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LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY

How Does BIM Support


the Construction Process?
BIM2 Assignment 1
Sam Boys 33348684
13/01/2015

S. Boys

How Does BIM Support the Construction Process?

33348684

Contents
1

Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 2
1.1

BIM maturity levels ............................................................................................................... 2

Design/ Modelling ......................................................................................................................... 4


2.1

The traditional approach ....................................................................................................... 4

2.2

BIM level 2 design and beyond ............................................................................................. 6

2.2.1

The common data environment and control ................................................................ 8

2.2.2

Clash rendition .............................................................................................................. 9

2.2.3

Construction documentation ........................................................................................ 9

2.2.4

3D, 4D, 5D................................................................................................................. 11

2.2.5

Level 3 BIM .................................................................................................................. 11

Scheduling................................................................................................................................... 12
3.1

The traditional approach ..................................................................................................... 12

3.2

4D BIM modelling................................................................................................................ 12

Quantity Surveying/ Cost ............................................................................................................ 14


4.1

The traditional approach ..................................................................................................... 14

4.1.1
5

5D BIM costing ............................................................................................................ 15

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) ................................................................................................ 15


5.1.1

Upstream integration .................................................................................................. 16

5.1.2

Downstream integration ............................................................................................. 16

5.1.3

6D BIM ........................................................................................................................ 17

Conclusions ................................................................................................................................. 18

Bibliography ................................................................................................................................ 19

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1 Introduction
There is some debate over whether the acronym BIM should represent building information
modelling or building information management (Race, 2013). The use of the term modelling
implies simply a small-scale representation, in this case digital, of the intended building, perhaps also
containing non-graphical information. However, BIM has come to mean more than this. The
implementation of BIM in construction projects involves changes in the way that the industry has
worked historically, with greater collaboration between stakeholders being essential to its success.
Race (2013, p. 17) suggests that management, among other things, implies planning, organising,
resourcing and controlling not simply the information that is required on a project, but the people
who create and combine it to produce the finished built environment artefact.
The aim of this report is to investigate the ways that BIM can contribute to the successful
completion of a construction project, with the aid of examples drawn from the execution of design,
planning, costing and three dimensional (3D) modelling of a theoretical Advance Factory project,
prepared by the author. With the exception of the 3D modelling, these processes were undertaken
using more traditional methods such as scheduling and costing using MS Project and design using
Autocad software. A 3D structural model was prepared using Tekla Structures. Commentary
provides an insight into how BIM management methodologies and use of the 3D modelling software
can support improved project outcomes.

1.1 BIM maturity levels


BIM levels have become an accepted definition of what is required for BIM compliance in
construction projects (NBS, 2014). The levels, from level 0 to level 3, explain in terms of the degree
of collaboration, what is required for a certain degree of BIM compliance.

Figure 1: Bew and Richards Maturity Model. (BIM Task Group, 2013)

Figure 1 shows the Bew and Richards Maturity Model. The levels shown can be summarised as
shown in table 1, below.

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Table 1: BIM maturity levels. Adapted from (NBS, 2014).

BIM Level
Level 0
Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Description
Effectively no collaboration. Uncontrolled 2D
CAD drafting only. Information is dispersed by
paper or electronic means or a mixture of both.
Typically a mixture of 3D CAD for conceptual
design and 2D for approval and production
drawings. CAD standards managed to
BS1192:2007 and electronic sharing of data is
managed from a common data environment
(CDE). No collaboration between disciplines
each publishes and maintains their own data.
Distinguished by collaborative working. All
parties use their own 3D design models,
however design information is shared through a
common file format, enabling any organisation
to combine that data with their own to make a
federated BIM model and to carry out
interrogative checks, such as clash detection.
This level has been set as the minimum target by
the UK government for all work on public-sector
projects by 2016.
Full collaboration between all disciplines with a
single, shared model, held in a centralised
repository. All parties can access and modify the
model, thereby removing the final layer of risk
for conflicting information. This is known as
Open BIM and the UK governments target date
for implementation on public sector projects is
2019.

Most UK organisations have now surpassed level 0, with many working at level 1 compliance. The
Government target of level 2 compliance for all public sector work by 2016 will require greater
collaboration between different disciplines, and the use of common file formats such as Industry
Foundation Classes (IFC). This report highlights how the progression from level 0/1 to level 2 and
beyond can improve project outcomes.

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2 Design/ Modelling
2.1 The traditional approach
Until recently, the accepted way of producing construction drawings was using computer aided
design (CAD). Example CAD drawings for the Advance Factory project, produced using Autocad can
be seen below in figures 2, 3 and 4.

