BIM: Digital Mock-Ups for Construction
The digital revolution is also affecting the building and public works industry, and BIM is one of its essential components. BIM is completely changing the way a structure or infrastructure is designed. By offering complete digital continuity, it also meets the construction needs for the advent of intelligent buildings and smart cities.
What is BIM?
BIM is an acronym for Building Information Modeling. BIM encompasses all types of infrastructure, not just buildings. It, therefore, concerns the civil engineering sector, technical networks (telecom, electrical, etc.), or public works. In addition, it encompasses all phases of a project, not only the construction phase.
The BIM is, therefore, an innovative working method. It gathers a set of digital processes that allow the establishment of a complete and shared database by taking all the data from the project. These data include all the technical and functional characteristics of the work, throughout its life cycle, from design to construction, but also during the use of the work and its possible demolition.
In concrete terms, BIM is a collaborative digital platform where the various parties involved in the project can enrich the content in real-time and consult all helpful information. As such, BIM greatly facilitates the feasibility of projects, firstly by modernizing the collection of all information relating to it in a digital file, but also by giving the possibility of exploiting all the data thanks to very successful technological processes. In addition, it allows for interoperability, which was previously quite difficult to implement, since it ensures digital continuity regardless of the software used, particularly thanks to the IFC file format, which is open source and free.
As you can see, BIM is much more than a simple model since it can consider all aspects of construction and allow for simulations, data exchange, etc. It is, in fact, an accurate 3D parametric digital model that contains intelligent and structured data. For example, BIM can show the ecological footprint of a structure and that of the materials used, the properties of each object as well as their relationships, structural calculation analyses, or even compliance with standards or the budget.
What are the advantages of BIM in the public works sector?
The advantages of BIM are multiple. First, as explained in the previous paragraph, it dramatically facilitates interoperability around a project, but that’s not all. BIM is a real revolution for the project owner, project management teams, architects, design offices, and public works companies. Its main advantages are:
Interoperability: BIM allows for digital continuity of the project between each participant, thus strengthening and optimizing collaboration.
Cost and time saving: virtualization, planning, and other simulations save a lot of time and are better organized. In addition, the better organization tends to optimize safety on construction sites. Moreover, budget control tools help to reduce costs and avoid certain budgetary incidents, such as when modifications must be made.
A better quality design: conducting analyses, controls, and simulations early on during the project study is possible. Thus, the slightest problem, whether technical or otherwise, can be detected before work even begins. This results in better design quality, also made possible by better use of the available resources.
Improved maintenance of the works: every built piece must be regularly maintained and checked. BIM offers the possibility to manage technical maintenance and facilitate the traceability of all operations already performed on the structure.
BIM has many other advantages. For example, it can be a great ally in studying the ecological footprint of a building or structure for construction or renovation to improve its environmental performance. By using the 3D digital model from the beginning of the project, even before the design of the structure, it is possible to determine the energy efficiency of a building to ensure that it enters the field of sustainable buildings. Indeed, many characteristics are taken into account to determine the energy consumption of a building (insulation and heating system, location and orientation of the building, etc.), and BIM tools make it possible to design buildings that consume less and less energy.
Finally, BIM has a promising future in a building and public works market that is increasingly oriented towards modern solutions such as additive manufacturing (construction using a 3D printer), intelligent buildings, and smart cities. Indeed, the collection and digitization of data constituting the BIM are perfectly coupled with the phenomenon of Big Data at work to make buildings, networks, and the various working methods “smarter”.
Although all have not yet adopted BIM, it seems the future will give it an increasingly important place in the building and public works sector.