If there is one defining feature in construction it is the industry’s collaborative character. When a multitude of different stakeholders work together toward the common goal of creating and managing a building, the comprehensive, up-to-date and correct provision and exchange of information is key. In recent years, with increasing focus on sustainability and efficiency, the flow and use of this data is gaining ever more importance. Keeping this in mind, this blog will take a look at the ins and outs of BIM (Building Information Modeling) and
-aided design for architecture, engineering and construction, published an article in the AIA Journal, which described interactive defined elements where information about maps, facades, perspectives and sections are collated in one document. Since then and in the course of an international creation process, BIM has been taken up around the world and can be defined as a smart and highly collaborative process enabling
International Alliance for Interoperability) since 1994 to facilitate the exchange of the multidisciplinary data model that is so typical for the multi-stakeholder construction industry, IFC is all about interoperability and the error and loss free exchange of information. Since 2013, it has been registered as the official International Standard ISO 16739 and, depending on the size of the BIM model, IFC files can be saved in various formats. The varied workflows between AEC stakeholders provide many practical use cases: Imagine, for example, a building engineer who needs to review an architect’s design in order to identity suitable locations for installing heaters. If the building model was created in software A and is then send to the building engineer who uses software B which cannot read the architect’s software, it causes communication problems that the IFC format can solve.
Infrastructure use cases show BIM and IFC capabilities
Looking at large-scale and complex BIM projects makes the necessity of a standardized data model even clearer. Randselva Bridge, the world’s longest bridge built entirely without drawings in Norway, saw 95% of all information transferred to the contractors with IFC files to save time and eliminate errors. Or take Husbridge Hospital in Finland, an incredibly complex undertaking with a vast number of design disciplines and subcontractors involved, where IFC files were accessed on mobile devices by 100 site workers per day.
The list of BIM software is long and comprehensive, and their suitability very much depends on specific requirements related to where you stand in the AEC environment. Revit by Autodesk, initially released in 2000, is one of the most widely deployed applications. It is often described as a “mainstream” software solving a range of engineering and design problems for architects, designers, mechanical, electrical and plumbing professionals, engineers and contractors. Further Autodesk solutions focus on specific process stages and tasks: Navisworks was designed for the pre-construction stage, helping AEC professionals to control and predict project outcomes from the start while Autodesk BIM 360 is a cloud-based web service that brings together different design, project and construction processes in one process, to support time keeping and improve decision-making.
ArchiCAD by Graphisoft is another widely used software which is very popular in urban planning, designing and architecture, as it improves the workflow in these areas. ArchiCAD is also considered the industry’s first BIM software, with development starting in 1982, and one of the most suitable for beginners. Remodelers and home builders might want to have a look at cloud-based Buildertrend as a construction-stage BIM tool. Kreo is an example of a BIM software trying to utilize the benefits of AI and the intelligent cloud-based service offers AI capabilities to support, e.g., the analysis of existing BIM models as well as to create early-stage BIM models.
The vast majority of BIM software comes at a cost. Among the few free options, BIMobject is used by many architects, contractors, designers and engineers to access BIM objects on this platform which only requires a registration form.
BIM and IFC: A future-proof combination
Particularly for large as well as complex projects of any size, BIM software enables a level of cooperation between contractors, engineers and architects which would be difficult to achieve without such a smart, data-rich tool. The shareability and readability for all achieved through the IFC standard seals the package and has contributed considerably to BIM adoption substantially growing over the last decade.
improved coordination of information, better productivity, reduced risk and increased profitability.
Given that the future of construction will be even more collaborative and digital as it already is, BIM continues to evolve in line and becomes more sophisticated, with 4D, 5D or even 6D BIM being – as experts agree – only a matter of time. Last but not least, the increasing focus on sustainability, including attempts to reduce waste in construction, should make working collaboratively in BIM environments to address supply chain inefficiencies, clashes, and reworking even more prominent.