Figure 2: Base plan of site produced in Autocad.

Figure 3: Plan and elevations produced in Autocad.

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Figure 4: Section through produced in Autocad.

Working at BIM level 1, these drawings would be produced to BS 1192:2007 (British Standards
Institution, 2007) standards by the designer, and then passed on to the next specialism, possibly
through the use of a common data environment (CDE) or portal, who would then have to interpret
them, and produce their own set of drawings to compliment them. This would likely be the
structural engineer, who would produce structural drawings. All drawings would then be passed to
the next specialism, for example the mechanical and electrical consultant, and the process would be
repeated. This continues along the chain of designers, consultants, contractor, subcontractors and
manufacturers until all of the construction information is complete. This process is usually not
complete when the construction phase starts, so additional time pressures are introduced due to the
programme.
It is easy to see how, with an ever growing number of 2D drawings, with different authors and
constant revisions, information can be lost at each hand-over and mistakes and potential clashes can
easily be missed. These mistakes and clashes translate on site into delays, waste and ultimately
additional expense.
It is also understandable that the client, who may not be a construction expert, may have difficulty in
interpreting the drawings, and their expectations of the completed building may differ significantly
from what is eventually provided. The clients ability to make effective decisions may be
compromised by this difficulty. This can, again, result in delays while expectations are managed,
revisions to the design at a late stage and ultimately costs associated with variations.

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2.2 BIM level 2 design and beyond


At BIM level 2, designs are produced in 3D modelling packages such as Autodesk Revit or Tekla
Structures. These packages automate much of the design process, including connections between
elements, and the input is three dimensional, making it much easier to visualise the building as it is
designed. All data pertaining to the elements of the building is embedded within the model, and the
model can be interrogated quickly and easily for quantities and qualities of materials. They are also
interoperable, meaning that when a model has been produced it can be exported in an open format,
such as IFC (Industry Foundation Class), and opened easily in another package for editing by another
discipline.
In the case of the Advance Factory example, the structural model was first created in Tekla
Structures. The basic structure was created first, and then detailed using the automated features
within this package. See figures 5 and 6, below.
The advantages in terms of visualisation over the traditional 2D CAD drawings are plain to see, even
from the simple structural model. The 3D model shown below in figures 5 and 6 was created using
the same information as the 2D CAD drawings shown above, but the building is instantly more
recognisable and understandable, even to a layperson. This improvement in visualisation can help to
assist the client and other stakeholders, such as tenants, to make earlier, more effective decisions
about the buildings design, with greater confidence that they will get what they are expecting.

Figure 5: 3D model created in Tekla Structures.

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Figure 6: Detailing using the Component Catalogue in Tekla Structures.

The structural model can be exported from Tekla Structures in IFC format and opened in another
BIM package, such as Autodesk Revit Architecture. Here it can be overlaid with the Architects
model, or used as a basis from which to build the Architect model. In this way there is no
information loss between specialists, and no missed details or misinterpretation of drawings. This
process can be repeated for other disciplines and specialist software packages, eventually building
what is known as a federated model (NBS, 2014).

Figure 7: Exporting the model from


Tekla Structures to IFC format and
importing into Autodesk Revit
Architecture for further editing.

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The use of the federated model for design facilitates earlier decision making by the stakeholders,
and in turn, requires earlier input from the contractor than traditional methods. The contractor can
offer value engineering solutions at an early stage, when the cost of decisions is far less than during
the construction phase. For example, main contractors such as Laing ORourke are finding BIM
models useful to provide information directly to manufacturing plants for the prefabrication of
building elements a process known as design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA). This process
allows the contractor to calculate exactly the materials requirements, eliminating waste from the
outset. (Laing O'Rourke, 2015).

Figure 8: The Mac Leamy Curve (C3 Systems, 2015).

