The Purpose of BIM: IPD to Life Cycle Management
When envisioning the future through the eyes of an early 2000’s film, we see men dressed in sharp, all-black suits, women in sleek, all-black dresses, and almost all business processes completed virtually. Phone calls are made through technological-emulated telepathy, balance sheets are brought up and thrown around a corporate board room on a series of screens mirroring a Tony Stark creation, and we see security officers responding to seeing breeches in a building through a hologram. The hologram always struck me: how could the security officers see through the entire building and manipulate the model? How did they know where the attackers were? Of course, the concept, Hollywood animation at the time, is encroaching upon reality. The future of BIM lies in life cycle management.
Currently BIM acts just as the acronym implies, for modeling of a building and information extraction from the model. The system works from the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process of construction which ties together architects, engineers, construction companies and owners. Through BIM, all stakeholders in the construction of a building can contribute.
Architects typically rely on the modeling aspect of BIM. Through the software, architects can create the drawings of the building, a model of the building (of course), a virtual walkthrough of the building for the client, as well as a vast array of visual aspects to the overall design of the building. The modeling aspect of BIM currently contributes the majority of the current use of the software. Of course, the information derived from models produced by BIM still plays an incredibly important role—and arguably the most important role, depending on which stakeholder you are in the process. The information is used to create estimates and schedules, decide on critical points in the construction of the building, and ultimately to sell the building to the owner and make a profit for the CM firm.
The current state of BIM is incredible: over the last two decades, construction has changed more than in the last two millennia, and largely due to the adoption of the software. BIM has always been about streamlining data and communications from a construction aspect, but the future of BIM takes streamlining one step further—to interoperability from the erectors, to owners, maintenance men, and end users of the building.
Life cycle management through BIM allows the model and information to be leveraged throughout the entire life of the building. From the software, owners could schedule maintenance and users could plan additions or analyze energy usage for sustainability. Of course, for the simple interoperability to occur, BIM must be simplified immensely to a substantially more user-friendly level–a feat not easily conquered. Although seemingly far-off, the conceptual days of holographic building manipulation via the streamlined usage from IPD to life cycle management through BIM are quickly approaching.
On the Horizon of BIM
All too often I find myself nearly completed with a project in Revit and I realize my lack of adding information into the model. I need summaries of costs associated with the materials in the building, cost per square foot, panel schedules, optimizations of the model, energy analysis and a whole host of information-driven items, which all too often I cannot create quickly due to my lack of using the tool to the full potential.
Of course, all the information discrepancy lies in the lack of identity data for the various components in my building design. From there, a breakdown of room costs, overall building costs, energy analysis, and all other comparative and analysis functions Revit can do, Revit then can do.
As a high school senior with limited experience and education with the data associated with the intricacies of flow rates for MEP systems, cost data, or Uniformat, I am highly unable to create information for the components which Revit requires to analyze. And although I am in no regards a professional architect, I suspect architects and common users of Revit know all of the needed information either.
The design of a building alone stands as nothing less than a masterpiece. All the information associated with the design can stand as much more: smart.
Currently, very limited standards exist for BIM software. Such a lack creates inequalities in depth of design for both the building and more prominently the components within the building.
In an attempt to create a community workspace for BIM operators in which to share families and components, Autodesk created Autodesk Seek.
Although the components from the online warehouse can serve the purpose of design or layout, more often than not, the models come very generically information wise if drawn by Autodesk or loaded with intricate, unexplainable parameters, poor constraints, and a lack of cost data if drawn by a manufacturer.
Needless to say, the two very different levels of information causes some issues down the road in the design to delivery cycle.
The future of design lies in an operation-to-drawing-board approach. The user comes first. Inasmuch, a standard upon which to design from BIM-wise sees all the more calling as the future draws near.
With the rivalries for market share never ending, I cannot imagine a full-tilt, industry-wide warehouse upon which components for the various BIM software may arise in the near future. But with Autodesk’s innovative nature and record, a calling for standards of acceptance to Seek does not appear out of line.
The cliché proves timeless: we are on the cusp of something great. Hopefully, with the trend of BIM acceptance and implementation, standards do not live so far in the distance. Design smart. Build smart. Live great.
Thank you Elijah Gregory for your dedication to BIM and collaboration, and for writing these great posts! You can read more of Elijah’s writing on all things BIM at Sean D Burke’s blog Paradigm Shift http://www.seandburke.com/blog/2014/09/02/the-vdc-cycle-leveraging-the-i-in-bim/