage and smart grids are now interfaced with digital models of buildings and infrastructure, opening up new possibilities in innovation and service.” And all this data is designed to make cost savings throughout the lifecycle of the building: design, construction, maintenance and use through to demolition.
New skills and jobs
Recruitment consultants recommend that professionals across the industry update their skills and IT tools in order to incorporate the new working methods and tools associated with BIM. A number of universities currently offer MSc courses in Building Information Modeling, and BIM Manager is increasingly featuring on job sites.
According to recruitment firm Hays, the typical BIM Manager has a background in engineering or architecture who’s at home with IT tools and had a sound understanding of virtual building and documentation systems. A BIM Manager reports to and works closely with the Technical Project Manager, overseeing the BIM project, which involves holding coordination meetings and drafting reports on interferences between the different copies of the model.
*Reference articles/further reading
The daily life of building information modeling (Buildipedia)
What is BIM? (WPS Group)
How to hire a great BIM manager (Cadalyst).
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