The graph in figure 8 shows the traditional design workflow in red against the BIM design workflow
in green. It is clear that by shifting the decision making processes to the earlier phases of the project,
the cost of changes (shown as a green line) is much lower, and the ability to control costs (shown as
a blue line) is much higher.
2.2.1 The common data environment and control
This earlier collaboration between different disciplines, in practice, requires information to be
shared in a structured and controlled way. The sharing of information is achieved through the use of
a common data environment (CDE). The CDE is a repository for information, which could be a project
extranet or an electronic document management system (British Standards Institution, 2007). With
many different organisations contributing data to the CDE it is important that there is a carefully
controlled system by which data is contributed. Without such a system to control the types of data
contributed, the times at which data can be amended and the naming conventions of the data, the
CDE would rapidly become chaotic.
BS 1192:2007 (British Standards Institution, 2007) sets out these conventions to ensure control of
the CDE, and is applicable for all CDEs, including those not using 3D models. PAS 1192-2:2013 (British
Standards Institution, 2013) builds upon BS 1192:2007, to provide specific guidance for the
information management requirements associated with projects delivered using BIM (British
Standards Institution, 2013, p. vi). These two standards should be used in tandem to control the data
contributed to the CDE by BIM tools and other types of data not produced by BIM tools.
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2.2.2 Clash rendition


The federated model produced in the CDE can be interrogated to provide further information for the
design process, and eventually for the construction process. One of the defining features of BIM
software is the ability to perform clash rendition. The federated model can be interrogated by the
software to highlight areas where the individual models clash with each other, for example where
mechanical and electrical systems clash with structural features. The design of the models can then
be amended to avoid this clash from manifesting during the construction process. In this way it is
possible to minimise the amount of on-site problems during the construction phase, and therefore
minimise the amount of waste. It is estimated that, in this way, savings of 20-25% can be made in
the capital phase of the project (British Standards Institution, 2013) through the use of BIM.
2.2.3 Construction documentation
While the 3D model can be of use on site, there are still times when 2D drawings are clearer or more
understandable to those involved in the construction of the building. The 3D model can also be
interrogated to produce 2D, CAD style drawings for use on site.

Figure 9: Printing a drawing from the BIM model.

Drawings can be produced automatically, without the need for re-drafting, including dimensions,
part names and numbers, and even construction sequence details. Figures 10 and 11, overleaf, show
examples of drawings produced in Tekla Structures for the steel erection phase of the Advance
Factory project. It should be noted that these drawings are designed to be displayed at A2 size, and
as such are a little difficult to read at this scale. To see the full size drawings please see the authors
portfolio on the Leeds Beckett VLE.

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Figure 10: Elevation drawing produced in Tekla Structures

Figure 11: Plan drawing produced in Tekla Structures.

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2.2.4 3D, 4D, 5D


At level 2 the federated 3 dimensional (3D) model also contains non-geometric data. This could
include scheduling information, cost information and product data; or indeed any other data to do
with the project. The use of scheduling data can enable the projects build schedule to be mocked up
virtually, effectively enabling the project to be built virtually before construction commences on site.
The use of scheduling, or time data is known as the 4th dimension (4D), and is investigated further in
section 3 of this report. The use of the cost information appended to BIM objects, in conjunction
with the time data can also be used to produce more accurate cost models of the project known as
5D. This will be investigated further in section 4. These extra dimensions can be used to further
inform the design process, enabling the avoidance of time clashes, or problems with the scheduling,
as well as effective budgeting.
2.2.5 Level 3 BIM
Level 3 BIM compliance involves the use of the CDE to house a single, shared model, known as an
integrated model. The shared model provides a visual digital portal to all the construction
information. Where level 2 BIM is achieved through federated models, with batched transactions
moving data from one system to another, at level 3 the aim is that multidisciplinary teams will be
able to use the data at the same time, theoretically being able to see in real-time what other team
members are doing in the CDE (Barker, 2015). This removes the final area for potential information
loss the transition between the individual models contributing to a federated model.
So, while level 2 BIM is characterised by collaboration on the federated model, with models
ultimately being exported and imported into disconnected systems, level 3 is characterised by a
Single Source of Truth, stored in a database on the cloud, accessible by all project contributors via
web services (Dassault Systemes, 2014). Work at level 2 still results in silos of contributors; the
design team; the supply team; the construction team; and the operations team.

Figure 12: Level 2 BIM silos (Dassault Systemes, 2014, p. 4)

Level 3 BIM creates an environment where integration between all of these silos is possible
(Dassault Systemes, 2014). An integrated model synchronises the contributions of each of the silos,
minimising errors and omissions, and reduces requests for information (RFI) and rework.

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3 Scheduling
3.1 The traditional approach
Traditionally, scheduling of the project would be undertaken by the main contractor, in response to
the required completion date of the project, on a proprietary software package, such as MS Project
or Asta Powerproject. This method of scheduling is reactive, and involves a degree of guess work,
albeit educated guessing, on the part of the contractor. The schedule is not used to inform the
design process, and the contractor is generally bound by the design of the building.

