What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling, and is the process of designing a building collaboratively using a system of computer models, rather than separate sets of drawings. By generating and managing digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility, it helps you plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Many people think that BIM means 3D design, but it’s much more than that. It involves not just graphics, but information; information that allows the automatic generation of drawings and reports, design analysis, schedule simulation, facilities management, and more. The output of the process is the Building Information Model - the digital file which describes every aspect of the built asset and can be exchanged or networked to support decision-making.

Objects in the model are linked to related information including manuals, specifications, commissioning data, photos, and warranty details. This allows the owner or facility manager to efficiently and accurately manage the asset.

BIM data can be used throughout the entire building lifecycle, from inception and design to demolition and materials reuse. Spaces, systems, products and sequences can be shown in relative scale to each other and, in turn, relative to the entire project. This eliminates data redundancy, data re-entry, data loss, miscommunication, and translation errors.

BIM software is used by individuals, businesses and government agencies who plan, design, construct, operate and maintain diverse physical infrastructures.

What are the benefits of using BIM?

  • enables the building team to make better-informed decisions
  • allows better design coordination and improved constructability
  • brings together all of the information about every component of a building in one place
  • allows accessibility to this information
  • prevents errors creeping in at the various stages of development/construction by signalling conflict detection
  • creates enormous savings in cost and time
  • provides much greater accuracy in estimation
  • facilitates the avoidance of error, alterations and rework due to information loss.

Prefabrication and BIM

BIM has many benefits for the prefabrication and modular construction industries, too. While these industries have been around for decades, the power of computer programming has brought with it marked increases in efficiencies.

BIM allows you to model spaces and construction drawings not just in 3D but so that the
model knows exactly what material it is working with, what the tolerances are, and can then move
into a manufacturing process in which computers can accurately cut, like in the motor vehicle
world, and robots ultimately complete the assembly.

CEO David Parken

Australian Institute of Architects

BIM facilitates design being more fully resolved and provides confidence that the on-site works and prefabrication elements will tie in as intended. This is crucial to the successful incorporation of prefabrication.

Using BIM and lean manufacturing technology, Interpod Offsite works with customers from design through installation to produce custom, ready-to-install bathroom pods for hotels, hospitals, universities, and multi-unit residential projects.

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and BIM go hand-in-hand for efficient modern construction projects. BIM is a vital part of realising the potential of DfMA, both as a component-driven tool for optimising the modularisation and standardisation that characterise DfMA, and as a way of delivering specifications for prototyping and manufacture.

One of the biggest advantages of BIM’s involvement in DfMA is this reassurance of having tested everything prior to construction, and the resulting reduction of risk that building a reliable product brings.

Using DfMA processes and guidelines driven by modularisation and standardisation, manufacturers gain the leverage they need to introduce lean manufacturing principles. DfMA is naturally suited to building types with inherent repetition such as student accommodation and hotels, as well as sensitive locations such as hospitals where it is essential to limit the amount of build time on site.

DfMA has an increasing commercial appeal for clients wanting to build quicker and more efficiently, thanks largely to the added capabilities that BIM brings. 3D modelling allows for the forward planning of the logistics of moving pods around a building and making sure they integrate with the rest of the building.

Software, tools and resources for BIM

When it comes to software for architecture and design, there are a multitude of different Building Information Modelling (BIM) options available to you. Finding the best package will depend on your specific needs, the types of features you require, the cost and the operating system that you use.

Ensuring you are using the right tools is the first step in operating efficiently and effectively. With so many available options across the entire project lifecycle, the main things to consider are the environment the software will be running in, the extent of collaboration and the requirement for interoperability. These sophisticated systems are powerful enough to handle your BIM needs.

Architecture

AutoCAD Architecture

Design, collaboration and documentation can all be handled in this version of AutoCAD which caters specifically to architectural drafting. There are plenty of options to customise styles, interfaces and scheduling.

A 30 day free trial is offered.

Autodesk Revit Architecture

Widely used, this piece of software incorporates modeling, design, lighting analysis, site planning and even visualisation.

A 30 day free trial is available.

Bentley Microstation

This programme can be used either as a software application or as a technology platform for the architecture, engineering, construction, and operation of all infrastructure types. From 2D designs to 3D models, drawing and PDF documentation, this programme can accept a large variety of formats, which is important when working across teams. A number of subsystems allow Microstation to be a great solution where interoperability is important.

A free 30 day trial is offered.

Blender

Blender a cross platform 3D creation suite. It supports modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking. Regular updates are available and a large community is available for support and development.

This is a free open source application and it accepts a number of formats.

Graphisoft ArchiCAD

This software suite has been developed by architects and is a fast, efficient application. It can read cloud points, making surveying and modeling much easier. Documentation support ensures PDF accuracy. Workflow is efficient in both Windows and Mac environments and regular updates keep it performing at its best. There is plenty of video training support.

Various pricing licenses are available and a free 30 day trial is also offered.

SketchUp

This programme focuses on 3D modeling and it houses the largest repository of free 3D models. Documentation and customisation are also handled easily. The software also allows presentations and additional modules for full BIM functionality.

A free trial download is available.

The SketchUp Viewer is a free download so that anyone can view your models.

