Think outside the BIM box

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the new backbone to digitised construction. BIM increases productivity and improves the quality of work across the construction ecosystem from design, through construction and into operation.

Although BIM is gradually integrating into contracts and processes, South African uptake and confidence among contractors remains low. This can be attributed to a limited knowledge of BIM processes and too much emphasis been placed on design software in the past. We recently witnessed one of South Africa’s largest contractors sending out request for proposal (RFP) invitations for vendor software application partners to facilitate its BIM adoption strategy, sparking renewed interest among other contractors to follow a similar strategy.

BIM is not software

Many people mistakenly think that BIM is software, when it is actually a process of working. Software tools are the technological core of BIM, but this makes up only 10% of the system. The remaining 90% centres around the sociological and collaborative practices that the software enables.

BIM allows all stakeholders to collaborate on a single model to design, construct and operate a building. The technological base of BIM consists of 3D design, intelligent models and information management; social components include synchronous collaboration, coordinated work practices and a cultural or institutional framework in which BIM is incorporated in a company’s processes — workflow, for example — and business plan.

The design stage includes conceptual design, detailed technical design and analysis (including energy analysis), working closely with the Professional Quantity Surveyor(PQS) to provide detailed estimates and pricing documents based on design information provided in the 3D model. In the build stage, contractors can re-model the Bill of Quantities for resource levelling, accurate cash flow projection purposes using quantification from the models provided, including automatic updated quantification provided by the PQS. The contractor can also use this information for fabrication, planning and simulation purposes. Once the facility is built, the contractor and owner can use the model to manage defects and operate and maintain the building, as well as renovate and finally demolish, if necessary, far into the future.

Understand the basics

Traditional design, bid and build (architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors and clients) delivery project processes still work in silos. Modelling and coordination is handled in the design offices and only the 2D drawings and information is sent to the contractor. Requests for information pass from the site to the design office and revisions get sent back. Quite often, the information is still on paper or in electronic pdf format — not in the cloud — and is duplicated many times.

In the traditional coordination process, communication between stakeholders peaks in the construction documentation phase, affecting progress onsite.

BIM alters workflows, so communication peaks in the design and design development phases. At this stage, changes are easier to make without slowing or halting construction. Costs are easier to control and litigation (due to cost and schedule overruns) is reduced or eliminated. Under this new approach, contributors cannot work in silos. Instead, all parties collaborate as the model develops, working together to eliminate clashes.

Solving coordination issues virtually in the design phase is more efficient and cost effective. It also improves safety and reduces labour onsite. With the client, design team and professionals involved from the outset, knowledge and awareness increases through each phase of a project — there is minimal loss of knowledge between phases.

Step up to the plate

The BIM Institute has worked with commercial streams and software vendor experts over the past three years to define South Africa’s BIM awareness. Now for the first time giving the industry a National BIM guide and enabling it to use its BIM skills to produce a better outcome. The BIM Institute currently also engages with various large contractors (locally and across Africa) on best practice.

It’s now your responsibility – as a contractor – to demonstrate your “BIM-readiness.”

This involves detailing your proposed processes to meet with the project’s BIM requirements. This does not only require refining your in-house software systems, but rather aligning internal processes with BIM and then identifying and addressing any software gaps.

Get started:

If you are just becoming familiar with BIM, theNational BIM Guide is an essential tool for you to understand:

  • Data information
  • Guide to global standards
  • The practicalities of BIM
  • The processes required
  • Keep up with the industry – register as a BIM Institute member.
  • Upskill – through the BIM Institute’s accredited courses or contact the Institute for an independent review.
  • Expert advice – The Institute has a definitive listing of vendor experts on its BIM Vendor Directory.

A picture of health; AN ARUP UNDERTAKING

Due to the cost and complexity inherited in healthcare projects, BIM tools and processes are an effective platform to aid design, construction and operation. Above saving time and money, if we consider the scope and size of a healthcare project, it is necessary to develop a detailed BIM model in order to adopt the tool and maintain the process fluency of information across all stages of the project.


117 Strand Street has BIM Ingenuity

BIM in action

A recent project that caught my attention in Cape Town is a new mixed use development under construction in Strand Street – by developers Ingenuity Property Investments. 117 on Strand is hailed as a progressive upgrade of one of Cape Town’s inner city landmark through redevelopment into a mixed-use block, comprising 5 200m² of retail outlets, 5 500m² of premium grade offices and 117 apartments, taking the concept of inner city mixed-use living to “a new level of contemporary luxury”.

With technology changing almost on a daily basis, the challenges faced by the construction industry are multi-dimensional: as a mature and conservative industry, new techniques are often slow to be adopted and even when they are, the speed at which technology changes makes one’s head spin.

Understanding BIM

Those organizations that have implemented BIM (Building Information Modelling), have realised there are a lot of opportunities to use technology to improve what they already have. BIM only scratches the surface when delivered as an integrated set of geometric models, data and documentation that builds over the life of a project to capture all knowledge related to that built asset.

So, how do we get there? The BIM Institute sees the transformation in three strands to a BIM strategy: culture, process, and technology, and the opportunity is there to leverage these across all projects stages.

BIM is about concept, design, manufacture, delivery, and operation. BIM alone delivers no value. It is the combination of a clear strategy, the right people and culture, the right technology, high-quality data and lean processes that create the value. It’s not only the use of the model throughout the process as a design and visual tool but it’s also a communication and collaboration tool.

Technology logistics

A digital architectural design strategy on 117 Strand Street needed to be jointly developed to increase the design and delivery efficiency of constructing a 61m high complex multi-story concrete structure within a confined space in the heart of the city.

