How beneficial is BIM on site?
The idea behind Building Information Modelling (BIM) comprises more than just the 3D scale of the design. It involves an entire process of creation and management of all the aspects of construction --- from the inception of the design, to the development and visualisation of the project, to the documentation, planning and coordination of workers during construction, and to the organisation of the operation, maintenance and life cycle of the project. Yet, despite so many companies seeing the advantages of BIM, and therefore putting forth their investment in it, the industry, in general, has not been able to fully maximise BIM system on the site itself.
But should contractors have good use for BIM in the field? What are its benefits, if ever?
Addressing BIM’s limitations
There are many contractors who make use of BIM in the office, where all the planning is done. But this poses some limitations, as BIM is not likely to be seen on the job site, where the actual structure is going to be constructed. Some field workers still carry with them 2D scale models of the project, even as these are the very people who will rely on the critical part of the project’s execution. Thus, pertinent information - that is available in the BIM that’s in the office - could lose cohesion where it should matter most.
In order to solve this limitation, industries that create BIM software solutions have developed other tools and ways to bring BIM to the site to encourage companies to fully utilise this.
The advantages of bringing BIM on site
With the right tools, some construction sites are already making it mandatory to set up large monitors for workers to see where the project is progressing. These monitors come with fully integrated technology using a BIM system. Others carry Android or iOS devices, which can load BIM apps and required software, so that access to bulky laptops or PC is no longer needed. Tools like these work well on site because it facilitates increased collaboration with workers and produces many favourable results.
With all the information stored in the smartphone or tablet, the workers and contractors can just easily whip up their devices when showing plans, or better yet, keep everyone briefed and updated with any corrections and alterations in the design and construction. Essentially, BIM on mobile works like a portable manual, but with more advantages because content creation and sharing of information may be done using these, too. Every aspect of updating and collaborating may also be done in real-time. Additionally, users can take images of the progress of work and include this in the BIM data.
Results of BIM on site
What this results to is a seamless and efficient turnaround of work. Reports and updates are done faster, while eliminating redundancy or mistakes, because there are visual references to always keep tabs with. Consequently, this also shifts the work environment into a paperless environment. Since all the data is found on the BIM, filing, tracking and documenting is done with organised accuracy. An example we are seeing currently is Steel erectors using CSD's Tablet devices on site to built such things as erection sequences right down to the menial tasks of finding the TF bolts for QA checking on the project. With the aid of the BIM model in hand any item can be located, searched, filtered and discussed using note functions throughout the site back to HQ in real time... no more cross checking of reports to see what bolts to use!
As a multi-dimensional tool, BIM makes every data available to all the workers involved in the project. Combined with functionality with apps and mobile systems, it has all the potential to be a powerful tool to use for the project.