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Building Information Modeling Software: Far More Than Just 3D Visualization

Nov 12, 2022 14 min read
"Building Information Modeling Software: Far More Than Just 3D Visualization"

What is a BIM model?

Building information modeling is a discipline using software to capture, organize and manage information needed to design, build, evolve, and operate buildings.

Modern digital tools make it easy to visualize your building designs and connect multiple data sources for additional value. BIM models are one of the leading technology in Construction, that is becoming a standard. A BIM model is a detailed 3D model that reflects all systems and communications. In a broad sense, BIM means the creation and management of physical and functional information about any object planned or under construction.

Using BIM, we can make digital twins of physical assets, processes, and systems the so-called ‘digital twins’ of buildings. The future building can be viewed from all angles and details: from engineering units to interiors. These models illustrate structural, electrical, and mechanical elements, as well as fire safety systems in three dimensions. There are a number of other data points that can be analyzed in addition to these key design elements. These include material specifications, component costs, and the sequence of construction and maintenance requirements.

Why use Building Information Modeling Software for AEC projects

The main advantage of using BIM models is the detailing and significant savings in construction time provided by them. The cost of objects based on this technology is 20-25% lower, and the construction time is 30% lower than when using CAD. Better information and fewer errors at each stage of construction, allowed by this technology, have also improved the quality of constructed facilities.

It is common industry practice to use BIM models for exchanging information about building structures throughout their life cycle. In addition to blueprint measurements, BIM models also contain data about facility systems, materials used, or manufacturers involved. While BIM is extremely useful and has many benefits, interoperability between different teams or organizations remains an issue.

It is possible to convert and transform BIM information through FME in order to ensure that everyone has access to the correct information. Extract only the data you require, such as floor plans in 2D, shells in 3D, or specific attributes, from common BIM formats such as IFC, Revit, and SketchUp.

BIM model software integration

BIM Model Benefits

3D CAD-based programs are the most commonly used programs for designing buildings. Programs of this type create 3D models and generate drawings and calculations. BIM, however, is a step ahead, giving control during construction, operation, and dismantling along with design. 

Accuracy

A significant advantage of the BIM environment is that it prevents inaccurate data from being entered into the project. Thus, engineering systems cannot overlap each other, which eliminates problems during construction.

Material consumption errors in BIM technology are minimal, less than 3%, compared to 15-20% in traditional assessment tools. You can feel the difference.

An accurate project saves customers both time and money. In a BIM-based project, customers will not worry whether the ventilation system rests against the supporting structure or whether cables intersect with the water supply system.

Economic efficiency

A Building Information Model increases construction's economic efficiency from an early stage. Close interaction between specialists, detailed visualizations, and parameterization of building components make this possible. An integrated approach allows project participants to monitor changes in real time, allowing them to adjust and coordinate work on time.

Convenience

With a BIM project, clients avoid processing numerous plans and diagrams. It is enough to open the model on a computer screen and observe the objects from all sides. BIM technology creates unique digital objects. Everything you need to know about the project, from the idea to full implementation, is at your fingertips. The data contained in the project is available to all participants: customers, contractors, management companies, and other interested parties.

Flexibility and control

Building modeling allows each system to be viewed separately or as part of the overall model, giving flexibility and control. Electrical wiring, for instance, is not presented in the form of circuit diagrams but rather as wiring, panels, sockets, and lighting fixtures laid out in 3D, where the building's exterior and interior, including its concrete structure, can be viewed in high detail.

When the customer decides to move the ventilation deflectors. Input your data, and the model will automatically calculate the cost and the length of the ducts.

Ease of communication with non-technical specialists

Non-technical specialists can stay on track. Many stakeholders must understand design and construction intent but lack the technical expertise to interpret schemes. BIM models provide governmental leaders, executives, and other interested parties with an understanding of what a project entails with easy-to-interpret images and animations.

Data flow consistency

With traditional construction methods, as teams move from one stage of a project to the next, there is a high risk of losing information. BIM technology works with information in digital form, making it available to all project participants at any time and in any place.

Implementation of BIM is about ensuring a continuous flow of information. Every step of the building process, from early planning and design to construction, operation, maintenance, and final disposal, will be recorded digitally. This opens up new opportunities for improving efficiency, accuracy, interaction, and cooperation between all construction participants.

BIM model software

Is the game worth it? BIM Modeling ROI

Some customers are skeptical about a BIM project and believe that the price is too high. However, the ROI and strategic benefits of this software are obvious. Savings from better and more accurate calculations used in BIM fully recoup costs during construction and reduce the risk of unjustified losses.

There has been positive payback for most BIM users. Users get more productivity, better quality, new business opportunities, and overall better project outcomes, as well as improved team integration for an edge over the competition. Based on McGraw Hill, key findings show:

  • Two-thirds of users state they have seen positive ROI on their investment.
  • 87% of expert users report positive ROI.
  • 93% of users believe there is potential to gain more value from it in the future.

