What is Building Information Modelling?
There are many definitions used to define the Process of BIM and the simplest one so far defines this process as simply, Virtual construction, whereby all the disciplines and concerned parties get to experience the construction be it a building or an item of infrastructure virtually before it is built physically. Care should be taken not to confuse BIM with software as software is just but the tool that is used to facilitate the virtual construction.
BIM seeks to create intelligent objects when creating a model that is a true representation of the actual facility that is to be constructed. I will illustrate the concept using a beam whereby during the "virtual construction", information about the beam is intentionally added to the beam model. Information includes but is not limited to its Geometric definition: (Length, width, depth, volume, weight), Design considerations; (Class of concrete, Connection details and relationship with other building components, Loading, fire resistance rating, quantity and position of reinforcement), Cost, Cement manufacturer details, Steel manufacturer details, aggregate source etc. When this information is collected for all the items (nuts, washers, bolts, nails, toilet and lighting fixtures, escalator systems, tanks, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors....you get the picture?) within a construction then you get to appreciate the amount of data and countless uses it can be put to during all the phases of the facility i.e. during feasibility study, conceptual design, detailed design, construction and facility management.
Information within the resulting intelligent model brings advantages that include but not limited to; Solving problems before construction through better coordination and accuracy.
Developing greener designs through earlier decision control and analysis tools. Better marketing opportunities through enhanced 3D communication and faster delivery of design iterations. Delivery of more projects within the same time through reusing data. Better facilities management from the already captured manufacturer and component details that is embedded within the model.
BIM is not industry specific, it cuts across all built sciences disciplines be it Civil/Structural, Electrical and electronic, mechanical, process and instrumentation, quantity surveying, architecture and construction.
Why should you care as an Engineering student?
As a country, we borrow a lot of our design methods from the British standards and EU codes of practice and these regions are already making it a mandatory requirement that public projects be done to a certain level of BIM which in a few years will also be extended to our local construction industry as a policy. As a matter of fact, some local projects are already being implemented to a certain BIM level as that is a requirement from the client and firms without BIM capacity end up not getting the jobs while those with some form of BIM capacity end up being overwhelmed with work.
BIM integration as part of facility design and management is an expensive venture to implement and that is why I believe our universities are the best starting point towards implementing the same as that is the point where creativity and open mindedness exists within the student and teaching fraternity. There is a demand for individuals who can use BIM ready tools and the market already has a shortage of such individuals.
Students, take note for the era of BIM is here and the best you can do is be ready.
For further information about BIM you can reach me through waigwa@ cadtech.co.ke
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