BIM Implementation in the Company
It was clearly stated in the previous article that Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a model-based technology linked with a database of project information, and the technology is based on three pillars: 3D, Information, and Collaboration. So, the success of the implementation of BIM technology depends on how common the understanding of BIM basics and their benefits is among all participants and how comprehensively approached it is within the company.
It was always challenging to introduce a new idea or product into any environment and achieve distribution in production.
Modern society seems to believe that mobile phones have always existed, and only our parents and grandparents probably remember the painful addiction to them. But I still remember the first difficult lessons I took in AutoCAD at university. Imagine how difficult it was for designers who were accustomed to drawing on paper to use 2D CAD software for construction in production. However, after only a few decades, no one goes out without a smartphone, and of course, no one produces drawings on paper.
The sudden arrival of Building Information Modeling (BIM) led to a split between those who, without hesitation, accepted the new regulations and those who are used to working the old way and simply afraid of change. But even in this case, a complete transition of the design and construction industry to BIM is inevitable.
What, Where, Who, How?
Answering the questions 'what', 'where', and 'who' will allow us to answer the 'how' to successfully implement, ensuring that it takes root from the very beginning.
What are the expectations?
In other words, what goals does the company want to achieve using BIM? Automated clash analysis, measurement of the number of facility elements, and cost control can be good places to start. The ambitious goal, such as eliminating the use of paper drawings on the construction site, can be achieved after a number of successfully completed projects in BIM.
For purposes and objectives determining BIM uses, it is worth referring to the BIM Use Classification System and Structure1.
Where should BIM be placed in?
In an architecture studio, an engineering firm, a general contractor, or other type of construction company?
From the type of construction company depends on the 'what' and 'how' answers, especially the choice of software. For example, it can be Customer platforms or construction project management software for small businesses. Additionally, BIM could be the customers' requirement. Therefore, it is necessary to address these requirements, which should be recorded in the Employer's Information Requirements (EIR) in general practice.
Who will implement?
An external consulting firm or the company will do it on its own. The organization's size, previous expertise in BIM, the availability of staff for ongoing projects, etc., could influence this decision.
How to implement and how achieve the diffusion of BIM in production?
Bypassing the main stages of implementation: Preliminary (Planning) Phase, Training Phase, Application Phase.
1. Preliminary (Planning) phase
Before a company embarks on the implementation, it is important to ensure that the entire team understands the fundamental principles of BIM and the process of transitioning to new ways of working and collaborating. The enhancement of the level of proficiency within the organization and the implementation of a strategy are both factors that contribute to this objective.
- Increase the competence
To achieve this, it is suggested that a brief introduction to the fundamentals of BIM technology be given to those involved in the design and construction phases.
The course format can be in the form of either offline conferences or online webinars. During the meetings, it is necessary to acquaint employees with industry trends and the benefits of technology for each role: customer, designer, builder, and others. The primary objective of this stage is to prepare (engage) the employees for the forthcoming modifications in the company's operations.
- Develop a strategy
An implementation strategy should include a detailed plan, roles, expectations, and realistic milestones. It is important to coordinate the strategy and all subsequent BIM activities with the initiative group within the company. The implementation plan might be corrected after the practical education that follows. A BIM implementation strategy is a comprehensive document that serves as the central reference point for all participants in the implementation process. Despite its complexity, it must be simple and understandable for everyone. It is recommended to choose a visual format for its presentation and always be unobtrusively visible.
The introduction to BIM fundamentals and strategy development may be conducted simultaneously.
So, here are some practical tips:
- Define BIM software for construction;
Considering software features like interoperability and collaboration options, license term and type, update method, and expenses. Therefore, for designers, it pertains to specialized software, whereas for construction management, it pertains primarily to builders’ project management software and Mobile Apps for Construction.Figure 2. SIGNAX INSPECTION – remote project management software
- Establish study groups;
Classes of architects, engineers, project managers, and construction site representatives.
- Choose a test project;
The training should be carried out on a test project, but not on the current one. A good choice is one of the recently completed projects.
- Draw up a program and schedule of training;
Training should be part of the employees' work time, not their personal time.
- Fix frequently asked questions and topics of concern during the education;
This will aid in the planning of the forthcoming training program.
- Analyze with the implementation customer after the training is finished;
It may be necessary to correct the plan.
- Establish the requirements for BIM models.
After completing the training, the workers can clearly discern the specific applications of BIM for the particular project, evaluating the amount of effort and time required.
2. Application Phase
If a technology is not implemented, it is not considered to be implemented. Therefore, the concluding phase of the implementation procedure entails the development of the actual project using BIM technology.
Here are the steps for direct BIM application on a project:
- Define the first project;
Such a project is commonly referred to as a pilot project. When selecting it, it is imperative to consider the impact of the new approach on the development timeline, as it may result in a delay. And the company's management should be aware of this.
As soon as the pilot project is defined, all the following steps must be mentioned in the project BIM Execution Plan (BEP).
- Define project team;
A team like that would have to include representatives from the owner side and all the relevant stakeholders: contractors, facility managers, engineers, and others. There should also be a clearly defined BIM coordination leader.
- Set a list of specific goals for the project;
- Set up the implementation infrastructure.
It is also known as Common Data Environment (CDE)2. This includes setting up quality control procedures and defining communication and information exchange methods.
At the end of the project, analyze the results and capture case studies and best practices for follow-up. Expand your goals by following the strategy.Figure 3. Digital Engineer on site works with help of BIM model
Implementation approach is essential
Many companies work with experienced specialists but do it the old way. There is an acute problem of rejection of the new methodology. Experienced professionals have always been a valuable resource. Therefore, the project's success and the company's competitiveness as a whole depend on its outcome, as well as the possible loss of employee productivity.
Moreover, it is crucial to consider the inevitable process of adoption, which involves the psychological processes an individual goes through. To facilitate adaptation, two conditions must be taken into account:
- New work processes should be exciting for employees;
- Implementation activities should not interfere with the main tasks if they do not entirely coincide.
After successful examples of the application of technology in design, it is important to expand its implementation to related areas, especially in construction management.
Last but not least, the words "inspire" and "force" are synonyms for "implement." So, it's up to the people in charge to make the process exciting and successful.
1BIM Project Execution Planning Guide, Version 3.0, Computer Integrated Construction Program, Penn State, https://psu.pb.unizin.org/bimprojectexecutionplanning
2“Common Data Environments”, NBS, April 5, 2019.