Types of BIM Models

Today BIM models are available in 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D, and even 7D formats. Models differ in how complete they are. The standard 3D model reflects the engineering and geological part of the work, including materials, technical base, and safety measures. The broadest one, the 7D model adds aspects such as time planning, financial plan, facility energy efficiency, environmental performance, and facility maintenance during operation.

BIM Adoption

State support for the use of BIM has already begun in many countries. In the USA, Singapore, South Korea, and the EU, BIM is a legal requirement for the construction of buildings and structures. This trend has also reached the CIS countries.

The cost of implementing BIM can be recovered through the efficiencies that come from a BIM-based workflow. The caveat is that the technology must be implemented properly, and in-house processes must be modified to harness its capabilities. With BIM, you'll get fewer errors, fewer RFIs, less rework, and more efficient Leed calculations.

With the onset of the digital economy, smart cities will adopt BIM, so that city administrations, management companies, and other organizations can influence processes more efficiently. Companies, governmental institutions, and manufacturers integrate BIM and GIS (Geographical Information System) to achieve smart communities.

smart city bim model

Using 3D images of buildings, in conjunction with existing landscapes and networks, helps visualize their geometric structure, see the surrounding space and shadows and accurately predict the budget and construction time.

The BIM Use Cases

The BIM model allows both to monitor the state of objects under construction and to resolve issues related to the functioning of already constructed buildings.

Design stage

BIM coordinates the actions of all project participants: the customer, designers, and builders, as well as operational and other relevant structures. As structured data accumulates, the BIM model evolves naturally along with the design.

via GIPHY

Reconstruction

Due to the frequent lack of up-to-date drawings of existing buildings, renovation projects are always labor-intensive. By creating a laser scan and a BIM model, you can obtain the most accurate images and input data for subsequent reconstruction work.

Construction

The model consists of a three-dimensional image that simulates the entire construction process in real-time as well as a relationship between construction and construction schedule. A workflow can be estimated and planned if time is measurable. Team members can analyze and identify issues quickly, resulting in increased productivity.

bim models

The 5D model includes another important value – cost. With this indicator, you can determine your current and future expenses at a glance and plan for them ahead of time. This is where you can achieve assessment accuracy and avoid downtime.

Operation

It provides continuous monitoring and full access to information about any building object. For example, you get a description of building structures and engineering equipment with full technical characteristics of their relationships and capabilities. The model is ideal for managing complex, high-tech objects.

BIM modeling and marketing

The BIM model is also a sales tool. It helps showcase and distinguish a marketing product from competitors and positions it at a higher level. By combining 3D visualization with textual information, you get a better sense of the cost, area, and other characteristics of premises.

BIM models for manufacturers

Creating BIM models of equipment, furniture, decor, and structures allows manufacturers to apply them to projects. Applying and creating specs becomes easier, so there's less chance of engineering errors.

You can also enter any parameter for classifying objects. All participants in the building materials and equipment supply chain can access the required product information at all stages of construction.

Digital Twin Creation

The laser-scanning monitoring technology works with a point cloud and 360 panoramas built into it - they are obtained using terrestrial LiDAR scanners. The software cleans and processes point clouds, and reproduces a digital twin of the constructed object on their basis. It then compares the output with the original BIM model and work schedule.

The object is scanned inside and outside - as a result, a point cloud is obtained that visualizes the object under construction.

The use of laser scanning-based analytics helps the construction owner to anticipate possible risks and develop a plan to eliminate them, which significantly reduces costs and implementation time. Technology increases quality control and transparency of construction progress. Thanks to the visualization of work in a common virtual environment, communication between the customer, the contractor, and representatives of architectural supervision improve.

The point cloud is cleared of noise, scaffolding, inventory, and other third-party items using artificial intelligence algorithms. Only after that is it possible to compare it with the original BIM model and get analytics on quality and progress.

BIM Model Integration

Working with multiple partners (suppliers, customers, local contractors) on interdisciplinary projects, with a growing demand for improved information flow, development companies use BIM to streamline their solutions and improve project success.

We will take as an example a manufacturing facility. Building Information Modeling can be integrated into the factory's projects using different suites of software tools and 3D plant scanners that integrate all project disciplines.

A factory 3D scanner captures a high-density point cloud of the physical building, existing equipment, and installed utilities. On average, it takes 2 to 3 days and 700 scanned points to fully scan an existing manufacturing facility.

Based on this, a personalized plant layout and a building model are created at the same time. Projects at existing sites use the point cloud generated by the plant's 3D scanner as a starting point. After that, the detailed design of plant equipment begins, including mechanical and process design (pipelines and air ducts, safety barriers). All data is linked through the BIM process, creating a global coordination model that includes all disciplines and information specific to the project.

