Published: 12th January 2016
Many buildings owe their designs to digital software packages like Auto CAD, which for years has been the standard choice for architects and builders who want to create 3D images of an object before it is constructed. The concept of rendering and rotating computer graphics to plan and develop everything from windows and doors to large scale building projects is certainly nothing new, but now the next generation of modelling systems is transforming this fundamental process in the form of BIM.
BIM (Building Information Modelling) takes the concept of 3D rendering to a new level, by allowing designers to view and develop the structural layout of a building and its individual components with incredible accuracy. In essence, it is a software package that is just like a 3D sandbox, which uses virtual building blocks to design complex structures. The astonishing level of depth offered by BIM means that a building can be planned, visualised and modelled right down to the smallest detail, providing an accurate picture of the project before construction begins.
Don’t be misled into believing that BIM is just another 3D drawing package. In fact, it encompasses the entire process of planning, rendering, building and managing a project. Each component of the build is integrally connected to the overall design, so any changes made to a single component will immediately highlight conflicts and issues that will impact on the entire structure. This is an essential aspect of the planning process and particularly effective in avoiding costly mistakes during the physical build phase.
BIM also offers the functionality to embed detailed information into an object to help communicate project decisions and share information amongst key team members. This embedded information can be shared between office and mobile devices, allowing workers in all locations to access essential project information. We now have access to an entire library of pre-programmed components, which can be accessed by anyone via a central Cloud. This means components are available to everyone, whether you are on a site or working in an office.
Successful projects rely on meticulous planning and accurate data, which can avoid difficult and expensive mistakes in the long run. BIM makes the planning process simple and efficient by providing a virtual environment that allows designers to break the project up into individual components. Each component can be viewed and stored digitally, along with detailed information, which can then be accessed by key team members. This provides a valuable audit trail for managing the costs of the project.
BIM is also incredibly flexible and easy to use. It’s ideal for large scale building projects and particularly useful for incorporating standard sized components, such as windows and doors, into multiple building projects, with the same layout and format. Large buildings, such as hospitals and buildings with multiple units can be easily designed with a uniform structure using BIM, saving time and ensuring consistency throughout the design. This makes our projects much more efficient and cost effective. The same principles can be applied to any project, no matter how large or small, because BIM allows us to break down every structure into standard components that can be adapted to any structure.
Anyone working on site will appreciate the usefulness of BIM when dealing directly with a client. A customer can now get a visual representation of how a particular type of window will fit into the structure of a building before the work takes place. This is a valuable marketing tool for presentation purposes, especially when you want to really sell a project to a potential client. BIM allows us to digitally render a structure to scale and highlight the benefits and selling points of the overall design and its individual components. This gives the client confidence in us to provide the best results, whilst also allowing them to make changes before the work takes place. As a result, project decisions about costs, materials and sizes are then better informed by immediate access to the embedded data that has been associated with every component of the project.
BIM is a particularly useful package for anyone working in our industry, which has suffered immensely in the recent recession. The UK Government has also recognised the potential of BIM as an essential component in planning and managing building projects. This is reflected in the Construction Strategy that was published in May 2011, which states that collaborative 3D BIM is required on all construction projects by 2016. In essence, BIM has taken the place of Auto CAD as the industry’s fundamental 3D modelling package.
If you are involved in the specification of products, then it is worth taking a look through our BIM library. At Spectus, BIM has become an essential tool for marketing, planning and managing our business. We believe that BIM will continue to play a key role in our projects, which is why we will continue to develop our online library of BIM components. Our aim is to expand the library by adding more digital renderings, so that there will be a superb selection of BIM models available to everyone. BIM is extremely valuable to architects and designers, but it is also a key tool for anyone involved in a building project, no matter what the scale of the structure.
Whether you need to understand the overall design, visualise a particular component, such as a window or door, or just need access to vital data, such as costs and dimensions, BIM is a central database for accessing and sharing that information. At Spectus, we believe that it is such an important tool for our project workers and clients, we think everyone should embrace its potential as a fundamental aspect of our business.
Find out more about BIM and see our BIM library.
Spectus is a trading name of Specialist Building Products Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Epwin Group Plc. Specialist Building Products Limited is registered in England & Wales, Company Registration number: 1268689, Registered Office: 1B Stratford Court, Cranmore Boulevard, Solihull, B90 4QT, VAT Registration No. 864 4507 10