BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a term that has been steadily getting popular in recent years.
It is a sophisticated process of improving the results of all project phases using structured digital information. The popularity of BIM as a new approach for the AEC industry is hard to overestimate, since every single part of it – be it the architectural sector, the engineering sector, or the construction sector – can reap a variety of benefits from the introduction of BIM, reducing waste, performing risk assessments and clash detection checks, and more.
One of the most significant advantages of BIM for any industry is that it works with the project from start to finish, supporting different project parts and working with all the various stakeholders that are involved in project creation. BIM managed to revolutionize the entire construction industry by offering every single participant direct access to building information, with the ability to collaborate with other team members and communicate their own views on the project’s current and future state.
At the same time, taking advantage of BIM is not that trivial of a process, and plenty of companies still lack a proper understanding of what BIM actually does, or what it is capable of doing. For example, BIM’s wide array of capabilities can be separated into groups called “BIM dimensions”. They represent every single additional “dimension” that BIM can use in its model, starting with the traditional 2D and 3D used in CAD models, and continuing with some of the more complicated “dimensions” such as scheduling, estimates, and more.
First of all, we have the original 2D dimension, consisting of an X-axis and a Y-axis. This is how most models were created for the longest time in the construction industry, and this particular dimension gets less and less attention these days, since CAD drawings have been able to create 3D models for a while now, and hand-drawn models are practically obsolete at this point.
Speaking of 3D models, 3D BIM can be considered the most popular BIM dimension at this point since it is not that different from 3D CAD models that the industry was using for a while now, and all of the companies know how these models operate. The biggest difference between a BIM model and a CAD model when it comes to 3D BIM is that BIM offers much more information about every single element of a project, be it graphical or non-graphical, creating something called a Common Data Environment (CDE).
4D BIM is where “dimensions” become less physical and more abstract. The number “4” in the name represents 3D + scheduling, meaning that the existing 3D BIM model receives additional scheduling and time-related information, allowing for better coordination, better cooperation, lower delays, fewer disputes, and so on.
There are also plenty of other BIM dimensions that are far less widespread than the previous ones – but they still exist, and can still be beneficial to the overall project realization process in one way or another. For example, the fifth dimension of BIM, or 5D BIM, is the aforementioned 4D with the addition of cost estimation capabilities. It adds information about every single asset within a BIM model, with the ability to calculate the overall price of a project, calculate a specific part of a project, re-calculate the total project cost after every asset change inside of that model, and more. The addition of 5D BIM also helps a lot with performing project estimates very early on, as early as a design stage of a project – including both the total project cost and the cost of every potential change or modification to it.
There are also dimensions such as:
- 6D BIM, which is all about project lifecycle data;
- 7D BIM, responsible for adding facility management data to a BIM model, and more.
However, none of them are as popular as everything up to 4D BIM at this point, which is why the combination of the basic 3 dimensions of a CAD model with the addition of a time factor is something that is worth looking into.
4D BIM is one of the most popular BIM dimensions outside of the original three-dimensional CAD-like approach, it includes data such as construction and installation periods, lead-time, interdependencies with other areas, curing and drying allowances, and more. This kind of data allows for far more detailed and specific planning operations to take place since there is only one source of information about the entirety of a project.
This particular “time” attribute can also help with a more thorough visualization of the project’s future steps, allowing for a detailed presentation of how the project is going to look at every single phase – including both the building in question and its surroundings. It is a massive benefit for every single team that aims to improve their work efficiency at different project creation stages.
Additionally, the 4D BIM dimension is incredibly helpful when it comes to speeding up the overall project delivery process while also eliminating the possibility of various last-minute reworks and changes. This, in turn, reduces material consumption, reduces waste amounts, and reduces budget spending.
Surprisingly, the 4D dimension in BIM can be used as early as the tender stage, allowing for a quick and detailed demonstration of your own methodology or tactic to improve your company’s chances in the selection process. It is a great tool that can be a massive help for a variety of different specialists, including many variations of planning experts.