Opinion

4D BIM is an area of interest for General Contractors; Why?

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Being a building design and construction design support service provider, we ensure to meet the exact requirements of our clients; mostly general contractors. What we hear very often, is that they ask for building construction designs that get easily approved, as in BIM 3D geometry; but with little more specification about how their work will progress. Basically they ask for suggested construction schedules for keeping their project investors updates.

But at times, their projects hold multiple complexities and have several design bottlenecks, especially for designs of airports, damns or multi-facility hospitals. Such projects are executed by a chief contractor with a number of sub-contractors. Each has their schedule to follow and deadlines to meet, due to which there usually are collisions happening, conflicts arising on site and unsaid friction each day. These contractors thus demand a federated BIM model that can streamline their work.    

Don’t go haywire, plan with BIM

Although as the construction work proceeds, their schedules are updated and refined frequently due to multiple unavoidable challenges. But if there is a comprehensive and as-built digitized documentation prepared and handy on-site, these contractors would face challenges of a little mild intensity.  A close integration through federated BIM models will essentially generate coherent program activities and construction schedules. The greatest benefit would be for the critical activities, managing process, logistics and interdisciplinary communication across the project tenure. 

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Take 3D BIM to 4D BIM

While 3D BIM geometry is comprehensive with graphics and attached, overlaying texts, it somewhere fails to suffice the need to explain construction management tasks. This perhaps the reason general contractors are seemingly more interested in 4D BIM, lately.   

Creating a 4D plan from readily available 3D designs on a BIM platform will give the project team a view of activities and progress simultaneously. A sequential timeline video prepared in Navisworks will add to the value for scheduling. It won’t be much to say that 4D BIM simulation will eliminate the as-built, and markup drawings will help in keeping a track of progression, at least until the facility is constructed. It instantly becomes easier by to know and actually visualize what is planned and what is happening out there on the site.  

Don’t talk to investors, show them

With 4D BIM simulations, contractors get an edge of showing their work schedule to management and not just talk. When the stakeholders and project investors come asking for updates, 4D simulations play a great deal of convenience to chief contractors.  Even the sub-contractors find these simulation and timeline videos to be beneficial where they can simply pull-up the videos and display their work. Their sequence of work can be rearranged and items in priority list can be moved up or down as per project investor’s opinion. 

Future is digital, work yourself up

Since BIM has been in AEC industry for a decade, it goes without saying that the future is digital and there is no looking back, only forward. More contractors are turning to 4D BIM for the ease in communication, simplified work, and streamlined activities. BIM has an impeccable way of influencing AEC industry. Anyone who isn’t moving from 3D BIM geometry to a federal BIM model isn't going to hold themselves up with quickly escalating digitization.

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Hiral Patel

Hiral Patel is a news editor and has been contributing to the AEC industry since last 7 years. She mainly writes about the application of BIM across Architecture, MEP and Structural sectors. Her focus is towards encouraging construction companies, sub-contractors and architects to adopt right technologies to improve efficiency and profitability. Learn more

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