Opinion

Forward thinking BIM; A walk through the Future

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With an ever rising boom in infrastructure construction and efficient development, it is hard to deny plethora of benefits that BIM offers with accuracy greater than ever. The common data environment has essentially enabled seamless 3D design development, 4D and 5D BIM solutions bring dexterity in contractors’ ability to set the construction sequencing and project financial estimation, and ultimately 6D and 7D BIM solutions have improved facility operations at minimum energy and a smooth maintenance.  EPC firms and general contractors too are employing BIM for building and construction projects that they undertake for executing the most basic tasks. But what lies beyond these benefits of BIM? Is it evolving for future? 

EPC firms and general contractors too are employing BIM for the most basic tasks in the construction projects that they undertake. But what lies beyond these benefits of BIM? Is it evolving for future?

BIM utilization has become fast and their implications on future of construction industry are worth looking at. With new construction management solutions and techniques in picture; there are several key aspects of BIM that are to be reckoned more sooner than later.

Prefabricated and Prefinished Volumetric Construction [PPVC] in a BIM world

Using prefabricated building products allow simultaneous progress of onsite preparations while the off-site processes are on their way. It brings a significant reduction in overall construction period of projects. Not only this, reduced time means lesser costs, delays caused by weather changes are minimized, and contractors can put facilities to operation sooner; generating quicker ROIs. A study report by government publications show that using prefabricated building products improves productivity by 50% and labor by 25-40%.

To elaborate, speeding up of construction not only brings monetary benefits to table, but also a sustainable and ecofriendly future to infrastructure construction. Since more activities are done off-site [in a factory], threat to construction site environment reduces dramatically; and safety of the onsite manpower can be ensured too.

AEC professional are beginning to reckon the efficient usage of PPVC and the way they construct. Owing to several benefits, PPVC is gaining traction across the globe for construction projects ranging from residential to mixed-use buildings. In fact, government of Singapore is regulating to stipulate at least 65% of the total construction floor to be built by PPVC.   

Now, when the world is turning to PPVC, how can BIM stay aloof?

The 3D files used to create fabrication model can essentially be imported by BIM users in BIM tools and used to develop as-built facility model. This highly detailed and coordinated information rich intelligent BIM 3D models allow each trade between contractors, structural engineers, MEP professionals and architects; to be confident. It ensures that their designs and components will be fitted and installed into real world system just as needed. BIM ready models not only allow thinking beyond drafting, but also allow leveraging prefabricated piping and ductworks with more confidence.  

Practicing Virtual Design Construction (VDC) through BIM 

Prefabrication is just one of the upcoming applications of BIM that has evolved as a result of ensuring faster construction process. Another major look around is the amount of waste generated across the AEC industry; resulting from construction as well as demolition. If given a thought and efforts are made, reduction in waste are visibly clearly.

Current construction management practices lack interoperability to share information between software tools used by various project participants, and even if they do, it is very fragmented. If such fragmented information is replaced by a more multi-disciplinary approach, like BIM, waste can be reduced. BIM enabled VDC integrates various phases of projects and allows a virtual coordination between all stakeholders. VDC also plays a vital role in mixed reality solution for construction safety planning, inspection and analyses by efficient collaboration and project transparency.

VDC is said to have the potential to transform work processes with improved efficiency, leading to time and cost savings over the conventional construction practices. The virtual construction sequencing with BIM give insights to contractors; way before actual construction breaks the ground.

BIM is shaping the future; are AEC professionals ready?

PPVC or VDC technologies are shaping the future use of BIM without heavy investments. Seeing the pace at which AEC industry is embracing PPVC and VDC; that day when these technologies are embedded deep into BIM isn’t far. However; it is still important to mark that in order to implement them, and to reap full potential of these technologies across the value chains, employing BIM is still as crucial.

BIM clubbed with PPVC or VDC will essentially support full automation to the industry and bring efficient results by revolutionizing the methodologies at fundamental level. Now the onus lies with the construction industry engineers and contractors to develop digital road maps and ensure a full speed running bullet trains of construction projects by adapting these future BIM applications and solutions.

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Jaydeep Chauhan

Jaydeep Chauhan, a BIM Modeler & an AEC expert active since more than five years in the industry, is passionate about BIM, structural, architectural and MEP services. He loves exploring avenues for Green Buildings & Energy Modeling.

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