Unlocking the value of BIM
BIM is however more than just designing a building using a 3D collaborative tool. In its truest sense, BIM is about the building from start to finish, from concept to the end of its life (and everything in between). The initial drive for use of BIM in Australia has been from the designers, architects and engineers. Its focus has initially been on the initial phases of the building’s life, its design and construction.Building Information Modelling (BIM) has made significant advances throughout the world over the last 5 years. Its adoption within the Australian construction industry is noticeable. As designers have grappled with the increasingly higher project delivery time frames and management of risk, the use of BIM has aided project delivery through better spatial planning and co-ordination, phased construction and design for manufacturing and assembly off site. WGE are actively involved in the use of BIM and understand the need to collaborate with design teams to unlock the value of BIM.
Subsequently, driven by a need to reduce on side construction costs, MEP contractors have begun to adopt aspects of BIM for off-site fabrication. Initiatives such as BIM –MEP-AUS have been established primarily by MEP contractors in an effort to standardize the building blocks used within BIM platforms. Prominent MEP contractors have now successfully adopted and implemented off-site fabrication through the use of BIM technology.
This approach is further supported by the nature of the tools now available. BIM platforms such as REVIT-MEP have powerful engineering tools built in. Thermal modelling, airflow and water flow summation, and pressure loss calculation are but some aspects of these in-built engineering capabilities. At first glance it could be assumed that these tools are the greatest driver for the merging of these traditional functions.From the perspective of the consulting engineer, WGE have been an early adopter of BIM technology. The traditional approach of a separate engineer and draftsperson has been dramatically altered through the use of BIM platforms such as REVIT-MEP. The nature of REVIT-MEP is such that it is now far more than a documentation tool. It is rather a design, documentation, planning and execution/implementation tool. The adoption of BIM is challenging traditional engineering work flows. Design functions are being brought forward in project process, requiring and integration of the design and documentation functions. Consequently, in a similar approach to architectural firms, WGE have begun to collapse the design and documentation functions. This approach provides a number of benefits and challenges. The clear benefits are that of project continuity and understanding of design intent. Design intent and documentation that accurately reflects this intent can be achieved through the integration of the design and documentation functions.
Our experience over a number of years has however made it clear that the use of BIM technology brings forward detailed design functions in the project programme. This requires detailed design and spatial planning to occur very early on in the process and requires that, more detailed engineering input be provided rather than simple schematic detail.
The implementation of BIM on numerous projects nationally has clearly provided value, both to our clients and WGE:
- Greater clarity for the clients on what they are getting – visual representation
- Improved spatial planning
- Reduced construction related variations due to clashes
- More competitive tender pricing due to greater design clarity
- Reduced project risk for our clients and designers
Our industry is certainly evolving and there are significant developments still required across all aspects of construction projects to truly embrace the full BIM process.
Greater collaboration between architects, engineers and contractors will unlock the full benefit of the BIM process.