What is BIM?
"BIM is a virtual process that encompasses all aspects, disciplines, and systems of an asset within a single virtual model, allowing all to collaborate more accurately and efficiently than using traditional processes".
A BIM model is characterised by a three-dimensional representation of an asset based on elements that include information about the object beyond the graphical representation. Here the term BIM refers to a 3D design and modelling technology and database that provides enduring and transferrable digital information for the design, construction, project management, logistics, and material requirements of built environment assets.
BIM can therefore be defined as a virtual process that encompasses all aspects, disciplines, and systems of an asset within a single virtual model, allowing all to collaborate more accurately and efficiently than using traditional processes. BIM, also known as Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) or Digital Engineering, can be used to carry out a wide range of procedures and processes across the life cycle of a building or infrastructure asset. For example, Pennsylvania State University's (Penn State) Computer Integrated Construction (CIC) Research Program has identified at least 25 BIM uses across the planning, designing, construction, and operation phases.
Mature BIM is a socio-technical system that can be used to improve team communication throughout the project life cycle, produce better outcomes, reduce rework, lower risk, provide better predictability of outcomes and improve operation and maintenance of an asset. These are some of the benefits identified by the US infrastructure sector.
A common concern among new adopters, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), is the initial cost of implementing BIM and its applicability to small projects.
A survey carried out in the US found that, due to their shorter duration, small projects present more opportunities to introduce the use of BIM and the smaller size of organisations is advantageous in driving higher levels of implementation. This survey showed that 67% of all BIM users report a positive return on investment (ROI) for BIM use in infrastructure projects and 38% of those firms measuring ROI considered sustainability as an important contribution to higher ROI. In Australia, over half of the firms that focus on infrastructure projects reported over 25% ROI from implementing BIM.
The dictionary available as part of this tool provides an extensive list of benefits that can be achieved by implementing BIM in buildings and infrastructucture projects across different life cycle phases and by different stakeholders.
- Azhar, S., 2011. Building information modeling (BIM): Trends, benefits, risks, and challenges for the AEC industry. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 11(3), pp. 241-252.
- BEIIC, 2012. Final Report to the Government, s.l.: The Built Environment Industry Innovation Council.
- CRC for Construction Innovation, 2009. National Guidelines for Digital Modelling, Brisbane, Australia: Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.
- Penn State, 2011. BIM Execution Plan. [Online] Available at: http://bim.psu.edu/Uses/Resources/default.aspx [Accessed 05 September 2014]
- McGraw-Hill Construction, 2012. The business value of BIM for infrastructure: Addressing America's infrastructure challenges with collaboration and technology SmartMarket report, Bedford, MA: McGraw-Hill Construction.
- McGraw Hill Construction, 2014. The business value of BIM in Australia and New Zealand: How building information modeling is transforming the design and construction industry SmartMarket Report, Bedford, MA: McGraw Hill Construction.