How Open BIM Facilitates Collaborative Design?

Due to its multifaceted benefits, building information modelling (BIM) is rapidly gaining traction in the AEC industry as the key pre-construction planning, construction management, and post-construction facilities management tool. Whilst many firms have transitioned to this ‘intelligent’ model-based process, the ‘real’ potential of BIM can only be achieved by open exchange of design and non-design project information amongst key project stakeholders: architects, structural engineers, MEP design consultants, MEP engineers, and other trade subcontractors.

A common challenge faced by mid-sized to large projects is that not all project participants use the same BIM application. This is where the concept of closed BIM and open BIM comes into play. The above two approaches are fundamentally different ways of looking at 3D BIM modelling.

Closed BIM, also known as ‘lonely BIM’, is a BIM environment wherein the same version of a BIM application is used by all key project stakeholders. This approach may also include different trades using the BIM-compatible applications from the same vendor. As a case in point, the lead architect uses Revit Architecture to model architectural elements. The structural engineer uses Revit Structure to take the architectural BIM model as the reference and define the building’s structure whilst the MEP design consultant uses Revit MEP to model building services. Although no file conversion is required in the closed BIM approach, the process is restrictive in the sense that it only allows project participants well-versed with certain BIM tools to collaborate, thereby not allowing ‘true’ integration.

On the other hand, open BIM is a workflow wherein all participants can collaborate and exchange project information with each other using non-proprietary, neutral file formats irrespective of the BIM tools and applications they use. The information exchanged is not only limited to the BIM model’s geometric data but also includes other parametric data, such as specifications, quantity take-offs, material procurement, cost estimation, and construction phasing. Most common open BIM protocols currently in use include Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie).

Whilst IFC allows exchange of both geometric and non-design data amongst different applications that support open BIM, COBie only allows facilities management data to be exchanged. Using IFC, the architectural BIM model created by the lead architect’s design team in Graphisoft ArchiCAD can be opened and manipulated by the structural engineer when his/her team works in Tekla Structures. Similarly, the integrated architectural and structural BIM model can be imported into Revit MEP platform by the lead MEP consultant. Once the detailed MEP design is complete, the federated model can be taken into a clash detection and 3D BIM coordination tool, such as Navisworks again using IFC format. This leads to workflow-level collaboration amongst key project members which is the essence of BIM compared to the conventional 2D CAD workflows.

At XS CAD, we have an extensive know-how of both open BIM and closed BIM methodologies due to the fact that we have provided 3D BIM modelling and 3D BIM coordination support to architects, MEP engineers, and contractors in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India. To find out more about how your project can benefit from our BIM modelling services, contact us.

As-Built Construction Assets: Key to Future Planning and Facilities Management

Preparing ‘as-built’ drawings and models is certainly one of the most crucial requirements of any design-build project. These final set of construction assets validates how the contractor built the structure including all the changes and modifications that were made in the process. The finalised drawings and models are passed on from the contractors to the building owners and property managers.

The set of as-built drawings and models, though underestimated and neglected, broadly serve a dual purpose. Firstly, the as-built drawings and models act as a guidebook to the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) firms that are contracted for renovation and refurbishment of an existing structure. So, the time, cost, and resources that would have been utilised during pre-renovation survey are saved. Secondly, they help owners and facilities managers to conveniently undertake maintenance and refurbishment activities besides helping them during emergency situations e.g. for rapid evacuation.

Whereas data-rich as-built 3D building information models have obvious benefits over 2D drawing sets, the decision to choose one over the other mainly involves factors, such as the scale of the project, owner’s preference, and the design-build teaming structure. The owners of relatively small building projects may prefer 2D as-built drawings of an existing building, prepared by a technician after collecting accurate data on site. On the contrary, large-scale design-build and renovation projects may require BIM-driven as-built 3D models.

Assuming that the project in question has not had a BIM model for the design process which is then updated during the as-built stage of the project, there are two typical ways of preparing as-built BIM models. Firstly, using the as-built drawings and other construction drawing sets as the starting point, 3D BIM models can be prepared using applications such as Autodesk Revit. The second method involves the Scan to BIM technique where point cloud data of the structures. This point cloud data is then converted into an intelligent BIM model using tools such as Cloudworx and Scan to BIM applications such as Revit.

The as-built drawings and BIM models serve as a comprehensive reference tool for owners and property managers. They benefit from these as-built drawings and models in the following ways:-

  • The finalised as-built construction assets make future project planning, including renovations, extensions, and redevelopments, convenient and cost effective for the owners.
  • Since the as-built drawings and BIM models contain complete details related to dimensions, fabrication, erection, elevations, sizing, materials, location, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing utilities, the owners can use this data and conveniently manage facilities within budget.
  • The owners can use these as-built assets to resolve disputes regarding insurance claims. In case of a massive loss due to extreme disasters, the insurance company will require extensive documentation, including the as-built drawings and models to support your claims.

