BIM - Building Information Modelling

BIMIt seems to be the 'hot topic' at the moment, in just a few short years BIM has changed from being something you had heard about, to something you knew about, to something you absolutely need to be implementing in your business. The issue here though is that many of us have no idea what it is and how it will affect us on our delivery.

The drivers couldn't be simpler. Unless you are doing Level 2 BIM by 2016 the government state that you will be ineligible for public sector work. Moreover, large parts of the private sector are following suit with clients such as Circle in healthcare, and BIM for Retail, a collaboration of major UK retailers with a common interest to develop and improve the awareness, skill and use of BIM technology, all pulling in the same direction.

That direction means firms need to get BIM ready or risk falling into a second tier of construction with a shrinking pool of clients. So what is BIM and how can you prepare for it?

According to Wikipedia, BIM is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. The resulting building information models become shared knowledge resources to support decision-making about a facility from earliest conceptual stages, through design and construction, through its operational life and eventual demolition.

However, BIM is not just for buildings, it is for ALL construction works. The BIM Task Group, who are supporting and helping deliver the objectives of the Government Construction Strategy, believes that "significant improvement in cost, value and carbon performance can be achieved through the use of open sharable asset information.  We will also be helping the supply chain unlock more efficient and collaborative ways of work throughout the entire project and asset life-cycle end to end"

Those of you who are designing buildings and other construction works BIM is not new. There are many software packages out there now that aid in 2D and 3D design and modelling required. However, these are 'designer-lead' and the government's strategy is to have all parties utilising BIM thus supporting the full life-cycle from design into operation and potentially demolition.

A BIM model is a digital model of a structure made up of components and details about the components (i.e. what is it made of, its geometry, the surface dimensions etc.) to support everyone throughout the life of the structure.

So what are the benefits? Many say they are numerous (but obvious); cost reduction as the information is shared and we can improve supply chain, value for money as (again) we are sharing information, less data duplication too. There is also the 'carbon performance factor' because we can use state of the art building materials effectively. BIM will also provide a more rigorous design with supporting information when design changes are made.

So what does this all mean? There are many different software technologies out there that do a very good job in their sector, unfortunately this is part of the problem as they do not 'collaborate' with each other. This means you have silos of information that is not shared between parties.

As far as Ai Solutions is concerned, collaborative working is something we have been promoting for many years. With our partners Altius, Watson & Sole, Waste Plan Ltd (to mention a few) we have strived for 'open systems' and 'interoperability'. Our ToolKit CS system wants to speak to other systems to share information and stop data duplication.

We have looked at the requirements for BIM and can reassure our customers that we will be aiming to support BIM in our future product development. With COBie importing and exporting in our structures we can provide and share information for construction projects.

The BIM protocol (BS PAS 1192-1:2013) and other associated standards (BS 8541-1, BS8541-3 and BS 9541-4) means there will be a lot for us all to take on board and, understandably we have to await these standards to bed-in. Apart from the designers amongst you we are still in a state of flux as we all try to understand the variances and the implications. However, a lot of what BIM promotes and supports is common sense really.

For our customers we can provide support during the implementation of BIM and if BIM is where you are going we can be part of your strategy moving forward. Give a member of the team a call on 01525 850080 for more information or visit

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