The Do’s and Don’t’s on BIM by Stefan Boeykens

As the UK moves toward meeting the Government’s BIM Level 2 maturity initiative before 2016, it is important that building service engineers can make sense and effective use of the mountain of data and 3D models at their disposal. Here, Future Thinking ‘BIM: Beyond the buzz’ speaker, Stefan Boeykens, Senior BIM Manager at D-Studio and Guest Professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium, highlights the do’s and don’ts of BIM gained from his experience of recent projects, research and teaching.

When using BIM, engineers can often find the sheer amount of data they are provided with is simply overwhelming. Therefore, flexibility is key when producing BIM models. As larger models often lead to too much detail and little flexibility, the use of larger models should be tempered.

One of the most important decisions that can affect the entire BIM process is the technology and software the models are built upon – and consequently, the interoperable compatibility of the platform chosen. When deciding on software, choosing an open standard-compatible platform means collaboration with other companies and partners will be possible.

Looking at the topic more holistically, the do’s of BIM can be separated into three sub-groups: modelling, technology and organisation of the process.

When modelling, gradually increase the amount of information contained within the model, by starting working with generic volumes and simplified elements, conveying design intent rather than constructability. This process tends to work best because, due to the vast amount of 3D models and information available, it is easy for a BIM model to become over complicated and data heavy. With this in mind, engineers should model as little as possible, with as few elements as possible, in as few files as possible. This will keep the model simple and flexible, moving forward throughout the project, with a better chance of incorporating the multiple design changes that will occur.

As previous mentioned, the technology and software used for BIM is significantly important to the entire process but investment in software, people and knowledge is also vital. By ensuring that engineers are suitably trained on the software, and that the chosen platform adheres to open standards, this enables more effective collaboration between all the professionals working on a project.

Organisation and process is key to any project, BIM related or otherwise. When working with a new technology such as BIM, however, organisation and following process is necessary to ensure all those involved in constructing the model can work together. This is best done through adopting the LEAN principles:
• Specify value – define the value of the BIM model: its usefulness for the project owner and for the construction process
• Map the value stream – define all of the steps of its design
• Establish flow – Identify the flow of information from start to end – allow the models to grow gradually and only add information when relevant
• Implement pull – Identify the need and actual demand of those ‘downstream’ who will use the model to construct the building
• Work to perfection – Eliminate all ‘waste’ activities to ensure continuous improvement – waste of efforts, storage and activities

Through a willingness to learn, collaborate and share, BIM can transform the construction process, making buildings more energy efficiency and cost effective.

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