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Operations & Maintenance

7 Reasons to Use BIM on Your Future Construction Projects


From bridges and hospitals to Olympic swimming pools and Google HQ, building information modeling (BIM) is used all over the world, for vastly different types of projects. Increasingly, technologies that use BIM are seen as an indispensable communication and organizational tool.

And for good reason. BIM delivers cost savings and improvements to scheduling, cost controls, project coordination, quality control, and risk management – especially when you’re working with large, complex teams or intricate projects.

So why isn’t everyone on board?

One barrier is the common misconception that incorporating BIM into your project planning and coordination means switching to a completely different way of working. That’s not the case.

You’re not so much changing the way you work as enhancing it.

The fundamentals of planning and scheduling remain the same. The real difference is that you can work faster and more efficiently, gaining real-time visibility over every part of the project. The aim isn’t to discount the GCs’ experience and insight from the decision-making but to give them the tools and information they need to make critical decisions swiftly and with confidence.

Here are 7 ways BIM helps contractors to improve their job site management.

1. It Makes it Easier to Stay in Budget
With BIM, all your project information is stored together in one place. You can track real-time progress and analyze the financial performance of the project as you go along.

This makes it much easier to estimate costs accurately, ensuring that your budget always reflects the reality on the ground. It helps you to manage orders and supply chains, ensuring you have what you need when you need it, limiting wastage, redundancy, the risk of oversizing equipment and so on. It also means you can spot – and avert – potentially expensive issues before they arise.

All of this leads to cost savings, preventing unexpected issues from eating into narrow profit margins.

2. It Improves Communication
BIM makes it far easier to keep everyone in the loop, at every stage of the project. Stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date project information and models. They can see exactly where you are in the process, preventing misunderstandings and clashes. It acts as a single, and latest source of truth that your whole team can trust.

3. It Reduces Risk
The more accurate your plans, budgets, and schedules, the lower the project risk. Not only for this particular project, but for future ones, too. That’s because BIM helps you to standardize processes and document exactly how you reached a successful outcome. The knowledge isn’t lost or forgotten at the end of the job.

4. It Saves You Micromanaging
If your BIM tool offers schedule management and 4D workflow features, this adds tremendous value. Think about it from the perspective of the schedulers on your project – the ones that own and manage the master schedule.

On a complex project with a lot of work crews, these guys can quickly get overburdened. They’re fielding constant calls and queries, having to update everyone individually after any small change to the plan. But sweating the small stuff isn’t necessarily the best use of their expertise.

Instead of getting bogged down in every tiny detail – or spending half their week updating people in meetings – schedulers can free up time by using a BIM tool to delegate the detailed parts of the schedule to the locations teams that will handle these tasks. Individual crews can see for themselves what needs to be done in their area and how it fits in with the larger schedule. They can then organize their time accordingly and then send this back to the main schedulers for sign-off.

Schedulers free themselves up from unnecessary hand-holding and duplicated effort. What’s more, because it’s all digitized, accessible and updated in real-time, they don’t need to waste time bringing everyone up to speed. This can free up huge chunks of their week.

5. It Keeps You On Schedule
The time savings delivered by BIM translate into streamlined workflows and fewer delays, too, making it far easier to stay on schedule.

It also helps that contractors have total visibility over the progress of the project so they can see at a glance where bottlenecks or other problems are forming. Armed with this insight, they can make critical decisions about the best course of action, preventing small problems from escalating and impacting the overall timeline of the project.

6. It’s Fast Becoming an Industry Best Practice
When it comes to BIM, the secret is well and truly out. More and more developers and building owners are aware of the value this technology brings to scheduling and project management. This not only helps contractors to stay on schedule and within budget but also makes the whole process more transparent. This means that contractors are increasingly required to use BIM.

That said, no one expects you to use BIM for absolutely everything. This isn’t about revolutionizing the way you work; it’s about fixing the headaches. The technology you choose should help you pinpoint, anticipate and find ways to address problems that crop up during your project. But ultimately, you’re the expert. You know what those problems are likely to be. It’s up to you to decide where BIM will be most useful to you, and where it’s not worth using for this project

7. Because Every Project Is a Prototype
Using BIM for a big, complex project like an airport, hospital or laboratory is a no-brainer. These types of buildings are intricate designs with tons of process piping and coordination challenges. You do need to think through every element in fine detail, well ahead of time – which means you could do with BIM on your side.

But no two construction projects are the same. Even a relatively straightforward structure can present complications and hurdles.

Take a big box store construction project, for example. The core structure is a pretty basic shape that’s quick to build. Do you need BIM for that? Well, it certainly comes in handy when you’re tackling precision tasks, like lining up steel beams with the embed plates in your concrete wall panels. Even if you only use BIM on this project to help you coordinate the placement of embedded steel in your formation, this could prove to be a game-changer.

Plus, if you have components of that building that need to be repeated over and over, you must get it perfect. Otherwise, you might replicate the same problem over and over before you realize your mistake.

The Bottom Line: BIM Makes the Most of Your Expertise

As we’ve seen, the point of using BIM is to free up GCs and schedulers to focus on high-level planning, management, and coordination.

Keep in mind, that to get these benefits, you need to choose the right kind of BIM-based tool. If it’s going to make your job easier, it needs to be accessible enough for your team to pick up and use without learning any new, specialized skills. At the end of the day, the aim of any technology should be to streamline and bring efficiencies to your workload, not to add to it.

Want to discover how Hexagon uses BIM in our SmartBuild platform? Click here to find out more.

About the Author

Brian is an experienced corporate marketing, sales, consulting services and engineering professional with more than 39 years working with engineering systems supporting the AEC industry. He has worked on design teams in: wastewater treatment, petrochemical, fossil fuel and nuclear power plant, product design and manufacturing facilities, utilities, biotech, pharmaceutical and government lab facilities and transportation. He is degreed in computer aided drafting and design, graduating Suma Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University and is also certified in mechanical engineering technology, graduating Suma Cum Laude from Sawyer School.

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