Optimizing decision making with BIM
“To be careless in making decisions is to naively believe that a single decision impacts nothing more than that single decision, for a single decision can spawn a thousand others that were entirely unnecessary or it can bring peace to a thousand places we never knew existed.”
? Craig D. Lounsbrough, Flecks of Gold on a Path of Stone: Simple Truths for Life's Complex Journey
Construction is an inevitably sequential process. One thing leads to another. Reversing a previous action is costly, time-consuming, and hard. On the other hand, a well-considered decision can set you on the path to successful project completion with the most optimized investment of effort and resources. So, how can we improve the chances of optimal decisions?
BIM or Building information modeling is already becoming a mainstay of the architecture, engineering, construction and operations industry. But with BIM, a carefully curated building information model can also be utilized for making better decisions about the planning, design, development, and operation of the facility.
Incorporating BIM in construction projects allows the following possibilities:
1. Optimized construction planning: The centralization of data in BIM facilitates quality control early in the project lifecycle. The data updated by all the concerned parties helps in creating a 3D visualization of the final facility. The 3D visualization helps in analysing the practicality of the design – whether the design can be implemented and what is the best way of doing so. Such decisions, when taken at the right time, show an impact over the entire lifecycle of the project.
2. Quantity estimation: One of the most wasteful tasks in a construction project is deriving accurate estimates for the quantity of the required raw material. A construction project can be marred by both over as well as under estimation of the quantity. BIM helps drive much better decisions about the accurate quantity of raw material required. It also allows much better decisions to be made about when these materials would be required. This eliminates waste and allows the project manager to adhere to the projected budget and maintain an efficient logistics schedule. That, in turn, results in avoiding time lags caused due to unavailability of raw material.
3. Better collaboration and communication: BIM technology allows easy collaboration and sharing information in real-time between teams and stakeholders. This ensures that all the team members have access to up-to-date project data at all times, anywhere. The accessibility to accurate data helps in eliminating construction errors during the design phase. The elimination of design error help saves time lags during the construction phase caused due to rework or redesign. Time is an essential resource in a construction project. Any time saved is money saved in terms of labour hours and logistics.
4. Better coordination and early clash detection: The BIM-facilitated seamless coordination between all the concerned parties allows the team managers to identify clashes as the construction proceeds. Such clashes cause rework that brings in delays and wasted effort. Even as such clashes may not be apparent very early in the design phase, even within the short term if teams become aware of impending clashes, they can plan for workarounds and plan the immediate effort much better.
5. Safety and risk mitigation: Construction safety is in focus now. This is even more true when the construction site is in harsh or hazardous locations. BIM gives site managers and others tasked with safety, the most accurate and comprehensive data about the construction facility that allows them to make better decisions about the construction keeping safety in mind. For instance, if the model shows that as the facility takes shape a particular stage could present some specific challenges then the option is available to call for some expert help, deploy technology or add more resources at that point in time.
6. Operations and facilities management: A construction project generates humungous amounts of data which can be very useful for the continuing operation and facility management of the building. The collated data in BIM makes it easier for the facilities manager to make better plans for the ongoing management of the facility. The as-built feature comes handy for driving better decisions during renovation or refurbishment works. The digitally centralized data makes it easier for the operations and facility manager to access information regarding the building, which in turn promotes data-driven decision-making about the smooth functioning of the building during its lifecycle.
The most crucial thing in any project is the ability to make/take efficient decisions at the right time. The efficiency of decision making in a construction project is mainly dependent upon the availability of data. BIM offers an abundance of accurate and current data about the project in one central location. The accessibility of the information enables accurate decision-making across the project lifecycle, right from planning through the construction and, even, into the maintenance phase.