Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's BIM ... ... continued

That's why such topic is tricky: I was asked to write a "simplified" version of yesterday's. OK, never mind!

Building Information Model, in essence, is a technology platform upon which professional from AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry could work and share data collaboratively and efficiently.

It starts with a computerized 3D model of the subject building itself. Throwing away the legacy concept of 2D paper drawings, designers will no longer "draw" plans and elevations, but to build up a 3D model straight away in computer. 2D drawings are only flattened representation of the 3D model automatically generated by computers.

There are many advantages of using 3D model right from the start. Architects and building owners could appreciate the design visually in computer to foster confidence of the final outcome. Engineers can do analysis and design using computerized methods that usually require 3D models to base on. Last but not least, adding attributes to the 3D model, quantity sheets of building materials can be generated by computer to assist QS in tender preparation. With BIM as the common language, various design team consultants can fulfill their specific task coherently and consistently.

Design tasks will not stop when building projects enter construction stage. Contractor's proposal, design-and-build items, provisional items, detail design of specific building component, choice of propriety products, to name just a few, are the reasons why BIM is useful to contractors in the way designers do during design stages. Moreover, adding time and resource data into BIM, contractors can simulate construction activities inside computers to testify the workability and/or streamline the production processes. By shifting the try-and-error process from construction site to virtual environment, project risks, and hence a lot of money, could be saved which at the same time, help saving our environment by reducing unnecessary waste.

When the building is ready to handover to its owner/operators, the BIM will become a total digital replicate of the building itself. Today's technology allows us to link any intelligent contents, say maintenance log-book or manufacturer's web-site, into BIM to faclitate the operation of the building. It enhance facility managers to retrieve building information effectively and at the same time migrate their practices to a computerized and integrated platform.

While fulfilling its functions in design, construction and operation stages of a building, BIM could be cited as a building-life-cycle managemet tool. This is the vision that today's AEC professional opt for in the coming information-intelligent era.

Well, sounds more legible? I'm not so sure ... ...

Monday, November 12, 2007

What's BIM

Never imagine to write such a tricky topic. Just today my boss asked me to write it down I guess it's time to share my understanding of it.

Building Information Model, in general, is a data management tool, specialized in building-life-cycle data management.

The word "Model" have different intrepretation. One very common is: "3D-model with embedded data about anything of a building".

In broader sense, "Model" have speaking term with "Methodology". In this domain, BIM would mean "a Specialized Method in managing Building Information". The database so described will not necessary follow the "real-form" of a building (i.e. 10 storey building = 10 folders of file containing 3D-model and related data), but be anything that will facilitate the management of data about a building. You can imagine a magical drawing rack which will throw you the precise information about anything of a building upon your verbal request.

To give another example, in a set tender documents, the tender drawings is a kind of BIM; while the specification book will be another, though both are old-fashioned and deficient. A good BIM should encapsulate the capability of both, in addition to other intelligent contents: e.g. maintenance log-book, hyperlink to manufacturer's web site, a video of presentation by the architect.

All in all, the form of BIM, today, usually come with the former case: a 3D model with embedded or intelligently-linked data. Just bear in mind that there are other possibilies than this.