Structures

Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis

With various analysis methods, this application is fully automated, allowing for modeling and simulation. Collaboration and reporting are made easy, with extensive interoperability and compatibility with Autodesk products and other BIM formats.

A free trial is offered before committing to purchase.

Video information is available here.

Tekla Structural Designer

Tekla Structural Designer is a fully automated application that can handle everything from concrete and steel comparisons to profit maximisation. With full modeling and documentation capabilities, reporting is made easy. Integration is possible with a downloadable file.

A video presentation is available here.

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing

Autodesk Revit MEP

Autodesk’s Revit includes an MEP module that covers fabrication detailing, circuits, design and modeling. Collaboration and documentation are made easy due to Revit’s extensive interoperability and compatibility features.

Videos of specific features can be viewed here.

Bentley Hevacomp Mechanical Designer

This module of the Hevacomp package allows pipe system sizing, fan and pump selection among other analysis options. Reports can be generated to help reduce capital investments and energy costs.

A product tour video can be viewed here.

Digital Project

The MEP / Systems Routing extension for this high performance 3D and BIM modeling platform allows 3D modeling of pipes, plumbing and electrical systems. Detailed spatial analysis can be conducted.

Construction (Simulation, Estimating and Cost Analysis)

Modelling

Bentley Navigator

The Navigator application gives teams the ability to analyse projects virtually, minimising errors and preventing conflicts. Documentation is easy and 2D and 3D models are easily viewed. With powerful modeling capabilities and collaboration features, this is the perfect addition to a project team.

Tekla BIMSight

Downloadable, with the ability to combine models, check for conflicts and communicate any issues, this software package is a powerful collaborative tool. Tekla also has mobile compatibility, which makes it easy to view and collaborate on the move.

Innovaya Visual Simulation

This package supports MS Project, Primavera and other 3D design programmes to implement 4D visualisation. This allows the analysis of constructability and the built in project management tools will help improve workflow.

Estimating

Innovaya Visual Estimating

Supporting Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD Architecture and Tekla Structure, this module is an efficient way to produce accurate estimations. It’s 3D environment is great for collaboration and full compatibility with MC2 ICE or Timberline databases guarantees stability and efficiency.

RIB iTWO

This platform allows full integration of the project lifecycle, from design, estimate and schedule, to progress and accounting. The option to use a visual or non-visual model aids reporting and documentation. Due to its highly integrated functionality, accuracy and collaboration are possible.

Vico Software Estimator

Vico’s Estimator programme utilises 3D models to make accurate estimates, while integrating perfectly with the Constructor Model they offer. This makes project workflow more efficient and the application also has a large number of customisable features to further tailor the functionality.

Facility Management

Bentley Facilities

As Bentley’s comprehensive BIM solution for facilities managers, this application allows users to easily manage buildings and better utilise resources. With full integration with the ProjectWise and MicroStation platforms, this is a great solution for Bentley customers across the entire project lifecycle.

Access rights improve security and reporting features make collaboration simple and effective.

A demo can be seen here.

EcoDomus

This is a real time data focused application that has extensive integration with key automation systems. A 3D interface and detailed data reporting allow managers to manage costs and efficiencies.

A demo video can be seen here.

Onuma System

Web based and with extensive integration options, Onuma System is a comprehensive facilities management application. It incorporates planning and project phases, with easy collaboration due to its cloud based environment.

Pricing depends on plans but is charged on a per user basis.

Sustainability

Autodesk Green Building Studio

This software allows the detailed analysis of building energy, on a whole building basis. Cost modeling and detailed data including weather is available, making this a powerful suite. Carbon reporting, water usage and ventilation are all incorporated. The modules are offered to existing Autodesk customers for greater integration.

A free trial is offered, as are student licenses.

Bentley Hevacomp

This simulator software provides an easy way to conduct a building energy analysis using 3D modeling. Certificates can easily be produced and the EnergyPlus standard is adopted in all projects.

A product tour video is available here.

Graphisoft EcoDesigner

An addition to the ArchiCAD suite, this extension offers full energy modeling capability with an efficient workflow and many standard compliant engines. Weather, energy performance and ratings are all possible.

No separate download is necessary.

More resources to keep you up to date

Staying abreast of changes and finding trusted resources can further assist you in keeping up with the industry. With so many systems, standards and developments in the BIM space, it is useful to have a repository of resources to keep up to date:

Blogs

AEC DevBlog

The AEC DevBlog is a great resource for those that use the Autodesk suite of products.

Beyond Design

The Beyond Design blog is also run by Autodesk and provides tips, tricks and insights into BIM development.

(bim)x

The (bim)x blog showcases developments in the BIM industry.

Practical BIM

An excellent educational resource, this blog is full of tips, tricks and information on all things BIM.

The Revit Kid

A great resource for video tutorials on Revit products.

Libraries and other resources

Arcat

An excellent free resource for CAD and BIM models and objects.

Autodesk Seek

Great for Autodesk users, this is a comprehensive and free store of relevant models and objects.

NBS National BIM Library

A well known source for free objects, this store is popular with all industry experts.

As such a large and technical space, BIM has no shortage of support and resources. Choosing the most applicable software packages and utilising the many resources available will help you across the entire construction lifecycle.

Top