The collaboration between the architect ( KMA Architects) , Structural Engineers ( De Villiers Consulting) and contractor (Group Five) on this project is fundamental in delivering the project efficiently with minimal disruption. Such collaboration relies on a cloud based information management system known as a common data environment (CDE) – often referred to as a construction document management system. The CDE makes processes more efficient and allows all members of the team access to a single source of the truth and for viewing the 3D model in the cloud. Having the Strand Street model in the cloud has a vast number of advantages giving the project team the ability to mark-up changes, view and resolve any design issues and services clashes during the design stages, thus avoiding completely or greatly minimising these costly mistakes later during construction.

“It’s all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time, and that is often easier said than done. Things that have been done manually on paper or through email now have to be understood algorithmically so that the business processes are clear, well-defined and easily accessed via a secure online platform. Done right however, it can result in substantial time reductions and attendant cost savings. Building information Modelling (BIM) tools will certainly help us drive time and budget savings on this project.” explains Paul van Rensburg, Group Five Planner on the project.

Some level of manual intervention is still typically required at the moment to turn the output from one process into the input for the next process.

Benefits with modelling on the project

Virtual Reality. The wealth of information that’s easily accessible about project sites has expanded greatly with better mapping tools and images of Earth. Today, project starts include aerial imagery and digital elevation, along with laser scans of existing infrastructure, accurately capturing reality and greatly streamlining project preparations. With BIM, designers can have all of that input compiled and shared in a model—in a way that paper isn’t able to capture.

To get to the stage where designs are digitally computable in 3D has required a lot of effort and this is largely achieved through federated models, using batched transactions to take outputs from one system such as Revit to another. This is still some way from multidisciplinary teams using data simultaneously, performing different tasks in real time.

One Version of the Truth. With a shared Autodesk Revit model of 117 Strand Street, there’s less need for rework and duplication of drawings for the different requirements of building professionals. The model contains more information than a drawing set, allowing each discipline to annotate and connect their intelligence to the project. BIM drawing tools such as Revit and Autodesk Navisworks are faster than 2D drawing tools, and each object is connected to a database. The database aids such steps as the number and size of windows for quantity take-offs that automatically updates as the model evolves, providing quantity surveyors with projected bills of quantities information.

The Holy Grail is a common data environment (CDE), one where you have the ability to mine it so that you can pull things out from one system for use in another.

Collaborative BIM. Sharing and collaborating with models in a common data environment is easier than with drawing sets, due to greater functionality. Much of this added project-management functionality is now being delivered in the cloud, such as found in Autodesk’s BIM 360 Here, there are tools for different disciplines to share complex project models and to coordinate integration with their peers. Review and mark-up steps ensure that everyone has had input on the evolution of the design, and that all are ready to execute the final concept prior to construction.

Maintain Control. The Revit model-based workflow features such as auto save, connections and project history so that users can be certain they’ve captured their time spent working on the model. The connection to the version history of the model’s evolution can help avoid disastrous disappearances or corruption of files that can make blood boil and impinge productivity.

Simulate and Visualize. With total of 14 800m3 of concrete and 1 886 768 bricks in the modelled structure, the contractor Group Five will be using Autodesk Navisworks to simulate the 4D programme, providing intelligent information for the timing of the rebar delivery and ready mix concrete pouring production on the project. Raw data is imported into Navisworks which will also give access to production schedules of the relevant components and help ensure the construction programme is on time. This could drastically reduce building running costs. Intelligence software applies physics and best practices rules to skills of complement engineers and architects involved on the project.

Resolve Conflict. Revit features help the architect automate clash detection of elements such as electrical conduit or ductwork within the building. By modelling all of these things first, costly on-site clashes can be reduced. The model also ensures a perfect fit of elements that are manufactured off-site, allowing these components to be easily bolted into place rather than created on-site.

Sequential Steps. With Autodesk Navisworks the team can use the data extracted from the estimating software and import the Excel data onto a set of animated sub-models for each phase during construction. The next step coordinates the sequencing of materials, and manpower requirements for a more efficient construction process.

Take It With You. With the added benefit of a model in 3D and that’s tied to a database, Ingenuity Property Investments have a great deal of intelligence at their fingertips. Combining this capability in the cloud, with Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field software, means that they have access to the model and project details from anywhere, on any device.

In Summary

The past decade has seen a radical shift and transformation in the way things are designed and built. Whether you design, build or operate buildings, Autodesk BIM Solutions have certainly laid the path to help prepare businesses for a new digital construction era.

Project Team:



Where digital construction begins

The Construction IT Executive Summit taking place on the 10 -11 May 2016 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg. It will provide a unique construction digital summit for construction executives and professionals to benchmark and improve business processes and understand the impact on effective strategies for improved information technology processes to promote the Building Information Modelling environment. The IT Summit will be the centre-piece of the digital expo and will showcase how digital and advanced construction together with BIM and new technologies are changing the face of the construction industry.  


CAD Corporation unpacks BIM

  • Published in Videos

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is changing how buildings, infrastructure, and utilities are planned, designed, built, and managed. Autodesk BIM solutions help turn information into insight and deliver business value at every step in the process. 

BIM gets the right information to the right people at the right time, helping firms innovate and compete. Autodesk's comprehensive BIM portfolio delivers a workflow advantage for virtually any project.

It helps you to articulate your design vision and deliver optimized engineering systems; better align construction planning with performance; streamline planning and design and deliver higher-quality projects; and improve efficiency and meet expectations for service quality.

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