Building information modeling (BIM) has been changing the landscape of construction for a significant period of time.
During design and preconstruction, BIM models can better predict job costs and identify potential problems before work begins — reducing costly change orders and subsequent project delays. Once construction starts, the model becomes a coordination tool through which team members can access the multidimensional design documents via a computer or mobile device.
Here are six BIM-related technologies that will likely affect the industry in 2019 and beyond:
When BIM is coupled with the mobile features of the cloud, collaboration becomes seamless. A cloud-based repository and BIM workspace allows various users to work on models simultaneously. Real-time models and project data can be accessed, updated and shared by any team member, from anywhere and at any time.
Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR)
With VR, users can examine 3D models through specialized glasses, enabling “virtual walk-throughs.” AR glasses merge virtual images with what you see in front of you. For example, BIM models can be viewed in full scale, superimposed over the physical site.
3D Laser Scans and Drones
BIM models are becoming more enhanced with data. Point clouds (a collection of data points representing a 3D shape or feature) and tables of existing site measurements can be created by conducting a laser scan at the building site. Drones are increasingly being used as well. Both are useful for projects that are difficult or dangerous to measure by hand. The data collected can be used to create more accurate models.
A growing trend in construction, 3D printing can create accurate building elements in a relatively short time and with minimal material loss. By connecting a 3D printer to BIM software, you can create a physical representation of the model for stakeholders. It also can be used to quickly make prototypes.
Traditional BIM software generates 3D construction models. Newer technology, however, links these to both construction schedules and estimating databases — creating 5D BIM. Project teams can see how changes to materials, layouts and other design elements will affect not only spatial relationships, but also the schedule and costs. Workflows are improved and estimating becomes faster and easier.
As more project owners require energy-efficient and/or smart buildings, you’ll see more of a push for 6D and 7D models. BIM models already can carry information such as thermal data, surface area and CO2 emissions. 6D BIM adds long-term sustainable elements such as project lifecycle and energy consumption. 7D BIM is all about facility management — the model is handed off to the project owner after completion and becomes an integral part of the building’s operations and maintenance.
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