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BIM ― A common language

BIM generates savings by providing a highly accurate central database of as-built and plant (machinery) information
BIM generates savings by providing a highly accurate central database of as-built and plant (machinery) information

BIM technology served as a universal platform for engineers, architects, technicians, plant operators and others in the team in the extensions to The Royal Melbourne Hospital in Victoria, Australia

Globally, the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems is undergoing a massive up-take in the building and facilities management industries. BIM systems have rapidly moved from being an innovation to now becoming widely adopted as standard practice for this industry. The reason for the mass adoption of BIM systems can be attributed to the key role they play in consistently delivering facility managers savings that are equal to or greater than the entire original cost of the building itself, even when adjusted for inflation.

According to the US-based Whole Building Design Guide, lifecycle cost analyses reveal that it typically costs three to five times as much to maintain and operate a building than it originally costs to construct. In Australia, facility managers report, “The vast majority of Australia’s major contractors, subcontractors and suppliers embrace BIM, which has the capacity to cut facilities management costs by 30%.”

Effective from this year, The United Kingdom government requires collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects. “Essentially the UK government has embarked with industry on a four-year program for sector modernization with the key objective of — reducing capital cost and the carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment by 20%.”

Singapore also has a well-earned reputation for early adoption of groundbreaking technology. The Singapore government is leading the way by creating a state-wide information model. The Singapore Land Authority is mapping the entire country to produce a high-resolution 3D national map that supports the operation, planning and risk management needs of government. Industry will be able to incorporate this information into its own BIM platforms.

Braith McClure, General Manager, AAM Survey, is a BIM advocate. “The advantage of BIM is that it enables collaboration with engineers, architects and everyone on the construction team. They can see how changes will impact the build and surrounding environment — it becomes the centerpiece for better communications, well-coordinated construction and happier asset owners,” says McClure.

Types of BIM

New construction: For new developments, building information modelling commences as a desktop-based foundation model. Spatial input starts early with surveyors helping to determine how the development is going to interact with existing structures, features and precincts. Then each construction discipline contributes its own data to the model, which provides a combined view of an entire project. Data recording the materials, functions, size and manufacturer’s details of all elements are embedded within the model.

Existing buildings: For existing structures, it is a survey-based foundation model. Buildings (especially heritage ones) may contain elements hundreds of years old or of unknown origin, so models are initially developed from a high definition survey and populated as more information is uncovered.

What is BIM?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility/building/structure. It forms the primary shared knowledge resource about a facility, and becomes a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; from earliest conception to demolition.

What are the Key Features of BIM?

IM delivers benefits across a building’s lifecycle:

  • Building design/optimization: The foundation is based on accurate and complete spatial information
  • Construction: Accurate spatial input for set out and as-built
  • Ongoing operation: All that hard work and discipline in creating the BIM are now seen by the building operator. They have a complete, accurate and up-to-date model of their facility.
What is BIM?
What is BIM?

“In existing buildings, for example, we may scan pipes but not know the details — construction materials, what it is used for, where it comes from or goes to,” explains McClure. “These details can always be added by the architects or engineers later on. It is a continuous system of ever increasing facility information.”

What are the benefits of BIM?

The BIM itself, and the 3D modelling that AAM populates it with, helps form a common language for engineers, architects, technicians, plant operators and everyone in the team. “The diverse range of professions and personnel who can benefit and apply a BIM never ceases to amaze me,” says McClure.

Its benefits begin even during design and pre-construction. “Clash detection, for instance, is a very easily-articulated benefit of accurate survey data and point clouds that form a BIM.”

BIM can aid in the early identification of design issues such as clearance infringements and clash detection, removing difficult re-design during construction
BIM can aid in the early identification of design issues such as clearance infringements and clash detection, removing difficult re-design during construction

Accuracy and veracity

Benefits of this technology were realized in the extensions to The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) in Victoria, Australia, which was part of a major upgrade to the precinct. The hospital needed to increase its service capacity through the addition of four floors. In addition, two link-bridges were built from the existing hospital south wing to the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The builder was in possession of a building information model for the existing hospital, based on information of unknown accuracy or quality.

This BIM, built from 3D terrestrial laser scan data foundation, includes complex construction elements
This BIM, built from 3D terrestrial laser scan data foundation, includes complex construction elements

However, the architects were not confident that it was accurate enough for construction tolerances — particularly for the link-bridge interface sections of the project. To update the BIM, AAM performed a terrestrial laser scan (TLS) of the hospital. The new as-built data upgraded its contents to a level of detail suitable for construction purposes. The most cost-effective solution for RMH was to update and develop the RMH BIM only in areas where critical information was required. This achieved the dual project aims — for the construction company to be confident with the accuracy of the model information accuracy and to minimize unnecessary expense for RMH.

We are seeing the BIM becoming the centerpiece for better communications resulting in well-coordinated construction and making for happier clients.
Braith McClure, General Manager, AAM Survey

AAM’s ability to input directly into the BIM (Autodesk Revit Model) reduced the project timeframes and costs while improving the utility of the BIM.  The high-density laser scan proved invaluable in upgrading the BIM through its ability to accurately acquire site information. Up-to-date modeled elements were directly created in Revit. In some areas, windows and columns were displaced by up to 150mm, which were easily detected by comparing the as-built point cloud with the existing Building Information Modelling. The use of TLS and the spatial upgrading of the BIM ensured the model was accurate enough for construction design. Project architects were assured of the veracity of the BIM, with the added advantage of being able to verify or amend critical interfaces with the new building works.

Courtesy: AAM