Building Information Modelling (BIM)

What is BIM?

There are many definitions of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and a general misunderstanding that BIM is 3D and complicated. 

BIM provides a framework for project delivery, construction and in operations management that can be used throughout the entire life-cycle of the project. This is more about providing the right information in the best format to allow others in the process to make better decisions. Where 3D aides communication it is relevant but for a facilities management team working from daily maintenance sheets, 3D offers little value and, in fact, would be a hindrance.

Why are we doing BIM?

As designers, we wish to produce better performing projects that deliver what the client wants, within budget, to the agreed time frame and that are fit for purpose. The UK Government’s additional objective is to reduce the capital cost and the carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment by 20% through project implementation and planning policy.

How do we achieve this?

Within the construction industry, we have seen how adopting digital processes has improved back office systems and project management but, whilst created digitally, we are still largely building from 2D plans and elevations, with disassociated specifications and bills of quantities, in the “hope” we get it right! Building our projects in a virtual world before we build them in the real world provides us with the opportunity to identify and correct issues before we get on site.

The concept of a “digital twin” is not new. Consider the aeronautical, automotive, and manufacturing industries. Not only has technology and robotics changed production processes but prototyping has revolutionised the way these industries make things. Building an asset (project) in the virtual world before we build it in the real world has significant benefits, including: reducing time to market; enabling early testing of construction, performance and safety; unravelling deign complexities before they become a problem; reducing costs and increasing profits; removing geographic boundaries as no physical objects need to be exchanged; and, using the model to “drive” construction, for example driverless earth moving vehicles, 3D printing and off-site fabrication. This engenders a “get things right first time” mentality and can significantly improve construction processes and health and safety on site.

The ultimate objective of BIM is to create a digital twin of an asset that will, or does, exist in the real world. This virtual representation allows us to minimise costly (money and time) mistakes during construction, plan maintenance, predict change and consider “what-if” scenarios in the future. When this digital twin is linked to the real world asset, via real-time sensory feedback systems, it will allow us, through the Internet of Things, to understand how a feature is performing within a complex and changing environment and where the digital model becomes an early warning system of unforeseen change.

This digital transformation is already starting to influence construction processes and is the basis behind the UK BIM Framework - an overarching approach to implementing BIM in the UK. This supersedes the levels of BIM, which served their purpose but were difficult to define, and is expected to provide a co-ordinated approach to UK BIM.

The good news is that Keysoft Solutions software allows you to quickly generate 3D representations from 2D geometry and assign data that can help with project collaboration. As our products are AutoCAD based, the DWG files can be shared within design teams for project coordination or shared with non-AutoCAD, BIM-enabled software using our BIM exports, including .IFC, and ESRI Shapefiles.

We work closely with our customers to ensure we continue to deliver solutions that meet the increasing needs of designers that work within a BIM environment. For more information, see the boxes below.