Sunday, August 9, 2009

Articles about BIM on a Construction-related blog-site

What you'll read below (if, in fact, you take the time to read it)..... comes from a blog I came across this morning. That blog is located at

The author (a construction professional) wrote this as part of an article he posted on July 30, 2009. Since I've written posts about BIM in the recent past, I thought I'd post this guy's comments:

Can anyone say 3-D?

The capabilities of three dimensional CAD programs, otherwise known as building information modeling (BIM), are just beginning to become known and explored. There are of course the obvious benefits of conflict resolution with everything from a door swing to MEP and steel coordination, but the benefits reach much further.

I’ve seen millions of dollars thrown in the street due to lack of drawing coordination and conflict resolution in the field is extremely expensive. Often times the conflict will be partially fixed or not fixed at all which detracts from the quality of the project.

Beyond conflict resolution, the entire job can be estimated and viewed in three dimensions prior to lifting a shovel. The construction process can even be modeled in 3-D to look for conflict of equipment. I recently worked on a casino where concrete cranes and steel cranes were working in very close proximity. We didn’t use BIM but it would have helped significantly to avoid delays caused by cranes being too close. The steel contractor submitted a $200,000 change order for delays caused by the concrete cranes.

I just found another article about BIM that he posted on his site (on March 25, 2009), so here goes.....

BIMing our way to better building

If the construction industry was the auto industry, then the advent of Building Information Modeling would be the equivalent of the invention of the assembly line. And if the construction industry was the textile industry, then BIM would be the equivalent of (dare I say) the cotton gin.

But since this is reality, and the construction industry could arguably be more similar to the entertainment industry than manufacturing or textiles, BIM is in the very least a technology that could produce great advancement in construction practice.

While BIM is in fact an underground rock band from Bangladesh, for our purposes, BIM is a method of modeling a building in three dimensions that integrates design and construction. This means that not only is every item in the building its own independent object, but the construction schedule can be modeled as well, producing a virtual construction illustration prior to breaking out a shovel. If you add an accounting element to this, BIM becomes 5 dimensions of valuable information in one model.

I attending a BIM conference and panel discussion in Philadelphia last week put on by Stephen Jones with McGraw-Hill Construction. Also giving presentations were representatives of contractors, architects and even law firms. The benefits of BIM were not difficult for this panel of professionals to illustrate, there was even talk from the legal side of making three dimensional models legal contract documents. However, the biggest problem presented was the reluctance of members of the AEC world to adopt this technology and feel comfortable with using it.

The construction industry has historically been very resistant to change and a new technology is often perceived as risky and when something has perceived risk, contractors treat it as a deadly tsunami of uncertainty.

Stephen talked about the glut of baby boomers at the management level in companies that are perhaps stalling the advent of new technology in hopes of it surfacing after their departure and hefty retirement payout. But as a baby boomer himself, Stephen is a strong proponent of BIM and suggested its use to be pushed rather than stalled. The benefits in coordination of design consultants and subcontractors as well as conflict prevention lead to undeniable cost saving to the owner, and far fewer headaches for designers and builders.

After working for nearly three years on the Arrabelle Hotel construction in Vail, CO, I saw literally millions of dollars thrown away from lack of coordination between the MEP trades with structural, architectural, and interior design work. BIM would not only have saved the cost of this conflict resolution but perhaps could have reduced impact to a project that was woefully behind schedule.

We need to embrace this change rather than shun it. It is obviously the direction in which our business is moving and the more time we spend stalling, the more time we spend in the two dimensional world of mediocre building and stagnant business practice.

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