What is BIM?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a profound change in designing, planning, building and maintaining projects in the AEC industry. The various involved parties, such as architects, designers, contractors, planners, builders, consultants, and civil engineers, are encouraged to collaborate and share information from the design phase on, resulting in a complex set of information about the entire building which is stored in an integrated database – a digital 3D model fed with lots of information.

The Model

Through this model, clear visualization in all stages and a high transparency of information are main advantages. While CAD-based drawings lack both in visualization and meta-tag information (e.g. prices, contact information, etc.), BIM includes very high quality rendering and provides all the product manufacturers data. This means that instead of recurring bilateral and paper-based communication between two parties, BIM enables multilateral and digitally automated communication. Concerning the relationship of product manufacturers and architects, the following illustration shows what a significant advancement in technology a BIM model represents in comparison to a traditional CAD-drawing. The example highlights the visual advantages of enhanced clearness and presentiveness. This also serves as a convenient communication possibility, since end customers lag in technical understanding but can easily understand a visualized 3D-model. The traditional 2D drawings are not easy to read at first sight, whereas the 3D BIM model (bottom left) is even understandable for non-professionals such as final customers. The customer will be more satisfied as he or she does not only understand the design easily, but can express own wishes and suggest adjustments that are in his or her interest.

The History

A main goal of BIM was to facilitate more efficient collaboration among the actors involved in the building process, at what the virtual 3D model and all the additional information around it are the key. The term BIM “Building Information Modeling” itself has attracted a lot of attention over the last decades and is best established in Scandinavian countries and in the USA. However, BIM starts impacting other countries as well, for example will BIM be mandatory for all public building projects in the UK by the year 2016.

The Future

BIM will evolve on its academic, its cultural, and its technological level. Since young university students grow up with the interdisciplinary BIM approach, they will automatically spread a working culture of collaboration in which architects and product manufacturers will interact more closely. As BIM adoption continues to accelerate, especially improved collaboration with project contributors as well as sharing the 3D model and data among stakeholders will be the core of further BIM developments.

It´s all about information:

“The future BIM model will be a system completely interactive with key building information, climate information, user requirements, and triple bottom line impacts, so that design integration and data return among all systems is immediate and symbiotic.” (Source: E Krygiel & B Nies. 2008. Green BIM - Successful sustainable design with building information modeling. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing)

Increased client, design, and construction team understanding and communication:

“We presented a design to 400 members using an animation generated straight out of the software. After we showed them that, it was question time, and I was bracing for a very long evening. They Organization dimension of BIM asked one question about some showers, and after that they said, ‘This looks great. We know what we’re getting. Let’s build it.” (Source: Quote out of: E R Hoffer (Autodesk). 2014. Measuring the Value of BIM.)

BIM outlook for Germany

Though the German BIM implementation has overcome its starting phase, it is still lagging behind other countries such as the Scandinavian ones or the UK. However, studies agree that BIM will tremendously impact the German industry over the next years (http://www.irbnet.de/daten/rswb/13039000568.pdf and Example 2). Consequently, product manufacturers gain the opportunity to be one step ahead of the market by becoming a BIM pioneer. Another short and concise study of the BRZ also analyzes the current state of BIM in Germany (the complete study can be requested at BRZ).