As the as-built drawings and models are prepared by combining the drawings/models of all the building services, the owners and property managers can schedule maintenance operations of the building’s MEP (M&E) systems in a timely manner.

BIM-Enabled IPD: A Win-Win for Owners and Project Stakeholders

The building and construction industry is faced with a multitude of challenges in areas, ranging from design planning, construction administration and budgeting, to scheduling and facilities management. To add to this, the demands from owners’ regards to timely completion, cost efficiency, constructability and energy performance are becoming increasingly stringent. As a result, multidisciplinary coordination between all the parties involved in an AEC project right from design planning through to on-site construction, administration is paramount to meet these demands.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) framework, if implemented appropriately, can ensure ongoing collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including the client, the architect, the main contractor, the MEP designer and the MEP contractor at all the stages of the project from conception to completion. As defined by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a process that “collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all the participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.”

 

A crucial element of the IPD approach is the adoption of building information modelling (BIM) technology. Unlike traditional project delivery methods, the essence of BIM technology is the central parametric model that is developed using 3D input, often times separate BIM models, from different parties involved in an AEC project. By enabling greater collaboration and information-sharing between different participants, data-rich BIM models drive the IPD framework and improve decision-making ability that can positively impact the project’s outcome. Following are the compelling reasons as to why AEC project teams must employ a combination of IPD and BIM and how this approach delivers positive value propositions for all stakeholders:

  • The IPD contractual agreements establishes clarity and dismisses ambiguity amongst all the project stakeholders with regards to decision-making, detailed responsibilities of each party, and risk/reward-sharing mechanism for each task. As a result, major participants, including the architects, MEP engineers and main contractors are clear about their respective roles and timeframes.

 

  • Employing parametric BIM models structures the project team in a way that encourages clear, open, and horizontal communication. This facilitates diverse disciplines to seamlessly coordinate during the pre-construction design planning and construction phases.

 

  • IPD necessitates mapping out comprehensive workflows and protocols for developing, sharing and updating the digital BIM models. These plans clearly delineate procedures for intra-discipline as well as inter-discipline design data management and communication.

 

  • Due to an integrated design management structure facilitated by BIM and IPD, the cost and time benefits experienced by the primary project team members spill over to secondary chain participants, including fabricators, installation experts and facility managers.

 

So, if your firm operates in the AEC industry and is looking for a highly recommended IPD support services provider to handle initial consultation to complete project management, contact us.

Benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling ( BIM ) is becoming increasingly popular in the AEC industry as a new technology and an approach that allows viewing of a virtual model of the building before it is actually built.  BIM brings with it many advantages that facilitates the design, planning, construction and operational phase of the project.

BIM allows for easy coordination and interoperability between different domains that results in effective exchange of information.  It provides a common single integrated database to support different domains associated in the delivery process.  Since sharing of same data is possible, the loss of information in communication process is minimized.  It’s ability to produce an accurate virtual representation of a building model giving a clear idea of how the real building would look like. It reduces the total expenditure by eliminating the waste of construction material.It helps to reduce the errors and omissions resulting in less rework.

A BIM model when made as a graphical illustration helps to identify the potential failures, leaks, evacuation plans etc. It also allows estimating the cost involved. Material quantities are automatically extracted and changed as per the changes made in the model. The use of BIM yields higher productivity and reduces contingencies.The objects created using BIM are defined as building elements such as walls, spaces, columns beams etc. It can be used to demonstrate the entire lifecycle of a building from construction to facility operation. BIM technology also helps to check clashes and collisions as a BIM model is created in 3D space.  For example, it can check for collision between pipes and steel beams, walls or ducts.

BIM technology is really a breakthrough from the traditional 2D CAD drawings. With so many benefits of using BIM technology, BIM is definitely the future of the construction industry.

Understanding of Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling is an innovative and promising development witnessed by the architecture, engineering and construction industry (AEC).  With issues like over-budget and declining productivity pervading the AEC industry, Building Information Modeling instills a hope to minimize these issues to a large extent.

BIM in simple terms means creating a virtual 3D building before it is actually built with all the relevant data and proper geometry.  Thus viewing the digital representation of a building helps to avoid or correct any potential problem in the pre-construction stage.  The ‘information’ part in ‘Building Information Modeling’ is of utmost importance.  A BIM model digitally represents the real elements within the construction project along with its geometry, geographic information, spatial relations, quantities and properties of building components. This information can be extracted at any stage of the project.

BIM model is often confused with a 3D model. Not all 3D models are BIM models. Some 3D models created for visualization purpose that lacks intelligence and control for its position and sizes cannot be called as BIM models. BIM is lot more than 3D CAD modeling. It is a hub for rich information allowing access for product information, retrieving specifications for a part and many other details beyond geometric information.

BIM is a powerful tool that can simplify the construction process incredibly. A proper methodology needs to be adopted for proper implementation of BIM. By overcoming the challenges faced in adopting BIM, BIM can do wonders.