Figure 13: Schedule for the Advanced Factory project produced in MS Project 2007. (Source: Author)

Figure 13 shows a traditional Gantt chart for the Advance Factory project. The Gantt chart is an
effective way of conveying the intended progress of the project against time, however it is not easy
to visualise the actual progress from the Gantt chart.

3.2 4D BIM modelling


BIM software enables the scheduling of a project to be done directly within the BIM package, or
alternatively, to be imported from a scheduling package such as MS Project. Specific objects can
then be attached to the tasks within the schedule, effectively enabling the projects progress
through time to be visualised. Early involvement of the contractor can enable this visualisation to
inform the design process, for example to advise where prefabricated parts may be used to avoid
site congestion or logistics problems. There are both tangible and intangible benefits to the use of
4D BIM.

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Table 2: Benefits of 4D BIM scheduling. (Adapted from Architectural Evangelist (2013))

Tangible Benefits
Savings in cost and time
Risk mitigation
Sequence clash detection
Reduction of complaints due to deliveries
queueing etc.
Improved productivity
Enhanced quality

Intangible Benefits
Improved communication between different
divisions/ subcontractors
Ease of communication of project constraints to
non-technical stakeholders

In respect of the Advance Factory example, the schedule was created in MS Project and then
imported into Tekla Structures.

Figure 14: MS Project programme imported into Tekla Structures.

From here it was possible to append individual objects from the 3D model to the programme to
produce a 4D representation of the intended build sequence of the structural model. From the
resultant visualisation of the progress it would be possible to mitigate risks due to congestion on the
site, plan logistics more effectively, spot any sequence based clashes (for example a column being
positioned before the pile cap had been cast), and improve the productivity of the installation. The
visualisation also makes it a lot easier to communicate any problems with the schedule to nontechnical stakeholders such as the client.
Essentially, the use of 4D BIM planning enables a much more detailed project plan to be built up at
an earlier stage, thereby increasing the predictability of the project and decreasing the risk involved.
Traditional methods such as Gantt charts rarely consider the use of temporary structures such as
scaffolding and formwork, however, by using 4D BIM it is possible to plan these structures as well,
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thus spotting any difficulties created by lack of space or access during installation (Dang & Tarar,
2012). As well as contributing to the efficiency of the project, this enhanced planning can also
contribute to better on site health and safety through the removal at the design stage of site
congestion, access issues and risky operations.

4 Quantity Surveying/ Cost


4.1 The traditional approach
Historically, the costing of projects has been performed by Quantity Surveyors (QS) taking off from
drawings. This is a repetitive process, and is compounded by the necessity for a QS to act on behalf
of the contractor and a QS to act on behalf of the client in a checking role. In this way, bills of
quantities (BOQ) can be produced and costs calculated and ratified by the client. By attributing these
costs to the tasks and materials, cash flow forecasts can be produced.
In the Advanced Factory example, a full take off was not performed, but indicative costs were
sourced from Spons Architects and Builders Price Book (Davis Langdon, 2012) and attributed to
tasks and resources in the MS Project programme. In this way it was possible to produce a cash
flow curve for the project. This in itself was a laborious task, and no BOQ was produced without a
full take off.

Figure 15: Cash flow curve for the Advanced Factory example. (Source: Author)

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4.1.1 5D BIM costing


By the integration of product, scheduling and resource data into the BIM model from the outset it is
possible to enliven a 5th dimension to the model cost. This enables the automatic, highly accurate
production of BOQ, derivation of productivity rates, and labour and materials costs (Muzvimwe,
2011). It also enables rapid what if scenarios to be explored by the client, showing how a specific
change to the design will affect the programme and budget. 5D BIM can offer cost estimation to
within 3% accuracy and up to 80% reductions in the time taken to generate a cost estimate
(Muzvimwe, 2011), bringing greater certainty and lower risk to the project as a whole.
5D BIM also has the benefit of being able to provide real-time cost forecasts of the project as it
develops. As progress unfolds on the project it is possible to update the model accordingly and
create up to date cost forecasts; again bringing refined certainty and clearer assessment of risk.
The quality of automated 5D cost information is heavily dependent on the quality of the BIM model,
and again, as with the maintenance of the CDE, the requirement for structured information
standards is paramount. The quality of the BIM model has been cited as the main barrier to effective
5D BIM (Smith, 2014). Automated costing can only deal with items that have been detailed in the
BIM model, and is reliant on the correct information being appended to these items.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

