World over, industry segment after industry segment is benefiting from adopting technology and the construction industry has no choice but to follow suit. This is where Building Information Modelling (BIM), is revolutionising the way the construction industry works worldwide. While internationally BIM has gained mass popularity in recent times it has been around in one form or the other for years now. Even in construction projects in India, both public and private, BIM is making an impact. This post is a call to all engaged in the construction business in India to embrace BIM.
But first, for those who are still unsure about what BIM is, here’s a refresher. BIM is a multi-dimensional graphical representation of a construction project. It is the visual representation of the infrastructural design that highlights the physical and intrinsic features of a plan. In a very real sense, it allows one to build virtually before you have to build physically.
The BIM approach helps in understanding and eliminating any issues that might arise during the construction phase. The three dimensions of BIM when married with parameters like time, cost, and the project lifecycle management creates a 6-dimensional model that becomes a common frame of reference for all stakeholders. This allows the architects, engineers, and builders to plan and execute the work efficiently by eliminating or minimising likely obstacles they may face during the construction process. It facilitates sound decision making thereby making the project management efficient by curtailing the various project costs.
Dr. Anil Sawhney, Associate Dean, RICS School of Built Environment has this to say, “BIM adoption will be crucial for real-estate and infrastructure development in India. Increased competition, pressure on margins and stiffer regulatory environment require that we embrace BIM as it extends the capacity of the project team to start thinking about time, cost, quality, sustainability and other pragmatic parameters in the early stages of a project.”
Why adopt BIM?
Time and money are the most critical aspects in construction or infrastructural project, and BIM helps the stakeholders – engineers, architects and builders to work in tandem and derive an accurate estimation for both. This helps in controlling project costs and facilitates efficient project management.
Here are the top 5 reasons why the Indian construction industry should adopt BIM:
1. A real view of the project
A drawing on paper has its limitations which BIM surpasses by creating a real-life model of the incepted design. This real-life model helps in providing an accurate vision of how a particular building or an infrastructural design will look upon its completion. The designs carved out on paper tend to undergo modification during the construction process due to its inability to cater to the issues of the actual construction. The digital design provides much deeper insights into the nitty-gritty of carrying out the construction of the design.
2. Eliminates unbudgeted changes
Building a virtual model through BIM helps in creating a single system of record that all the stakeholders subscribe to. This common understanding helps to drive all discussions and plans. That, in turn, helps in curtailing the unbudgeted changes made on-the-fly during the construction phase. The virtual model provides a practical view of the construction progress. Comparing the actual site as-built with the BIM model projected at that point in time provides a transparent data point for identifying deviations. This means that there are no last-minute changes made to the design during the construction period. This also helps in controlling construction costs due to unforeseen changes in the actual design.
3. Cost monitoring
The biggest challenge in a construction project is to curtail the project cost. The project cost is dependent upon the estimation of time, quantity of materials required, and the labour. We have spoken of how time can be saved with BIM. That apart, it becomes easier to control costs through the accurate estimate derived from BIM. The virtual model provides the most accurate estimations that cannot be calculated otherwise. Materials can be ordered only for the quantity required only at the time required. This eliminates wastage through over-ordering, delays due to under-ordering, and also eliminates material loss and costs of storing on-site.
4. Streamlines work
An infrastructural design is bound to see thousands of changes until the construction work is completed. Paper drawings become a hassle while trying to maintain and record the changes made to the proposed design. BIM reduces the chances of extra work or re-work. The model can be updated easily due to its digital nature. All the changes that need to be made to the actual design are instantly adapted into BIM. This record is available to everyone all the time as it is accessible to all the concerned parties.
5. Resolves potential conflicts by use of clash detection
One of the significant issues to arise during construction is clashes. There are several activities that could end up getting in each other’s way over the process of construction. For eg. consider electrical conduit or piping going thru a beam. Such clashes can also occur with plumbing, HVAC, and other such activities too. Under normal circumstances, the only option is redesign and re-work at a late stage in the project. The BIM model can help identify these clashes during the design process itself. This helps in saving time as schedules can be modified and plans changed to ensure that there are no clashes.
It’s clear that adopting and implementing BIM can smoothen the way for effective project implementation in the construction industry. This is driving BIM adoption in the developed economies of the world. Given the vast scale of the infrastructural projects underway in India, it is time for the Indian construction industry to welcome BIM technology with open arms. There are at least 5 solid reasons to do so!