The potential of BIM is far greater than most of us realise, says Mohamad Kassem
BIM is changing the way the construction industry operates and is providing significant opportunities and at the same time challenges for all stakeholders.
We can appreciate the extent of these opportunities and challenges when we recognise that BIM is perceived to streamline the information flow in construction projects within a “cradle to grave” perspective.
Much of the industry’s tangible achievements have been associated with isolated uses of BIM at the design and construction stages such as design authoring, clash detection, compliance checking, 4D planning and more recently in facility management applications.
While these uses have proved valuable, the full potential from BIM remains unravelled. Enabling a whole-life-cycle view to the management of building information remains one of the greatest challenges for our industry.
The construction industry is still one of the poorest industries in terms of digital data and their use to drive performance. Connecting designers, fabricators, builders and owners or facility managers through BIM can lead to more economically and environmentally sustainable construction processes and buildings for all involved.
Imagine this scenario: we design a building element, we use design information to fabricate the element with the confidence that it will fit on site and be accepted by the client while providing facility managers the digital and reliable data required for its operation.
If we scale up this scenario from an individual element to an entire building, we are essentially striving towards an integrated digital construction industry which resembles traditionally efficient industries such as the manufacturing industries.
While achieving this level of digitalisation could be an ultimate objective, there is no doubt that BIM is increasing the availability of digital data in our industry. We should all seek to develop and apply processes and tools that leverage BIM digital data to drive efficiency and quality in construction.
Developments from technology providers and research communities investigating BIM for specific purposes such “BIM for manufacturing”, “BIM for Facility Management”, etc are now emerging to address those areas where BIM uses are less matured.
We should not overlook connecting all these BIM uses within a whole lifecycle perspective. This is a key challenge for policy makers, innovators and practitioners.
BIM SHOW LIVE
To find out more about the benefits and practical application of BIM visit the BIM Show Live, which is being held at Manchester Central 23 - 24 April. To find out more go to www.bimshowlive.co.uk
Dr Mohamad Kassem is a senior lecturer in engineering project management at the Technology Futures Institute, Teesside University.
He is engaged in research, business engagement and teaching in the area of IT applications and development in architectural, engineering and construction projects and built environment. He has numerous publications on these subjects in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences.