There’s no longer any question that Building Information Modeling (BIM) has revolutionized the way the AEC industry operates. BIM has delivered a significant impact on long-term projects in terms of economic as well as technical viability. Owing to the cost benefits and various other advantages from the power of BIM, many countries have mandated the use of BIM technology for public projects. This move, in itself, speaks volumes about the significant potential of BIM technology in a construction project.
BIM applies across the design as well as the construction phase of a project. Of course, the life-cycle of a construction project doesn’t end at the handing-over of a facility; it is a continuing cycle. Many traditional construction projects accepted the project life-cycle to end at the handing over process, but, in this era, facilities management is a part of the construction project, and BIM plays a vital role in helping the facilities managers in operating and maintaining a building.
So, the long-term application of BIM technology ensures the efficient design, effective implementation, and the smooth functioning and maintenance of a building. The objectives of cost, quality, sustainability, and safety can be met efficiently with BIM technology. The collation and availability of large amounts of data at a centralized location have made operations easier for all the stakeholders of a construction project.
Let’s focus on one key community of stakeholders, the Project Manager.
BIM & Project Managers
To a large extent, the success of a project depends upon the capability of the project manager. It’s important that the roles & responsibilities of a project manager should be clearly defined. BIM aids the project manager in fulfilling the onerous responsibilities of the role and duties by providing a centralized system that allows all the expertise & knowledge of all the involved parties to be brought together. BIM offers the seamless integration of information and ideas that help in mitigating clashes faced during the construction phase.
Let’s look into how & why project managers can use BIM:
A successful construction project is a result of hard work and input of various involved teams. Traditionally, every team from architects, engineers, builders, electricians, and operations works independently. BIM brings all of them together and creates a centralized pool of information that is accessible to anyone from anywhere at any time. This feature has facilitated effective communication between all the departments, resulting in perfect coordination in the team. The main task of a project manager is to ensure seamless coordination amongst the different groups, and BIM makes this tedious task more manageable.
Achieving timeline and cost objectives play a crucial role in defining the success of any construction project. BIM allows project managers to draw significantly more accurate timelines and cost estimations. The accuracy of the calculations during the planning phase helps in ramping up the effectiveness of the planning function and improves the financial planning of the project.
Every constructed building ends up being different from its original blueprint. The design tends to evolve as the construction process begins. Over time, these deviations tend to cause time lag and budgeting issues because of the impact on work that follows such changes. Such work ends up having to be changed on the fly, in response to the ground reality. This takes time, costs money, and consumes resources. BIM allows the Project Manager to document the ongoing work better and prevent such situations.
In addition, the clash-detection feature in BIM allows the project manager to identify any issues in the design that could cause clashes between different teams before the construction begins. This helps in saving not only time on redesigning but also the amount of raw material required and ensuring timely delivery of the project.
One of the most demanding tasks faced by a project manager is deriving estimations for the raw materials required. An inaccurate estimation, both over and under estimation, of raw materials, will result in time lag and over-expenditure. This directly affects the budget and timeline of the project. BIM helps in delivering accurate estimations and reducing the burden on the project manager of manual calculations.
The role of a project manager in today’s times is not limited to the construction phase. An effective construction project is one that supports efficient operations of the facility even after the handover. The project manager has to ensure that the facilities manager has all the required information for operating and maintaining the building during its operating life-cycle. The centralization of data in BIM helps make it easier for the project manager to handover information to the FM. The BIM models, by virtue of being updated, tend to reflect the as-built state of the structure better. This ensures that the FM provides updated and accurate information to the facilities manager.
As is apparent, the application of BIM plays a vital role in the management of the project. A project manager can leverage the capability of BIM to deliver a successful construction project. BIM reduces the burden on the project manager of manually calculating and managing tasks. It seems clear that for a construction project to be successful today, project managers would do well to adopt BIM technology.