Site Manager Rod Arkle has produced a number of Bitesize BIM articles, here is the first edition:
People have been managing and creating information for others, particularly in the construction industry, for as long as man has built things, be it pyramids, cathedrals, roman amphitheatres or mud huts. This was in the form of simple drawings on floors, on parchment or papyrus.
Nowadays the amount of information generated on even the smallest projects is vast and to disseminate this to the people that need to see it and act on it in an integrated way is extremely important for businesses and projects to work efficiently. Organising often complex and varied information from a myriad of sources into an organised whole can be very difficult.
A lot companies involved in the construction process are aiming to take advantage of this new way of looking at the collection, storing and sharing of information.
The people within your company charged with the successful integration of these ideas and protocols will understand BIM inside out, but there will be others both within your company and without who may not have the time or the inclination to try to understand BIM and so we hope that this will be useful and give those people a grasp of what it is all about.
What does the acronym BIM mean?
Building Information Modelling or Management has been around since people started exchanging information in order to get something built. BIM is not something that is entirely new or different. But the way in which the government and the industry would like information to be managed now, and will insist on in the near future especially in contracts procured from the government, has this BIM acronym attached to it.
Interpretation of BIM will probably depend on where you sit in the construction chain.
B stands for Building but that does not always mean it is just the envelope of a building, it could include everything within it, and it could easily encompass a wider view of the infrastructure or landscaping surrounding it. It does not describe anything about recycling, sustainability, supply chains, strategic decisions, regulations or design briefs.
I is the most straightforward letter as it is meant to convey any information either graphical or non-graphical that is gathered during the design, procurement, construction and eventual operation of the asset.
M can be for modelling or management it does not really matter either way. But modelling can suggest that it is just a 2d or 3d model of a project, or possibly a simulation of how something works. BIM is so much more than that, so management is probably the better description. The BIM model the government would like us all to aspire to will include all the information generated from all the parties involved in creating a project from the moment a client thinks it might be nice to have an office, hotel, factory or hospital etc until the asset reaches the end of its working life. That is a lot of information that has to be organised into a whole entity.
BIM will be about cooperation and teamwork very likely between companies who at the moment prefer to keep their way of working and their business practices to themselves It also recognises that information can’t just be produced, stored, held on to and not shared.
If you wish to share this information around all who are involved in a project then it must be readily accessible and understandable by those who need to use it, and the companies involved need to be open and willing to operate in a collaborative environment.
In his next article Rod will describe a BIM model in more detail, how it is set up, who is involved and the principles behind the BIM approach to managing information.
In preparing this article we have made reference to and used some of the information from several publications and websites. They are listed below. We recommend you use them for further reference.
BIM DEMYSTIFIED 2ND EDITION. STEVE RACE. RIBA PUBLISHING.
MODERN CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT 7TH EDITION. FRANK HARRIS, RONALD McCAFFER AND FRANCIS EDUM-FOTWE.
The BIM Task Group
Rod Arkle, Site Manager, Robert Woodhead Limited