The roots of building information modeling (BIM) lie in manufacturing and computer-aided drafting. Over the years, this high-tech tool has transitioned from a desktop design tool for architects to a valued collaboration tool among all stakeholders in a construction project — including contractors.
Mobile devices and cloud-based technology have made data-packed BIM models easier to work with, providing a central, multidimensional representation of every aspect of a project throughout its lifecycle. Let’s look at three ways that BIM is being used on today’s jobs.
More contractors are adopting digital tools to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations and reduce the risk of transmission among team members. A cloud-based repository and BIM workspace enables users to work on shared models simultaneously. That way, you can access real-time models and project data via laptop or mobile device from anywhere at any time.
In most cases, BIM updates are instantly communicated to all project members. So, you can better predict job costs, identify design clashes and resolve construction issues before work begins. Then, you can run simulations of the construction schedule to create a visual representation of the job to optimize each phase.
Newer BIM solutions now offer virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools. With these, contractors can present stakeholders with immersive “virtual walkthroughs” of the design or project. With VR, a user can use a headset to become immersed in the BIM model.
AR superimposes digital objects over the real world. So, for instance, users can use AR glasses or a mobile app to examine BIM models in full scale, superimposed over the physical site in front of them. AR applications also can use markers — such as QR codes, architectural drawings, images and GPS — to overlay BIM models.
BIM models can create “digital twins” — virtual models of structures that include data gathered by lasers, sensors, drones and the Internet of Things. Data is processed using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Once a project is finished, contractors can turn over the as-built virtual model complete with all important data of the project’s elements, including parts and history.
From there, owners integrate the model with services, such as computerized maintenance management system tools, to track and schedule maintenance and ensure the structure is running efficiently. Building managers can monitor and automate electrical and HVAC loads and maintenance tickets.
A Continuing Need
With COVID-19 still hovering, the need for advanced remote collaboration continues. Keep tabs on the latest features of BIM, as this tech tool or one like it may soon affect one of your jobs if it hasn’t already.
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