Article by: By Kelly-Ann Prinsloo (The Civil Engineering Contractor April 2017 publication)
With recent advances in technology on offer for built environment professionals, The Civil
Engineering Contractor spoke to Vaughan Harris, executive director at the Building Information
Modelling (BIM) Institute, to ask if building information modelling enables engineers, architects, and
quantity surveyors to work on one open data platform using a 3-D model.
Q: What does BIM really mean?
A: BIM is much more than simply 3D modelling. To fully understand the benefits of BIM tools and the data within the models is beneficial to all professionals in the built environment. Cost savings, project lead-time savings and improved communication and collaboration amongst the project team, across the various disciplines, are just some of the benefits.
Q: Why is South Africa lagging behind?
South Africa is traditionally conservative. As an industry we are known to hold back on implementing new and improved digital construction technologies.
Thankfully, there are a few South African companies who have bucked this trend and have started to invest in seemingly disruptive technologies. As a consequence, they are enjoying a visible change in performance. Only recently was the BIM Institute tasked with upskilling the Department of Public Works on BIM processes.
Building Information Modelling (BIM), building assembly modelling (BAM), building owner operator model (BOOM). BIM refers to the building information model used in the design phase. BAM is created during the construction phase. BOOM refers to the model used in the management phase. However the process of BIM BAM BOOM is not only able to improve lead times throughout the design and construction phase but also to act as an asset management tool throughout the lifecycle of a building.
Q: What is the value for professionals in built environment?
Architects, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP), and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers can benefit a lot during the BIM (design) phase by sharing information among various design professionals. They can now share designs by using the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) format to address issues around clash detection. Site managers, suppliers, precast element suppliers, and tradesmen can take advantage during the BAM (construction phase) allowing them to access data within the 3D model that will assist the integration of planning, procurement and estimating onsite. Once the building is completed, facility managers and department heads (BOOM) can use the rich data elements of the 3D model and engineering systems that provides an integrated description for the operational phase of a building and also helps improve the ongoing management of the model.
Q: What are the real benefits across disciplines?
BIM makes it possible to collaborate more efficiently across disciplines. It does not just save costs but also creates a cohesive and collaborative model to help professionals in the long term – from subcontractors to building suppliers.
Q: Where are the cost savings?
One of the top 50 contractors in the US, CPR has done extensive research on applying BIM in large-scale projects. Their clients mention 300-500% return on investment (ROI) on their BIM cost, as well as a shortened project time. According to a report published, BIM helped save an estimated US$9m and shaved six months from the schedule compared to a traditional CM-at-risk approach on the Camino Medical Group Mountain View campus. Model-based cost estimating on Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley has shortened the traditional two-month estimating cycle to two to three weeks, allowing for quicker and frequent cost feedback” explains one of their consultants.
During the first phase of BIM – the design phase – various stakeholders can work on the project across time zones and without having to be on site (i.e. multiple users can access the model any time).
Energy consumption, building positions of each element (for example a wall, or a certain roof structure) can be shared before the project goes out for tender. Time and cost scheduling can be applied for several versions in the design phase. The common data environment (CDE) works like Google Drive – all possibilities and versions are stored on the system. Professionals can ensure each design element is correct before it is sent to the contractors.
Q: What are the highlights for contractors around BAM?
It is important to remember that even if the design phase went smoothly, architects, developers and construction companies understand that the transfer between design and construction phase bears the highest risks. Having a BAM in place will minimise miscommunication and effectively create a virtual model which is used by site managers and contractors. The model enables them to work more precisely, entering crucial information from the various tradesmen (for example piping, plumbing, steel work, roof design) in order to construct and measure exactly what the architect has designed in the design phase, whilst optimising lead times and cost savings with time wasted on physical measuring of 2D drawings.
The BAM will enable accuracy, less clashes in on site design, reduced site labour and precise quality management. Advanced BAMs even add microchips to certain elements (such as a prefabricated cement structure) in order to ensure it ends up at the exact location the item needs to be installed. This technology has for many years been used effectively in the car manufacturing industry and is now beginning to take off in the construction industry.
Q: Why should asset managers get excited about BOOM?
Did you know that building operations are 20 to 40 times the cost of design and building throughout the building’s lifecycle? BOOM will enable an accurate record of a facility which is easily accessible at any time. The information will include space management (assignment of a department or occupancy tracking) to ensure optimal usage management. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing drawings can easily be filed within the facility management system. Maintenance, repairs and energy consumption can be monitored. Labour costs can be successfully tracked throughout the facility’s lifetime.
In the BOOM context, barcoding can not only be applied during the construction phase, but also during the maintenance phase. This allows for monitoring of specific building items exactly like an asset management system. This can then track lifecycle of various parts, the installation dates, physical properties, etc. During BOOM the system acts as a record keeper, warranty manager and maintenance scheduler.