Finally, upon completion of the project, a digital twin is obtained. It can be used for facility management and future modernization projects. BIM integrations open the possibility of real-time data.

How to implement BIM technologies correctly

One of the main tasks of software developers in the construction industry is to simplify the life of the designer and builder. This is to help them work more efficiently and understand the abundance of engineering data. This can be done through the introduction of digital tools and, in particular, BIM technologies.

BIM technologies make it possible to create and apply a digital model of a building or structure at the stages of design, construction, and operation. This model includes all data about structural elements and equipment: who designed, purchased, delivered, installed, and launched them; what characteristics the assets have and who is responsible for their safe operation.

Without digitization, the amount of paper documentation grows extremely quickly. We see what problems builders face and how difficult it is for them to find relationships between different disciplines and competently manage the process. When new participants join the project, design solutions change and delivery deadlines are missed, there are even more papers. More paperwork means more fragmentation and inconsistency of data, which makes it impossible to reuse already relatively ready-made solutions in the next stages of the project.

Despite these difficulties, customers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of BIM technologies and are gradually implementing them. At the same time, we began to notice that several myths about information modeling were spreading in the construction environment.

BIM is not just modeling, but information management

BIM technology takes quite a time to adopt. It is sufficient to teach your designers how to use computer-aided design systems (CAD) and to begin designing in 3D to find potential interdisciplinary collisions.

In addition to transferring everything from paper to digital, the industry must learn how to correctly deal with the composition of the data in the model. Why is this necessary and why should customers take an active part in this?

The essence of the application of BIM technologies lies in the methodology of information management. For a company to truly make BIM work, it must actively participate in the development of customer information requirements (EIR). To deal with EIR, you need to consistently define:

  • What information should be used for the preparation of management and accounting reports?
  • How the information model will be applied at the stage of operation of the facility.
  • What tasks will the information model solve at different stages of design and construction?

Learn about how our engineers helped build a BIM Data Analyzer Tool

https://qit.software/cases/twingine/

BIM Model Data Analysis

One of the key elements of BIM technologies is the Common Data Environment (CDE). Another myth is associated with it: many people think that this is an ordinary electronic archive, which contains all the information about the object. We use another term - engineering data management system (EDMS). This is software that allows you to store information as well as automatically collect and manage data.

To take full advantage of the implementation of EDMS, the system must provide four key capabilities:

  • Data management and validation;
  • Evolution of the information model using business processes;
  • Management of users and their access to information;
  • Reliable real-time reports.

Let's talk about each in more detail.

Data management and validation

EDMS allows you to flexibly customize the requirements for the information model at different stages of the object's life cycle and defines the data model and its interconnectedness. During mass loading, "raw" information is automatically validated according to the specified requirements and distributed among the structures. For example, thanks to EDMS, you can check whether the information meets the requirements of building regulations or Rosreestr data. As a result, only verified information becomes available.

The engineering data management system also contains a data classifier, which records the interconnections of technological systems with each other. This avoids collisions: for example, installation of equipment is not possible until the foundation is poured.

Evolution of the information model through business processes

In addition to data management, EDMS is a necessary component for creating a single digital space, creating a “digital twin of an organization” with described regulations and business processes. We believe that a robust EDMS can not only work with these business processes but also influence them through the asset information model. The information model must independently and continuously evolve, accumulating more and more relevant data according to given rules.

Managing users and their access to information

Thanks to EDMS, each project participant works with one copy of the data, which has already been pre-processed and approved by the customer. This eliminates the duplication of documents, drawings, and other data.

Since different project participants need access to different information, EDMS lets you distinguish access not only based on participant role but also customize the user interface and graphical representation of the model structure flexibly. As an example, the designer in our EDMS has access to data on sections and drawings corresponding to the corresponding brands; the builder has access to information on work packages or sections; and the industrial facility operation service has information on - by workshops and installations.

Reliable real-time reporting

Another consequence of the introduction of EDMS is a real-time analytical dashboard, where each project participant can customize charts and reports for themselves. Since business processes are digitized, all data is relevant and reliable. The dashboard briefly displays information from hundreds of thousands of documents and metadata. Thanks to this, the customer receives reports on time and the quality of design and the speed of construction increase.

Final words

If you need a customized version of Building Information Modeling and your requirements are beyond what standard software can meet, we are ready to step in.

Our software engineers will develop custom BIM and BIM data-analyzing software for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industries. We do workflow automation, 3D modeling, data analysis, visualization, and API development and integration to facilitate interoperability between these applications.

If you don't know where to start, write to us to get a free consultation. We can't wait to work with you.

Read our Case Study on how we built a SaaS solution for the Construction industry

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