The BIM technology is the basis of the digital transformation of the built environment, a trend which is part of the fourth industrial revolution. The crises that have successively affected the world in this millennium have imposed the need for extensive digitalization in all areas, including the construction industry. For decades the construction sector has struggled to deliver projects on time, with the planned quality and expenses. The reasons for the construction sector lagging behind other industries can be found in the insufficient use of advanced technologies, such as information technology, prefabrication, robotics, etc. With the implementation of advanced technologies (including BIM), the construction sector is on the verge of drastically changing the way of designing, building and managing the built environment. The process of changes is irreversible, and the results are more than encouraging.
For a long time, the benefits of using Building information modeling were not measured, i.e. there were no generally accepted methodologies that would provide precise figures. The benefits were generally presented as case studies and interpreted by companies that have successfully completed a BIM project. Over the years it became normal to hear that BIM saves between 20-50% of time and budgets compared to the traditional 2D CAD (Computer Aided Design) approach. There have been calculators for calculating the Return on investment (ROI) with the use of Building information modeling for 20 years now. In 2004 the reputable internet portal Cadalyst.com published a methodology for determining the return on investment with a formula, which initially showed a return on investment of 60% (the article is available on https://www.cadalyst.com/aec/calculating-bim039s-return-investment-2858).
More recently, particularly popular is the calculator of the Scottish Future Trust for return on investment (available on https://bimroi.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/login) used in Great Britain. In 2021 the European Union, on the other hand, through the Directorate-General for Industry and the EU BIM Task Group presented a methodology for measuring the costs and benefits of BIM for public projects throughout EU. The methodology refers to all phases of the lifecycle of buildings and is accompanied with a handbook and a calculation tool. In this way public institutions have practical support when planning investments and tenders. The methodology is available at https://ec.europa.eu/growth/news/costbenefit-analysis-building-information-modelling-bim-2021-07-05_en.
The abovementioned calculators are meant for individual projects. The benefits of using BIM in projects are much greater for the state than the calculators can calculate. Dr. Llewellyn Tang from the University of Hong Kong at the BIM Talks x Research Forums in 2019 presented some incredible figures – 808 billion pounds in direct and indirect benefits for Great Britain after BIM was made mandatory for public projects in April 2016.
Revolution in the approach to the built environment
Revolution in the design process
BIM basically revolutionizes the cognitive process in the design by leaving behind the 2D design method. In the traditional 2D approach, designers think on the basis of 2D sketches, in other words, they use 2D projections to link the fragments of the designed building. The inability to simply look at the model significantly limits the cognitive process. On the other hand, the BIM tools provide a third dimension or the possibility for creating and exploring a virtual 3D model ensures that the designers have a different approach and control over the design. The BIM model is seen from the start in 3D from different perspectives, in different ways, with the option of using technologies such as AR/VR (Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality).
Information in Focus
The basis of the BIM technology is the BIM model, i.e. the 3D virtual model of the building/buildings. The BIM models try to be an “exact image” of the physical structure that is planned to be built. BIM models are intelligent as a result of the numerous information stored in the BIM models through their elements. Data in BIM models are crucial for making analysis and decisions, even for real time decision making through the Digital Twin technology. Then information from BIM models is linked to technologies such as GIS, Smart city, etc. allowing for faster and more efficient planning and better quality of life in cities and the environment.
It seems that BIM technology is the link that connects new technologies in one intelligent technological ecosystem. This ecosystem has the job and potential to solve the civilizational problems threatening to paralyze the world. The population boom is expected to result in 10 billion people by 2050, 75 percent of which will live in cities. In the context of these expectations, the only way for the construction sector to be able to respond to the demands will be going completely digital, with a wide application of advanced technologies. In addition to better efficiency, quality, optimization and control over projects, the benefit of using BIM is also seen in the possibilities for improving the built environment’s sustainability. And sustainability is the new measuring unit for everything.
About the Author
Architect and BIM Consultant at ZWEI, BIM instructor at SEMOS Edukacija.