Since Latham (1994) and Egan (1998) it has been acknowledged that there is a need for greater
integration and collaboration in the construction industry, and BIM tools are finally providing the
means for this to occur. The early collaboration required by BIM, and the open, transparent
workflows that it creates demand not only the technology to make it happen, but a change in
attitudes and working practices.
The manufacturing industry has, for a long time, used IPD to enable the various disciplines to
collaborate from the outset on the entire product lifecycle.
Highly
collaborative
processes
throughout
lifecycle
Full utilisation
of technology

Leveraging
early
contributions
of individual
expertise

IPD
Open
information
sharing among
stakeholders

Value based
decision
making

Shared risk
and reward

Figure 16: Defining characteristics of IPD. Adapted from (Autodesk Inc, 2008)

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Figure 16 shows the defining characteristics of IPD, and it is clear that the use of BIM technology is
well aligned with this delivery method. BIM effectively forms a synergistic relationship with IPD, with
the BIM tools enabling the IPD method, but also demanding IPD methodology to make it work
effectively.

BIM Tools
BIM enables collaborative
processes, early decision
making
and
open
information sharing.

Full use of technology, value


based decision making and
shared risk and reward are
essential for BIM to be effective.

IPD
Methodology
Figure 17: Synergy between IPD and BIM. (Source: Author)

5.1.1 Upstream integration


Value based decision making is key to IPD, and the BIM process enables the client to focus on value
added, rather than solely the lowest cost bid. BIM and IPD also allow value to be added to the supply
chain, with 4D BIM enabling lean construction methods such as Just in Time (JIT) logistics.
JIT has been taken to the next level by contractors such as Laing ORourke, who have used radio
frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded within precast units to track the progress of building
elements through manufacture at their own DfMA plant and assembly on site (Laing O'Rourke,
2015). Through linking the RFID data with the BIM model and the model with the manufacturing
process, it is possible to send design information for parts directly from the model, trace the location
of all parts from the manufacturing phase right through to installation, and even for the next part to
be ordered for dispatch automatically. This creates obvious savings in design lead times, space on
site, time in delivery, waste, and consequently productivity and cost savings overall. This is an
excellent example of the integration of a whole upstream supply chain.
5.1.2 Downstream integration
As well as upstream integration with the supply chain, downstream integration with the operations
team is key to enabling value based decision making. Through the use of the BIM model for
simulation of operating the building, such as energy use simulation and planned and preventative
maintenance scheduling (PPM) it is possible for the contractor to demonstrate to the client the
effects that decisions made during the design phase will have on the life cycle costs of the building.
This enables the client to see that, although a decision may cost more in the capital phase of the
project, just a small change in costs over the lifetime of the building can easily outweigh this.

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Figure 18: Value of client outcomes vs. project costs. (Ward, n.d.)

The graphic in figure 18 highlights the importance of value based decision making downstream. In
this example, a 10% rise in construction costs only needs to produce a saving of 2% in the operations
and maintenance costs of the building to have paid for itself. If it can achieve more than 0.05%
improvement in business costs then it will be in profit.
5.1.3 6D BIM
The BIM model itself also has the potential to be a useful tool to the operations team to manage the
lifecycle of the building. This can be seen as the 6th dimension of BIM. The model, along with
Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) spreadsheets, can be handed over
to the client on completion of the project and will contain all of the information necessary for the
operation of the building. This can enable reactive maintenance engineers to be briefed more
accurately before arriving on site to perform repairs, PPM to be scheduled more effectively and
potential upgrades to the building to be trialled virtually before installation, amongst many other
uses. This, again, requires the client organisation to integrate their operations systems with those
used in the capital phase of the project, thus completing the integrated approach for the whole
lifecycle of the building.
Subcontractors
Suppliers

Contractor

Operations

Owner

Consultants

BIM
Model

Design team

Figure 19: With the BIM Model at the heart, Integrated project delivery is achieved. (Source: Author)

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6 Conclusions
It is clear that the use of the use of BIM can be highly advantageous to the construction process.
Through the use of the 4D, 5D and 6D BIM it is possible to bring benefits to the design, scheduling,
costing, construction, operation and ownership of a building. It is also evident that the use of BIM
tools in their own right is not enough to achieve BIM compliance beyond level 1. Business systems
and workflows must be aligned with BIM in order for it to bring maximum benefits to all
stakeholders, and the IPD methodology already established in the manufacturing industry is well
placed to provide the necessary integration for BIM to succeed. This requires effort from all parties
and disciplines within the construction industry, however, if applied properly, BIM methodology has
the potential to change the industry almost beyond recognition.

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7 Bibliography
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innovation.aspx
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