What Is BIM?

BIM, the acronym for Building Information Modelling/Model gives explicit instructions on the process of designing a building collaboratively using a single, but coherent set of computer models, rather than separate sets of drawings. It portrays the digital representation of functional and physical characteristics of a facility, where the knowledge base will be shared among those involved in the project right from conception to demolition.

It acts as a reliable base for decisions during its lifecycle. You can also say that BIM is a meeting, or a marriage of a group of work processes with technology, and it brings everyone together in a multi-disciplinary method. Hence, BIM is multi-disciplinary in nature, and it has transformed the way buildings have been designed in more ways than one. In this article, we attempt to look into how BIM has metamorphosed the world of construction to include new concepts that brought everything in a platter before they were actually built.

The world before BIM

The term “building model” was around for ages, but the concept, in terms of BIM was first used in the papers in mid 1980s. However, the popularity of the term rose to gain global attention only about 10 years ago. And eventually, about 10-15 years ago, it grew to be one of the hottest topics in the field of construction. More and more businesses began to integrate this concept into their work in order to gain better accuracy.

According to the US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee, the definition of BIM goes in this manner – “Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.”

Until then, building designs were largely dependant on the two-dimensional technical drawings like plans, elevations and sections. Later, this was enhanced through the use of 3 D technology which proved its worth by augmenting the three primary spatial dimensions like width, height and depth. The entire building industry went through serious transformations when 4D was introduced, and this went even a step further with the coming of 5D. Through 5D, businesses were able to calculate the costs of finished projects, and this helped them to take measure to stay within the budget.

Getting a little in-depth behind the BIM concept

Through BIM, the engineers and contractors come up with designs containing explicit detailing on what they are about to make , and vague and undefined thoughts would be given solid shapes, complete with their geometrical attributes and relational meanings. Through this concept, they can draw different views of a single room, perfecting the imperfections as they go about it, and once all the points are covered, they would be automatically consistent, and would be based on a single definition of each object instance.

This is all done through the help of BIM software where the objects will be defined parametrically, meaning the objects are drawn in terms of parameters and relations to other objects. If one object is amended or modified, automatically, the software will amend the rest of the objects in relation with this, complete with budgetary requirements, the materials to be ordered and so on.

The professionals involved in the design team would comprise of architects, surveyors, civil engineers, building services engineers, landscape specialists, structural engineers and so on. They would hand over the BIM models to the main contractors, who will then hand them over to the sub-contractor and from there to the original owner or builder.

Going a little in-depth into what BIM can do

Let’s now explore what BIM can do to the 6 main industries in the world of construction: Architecture, Civil, Construction, Plant, MEP and Structural.

BIM and architecture

With the help of BIM software, you can capture the maximum potential of your creative ideas. Add the competitive edge to your field of business by incorporating optimised designs that exude accuracy and professionalism bordered on quality and efficiency.

Through interoperable tools, you can create better documentation and impeccable model fidelity. Virtual Reality helps you create immersive visualisation where you can produce high-quality work.

BIM and Civil

BIM plays a crucial role in civil engineering and Civil construction. Through the software, you can capture survey data within hours and days when compared to the weeks and months you’ve spent on it. And it is also possible to improve the insights at each project development stage. Stakeholders are also pleased because they have information about the project at their finger tips. The connected workflows aid in improving the predictability and productivity and through that profitability of the project.

BIM and Construction

Construction went digital with the help of BMI, leading to an agile industry where there was a better environment for providing innovation in construction. It helps unlock new business opportunities by connecting information and increasing productivity.

BIM and Plant

Multidisciplinary teams can integrate their plans, design and build different phases of their project with help of piping and instrumentation diagrams and piping models that communicate with each other. BIM can help you bid better projects, increase your chances of winning them by successfully beating competition.


MEP stands for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing. You can increase design quality and collaborate with the team members in real time to hasten project delivery process, however complex it may seem. The detailing will be immaculate, with stunning design quality, increased collaboration & reduced chances of risk.

BIM and Structural Engineering

Detailing tools have aided in bringing new business to companies that have embraced the BIM technology. This helps them to deliver more projects in the shortest detailing, but with no compromise in quality, as they can connect their designs to workflows, streamline them to help ensure better designs.

In India, the term for BIM is VDC or Virtual Design and Construction, and India’s expanding construction market has already accepted the concept into its fold.

Interesting links about the topic:
What Is BIM?
How can BIM help you??

Pictures: Flicker.com / tec_estromberg/ Penn State

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at www.Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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