How BIM can impact infrastructure projects – Infrastructure Magazine
Building information modeling (BIM) allows construction companies to create 3D models of their projects, and is among the top priority investments for these companies in the next five years.
This is because they acknowledge BIM is helping and will help represent the future of their projects, and companies, and even the industry as a whole.
It may seem curious to think of BIM as part of the future of construction when it’s actually been around for quite some time.
For nearly 40 years, BIM has been a mainstay in architecture circles within the industry. But it’s only really gained ground in actual construction over the last two decades. If your company is among these near-future BIM adopters, what impact can you anticipate for your projects?
Financial efficiency with better use of capital project data
To appreciate BIM’s potential impact, we can look at aging infrastructure projects throughout the US. There’s growing attention on these due to various states of disrepair or lack of safety. It is possible to theorize that at least some of this could’ve been addressed and prevented had building information modeling been around during their creations.
Having to rely on traditional construction practices involving 2D drawings and decentralised project details can be very limiting. Think of all the data that starts rolling in from day one. Data continues to accumulate when the completed project has been handed over to the owner’s operations and facility management team. It can be somewhat of a challenge, not to mention overwhelming, to track and understand everything.
But that’s where BIM can help. What often makes it stand out is the BIM model’s ability to link directly to all the details associated with each individual element, from the smallest nail to the largest volume of concrete. Those include all usable and actionable data, including size, current cost, replacement value, lifespan, warranty information and more.
These specific details – or project intelligence – can be leveraged again and again throughout the project’s construction and beyond from within its own common data environment (CDE).
The key is to enter all that data into the BIM model during the estimate phase so it can serve as an interactive reference going forward. That’s when it becomes the foundation for data-driven decision making.
Consider the choices that have to be made early on. Based on the model-linked data, the owner, contractors and other stakeholders can evaluate and agree on the most appropriate material and equipment options to invest in for the project, based on cost effectiveness, durability and/or repair record, for example.
Those preliminary decisions can help prevent costly later-stage change orders and rework, and may contribute to a longer life and optimal function well beyond hand off to the client. Stakeholders from those older infrastructure projects may have made different decisions with ready access to centralized, actionable data about structural integrity and required maintenance.
Once those designs and material choices are locked down, the quantities tallied in the BIM model become the source for a highly accurate inventory order for your procurement team. That alone removes a potential ding to your bottom line right out of the gate. How? Think back to the times you wound up with excess materials you paid for but didn’t need, all because of a miscalculation. Or you had to place a last-minute order for materials that were insufficiently counted in the estimate. The result is less unnecessary spending on unintended overages or rush delivery fees for potentially higher-priced materials for which you found yourself short.