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What is BIM and why is it important?

Short explanation for beginners.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a necessary part of the construction in the Industry 4.0. In a short way, we can say that BIM is a process in which you can work with the information of a structure.

How does BIM look?

This definition of BIM is very abstract and could mean different things to different stakeholders, so let's use an example of the most common housing object: window.

As any stakeholder in the construction business, your job in the BIM process is to create digital information. As an architect, in your design software, you will create a wall, put a hole in it and fill it with a 3D representation of a window. It doesn't matter how it looks, since you add properties like "type = window", "color = white", "width = 2000mm", "height = 1500mm". Anyone who receives this information later would know what you meant. As a site contractor, you will read this information, but you need to order the window so you will add more properties: "material = plastic", "glazing = triple". As a manufacturer, investor, or facility manager, you keep using the properties, changing them, or adding more. In the ideal world, the facility manager, immediately after the construction finishes, receives all information about our window: who manufactured it, what is the warranty, when was it mounted and so on.

Picture 1

It doesn´t matter, from where you get the information, and which systém you use, since everything is up to date. The digital age is about connecting apps and about information exchange. And "working in BIM" means the ability to create and share and receive information, no matter if the information is a 3D design, product specification, contract, or decision made on site.

Why does everybody want BIM?

A common problem in any industry (and also life) is a misunderstanding. If only there was an effective way how to explain everything so everyone else would understand 100%. Unfortunately, there is not. But we can keep trying and BIM helps us with that. According to EU studies, automation in the construction industry will save 10-20% of costs. Imagine that you are an investor - Wouldn´t you like that? No wonder that governments require BIM for large projects already. That means architects must deliver BIM models full of information instead of papers and also contractors are obliged to update the BIM model during the building construction.

Map of European countries with BIM obligation dates.

How is BIM done?

It is not more work for architects, contractors or manufacturers, it is a completely different workflow, working with different materials - for example, architects do not deliver a bunch of papers on site, but just a flash drive with their BIM model full of information. Workers open it on their tablets and check where the pipes go. The contractor sees on his computer if they are mounted. Or the investor sees where the money goes in his mobile app. Actually, this is a reality nowadays.

Construction site worker.

Endless possibilities

With all the information about structures, with BIM you can do miracles. You can connect your lights and locks to the cloud and be a part of the Internet of Things. You can get someone to change your pump in the basement just by clicking a button. You can make a reconstruction of your building that will perfectly fit the old one. Maybe the AI will help you do that. Everything is possible. And that is why everyone sees the future in Industry 4.0 and BIM. Be part of it, as an architect or a manufacturer.

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