BIM Processes and Construction Data: Transforming Decision-Making for Owners and Operators
The power of building information modeling (BIM) has long been stated to be invaluable for building owners and operators. Yet, accessing and leveraging this construction data in tools like Power BI or Tableau remains challenging for many AECO stakeholders.
• BIM helps deliver projects as envisioned, on budget, and with teams collaborating efficiently.
• Using BIM effectively can help building and project owners mitigate risk.
• With BIM, owners can expect better project quality and more accessible lifecycle management.
However, despite these advantages, many building owners hesitate to request access to BIM models. Some global property owners we've worked with need to figure out how or have yet to research how to extract value from this data, viewing it as costly and intricate. While other large-scale owners/operators often have expert data analyst teams. They craft powerful dashboards and seamlessly correlate data across various departments. Yet, specifics such as the number of windows, required fire safety objects, or electrical outlets remain elusive.
BIM Data Feels Like a Black Box
BIM can feel shrouded in complexity and specialized expertise. While the information within holds tremendous potential, extracting and sharing it across different software platforms is often challenging. Despite working towards a common goal, team members may need help accessing and collaborating on this data. Instead of serving as a cohesive means that bridges communication and planning gaps, BIM can sometimes become an obstacle. This complexity often necessitates reliance on a select few experts, limiting the broader team's understanding and utilization of the data. What are some primary reasons for this?
Model Complexity in BIM
BIM models are inherently complex, encompassing comprehensive data about the structure, processes, and components of a building. This complexity may be intimidating and challenging for stakeholders unfamiliar with BIM software or procedures. BIM models may also be created at various levels of detail (LOD). Depending on the project phase, a stakeholder may only have access to a lower LOD, which may not provide the granularity of information required.
Dynamics of Stakeholders
Every stakeholder has various data requirements, whether architects, engineers, contractors, or facilities managers. It becomes difficult to curate data, particularly for each stakeholder, without overloading them with irrelevant facts. Furthermore, various stakeholders may have competing interests and desire to keep particular data proprietary for competitive or strategic reasons, obstructing the open flow of information.
Software fragmentation is rampant in the construction business. Data accessibility might be constrained due to a plethora of software solutions, many of which are incompatible with BIM systems. Furthermore, data ownership is ambiguous in BIM. There are questions concerning who owns the BIM data: the architect, the owner, or the contractor. Data dissemination becomes controversial when there are no clear ownership boundaries. Furthermore, BIM models are live documents that are regularly updated. It is a logistical problem to ensure that every stakeholder always has access to the most recent version.
Concerns about the law and contracts
BIM data may include sensitive information, such as security system specifics or proprietary design elements. Such data distribution may violate privacy standards or rules. There are other obligations to consider. Professionals may face legal consequences if they provide incomplete or erroneous BIM data. If stakeholders are confident in the data's quality and completeness, they may be willing to share it.
Resources are required for extracting, curating, and disseminating BIM data. Not all stakeholders may be prepared to accept these expenses, especially if the advantages seem intangible. Furthermore, stakeholders must be properly taught to realize BIM's benefits fully. The costs and time required for this training put many people off.
To summarize, BIM has the potential to change the construction industry. On the other hand, the gap between this promise and its existing reality is determined by technological, legal, and human difficulties. Bridging this gap will require collaborative initiatives, industry-wide standards, and a culture shift toward more transparency and trust.
Shared BIM Data, in What Format and at What Cost?
Architects aim to determine what specific data is feasible to share without incurring substantial costs or risks. It's not about greed but ensuring sustainable and efficient business operations. Panels of experts agree that owners can benefit from the data, but they get lost in the details of what data to provide them and how to evaluate cost/value/risk. There's a new, modern approach! Imagine BIM data is housed in a modern, relational, and structured database. This allows owners and operators to use powerful languages like SQL for querying, maximizing the potential of tools like Power BI or Tableau. When BIM data is integrated into these platforms, stakeholders, from owners to operators, can generate comprehensive reports, visual dashboards, and valuable insights at the click of a button. Such capability ensures that every decision is data-driven, ensuring accuracy, efficiency, and profitability.
There's no need to imagine it. VIM's technology isn't just about making BIM data more accessible; it's about unlocking its true potential. Through the integration with advanced platforms like Power BI or Tableau and the power of querying BIM, owners, and operators can instantly transform this data into interactive visualizations, detailed analytics, and tailored reports. This isn't merely about data retrieval; it's about making informed decisions, forecasting trends, and enhancing operational efficiency. In such an ecosystem, BIM data becomes less of a complicated maze and more of a strategic asset, fueling smarter business choices and driving tangible results.
Barriers to BIM Data Access
What are the obstacles to getting access to the BIM data? Three main challenges persist:
"The problem they, as the owner, and we, as the AEC community, are running into is the accuracy of the as-built model. Typically, it has been provided by the design team and should be more accurately called the "As-Designed" model. Why? Because no matter how well the design team details the model, the contractor invariably makes decisions in the field regarding how the building is assembled that may have little correspondence with the building plans."
So, this is fine: the so-called "as-designed" model, also known as the "design intent" model, is, in fact, a rich source of information. If you understand it as such and ask for it, it still has immense value for the owner and other stakeholders. Next, we're going to take a closer look at a practical example. Check out VIM Cloud's free Power BI report called the "High-Risk Building Audit." This report includes verification, summary, and detailed pages, giving you a complete overview of potential building risks.
Stakeholder Collaboration is Key
The North American Engineering Executive Council in 2020 emphasized in this Autodesk University Class the inefficiencies in the current data-sharing methods among architects, engineers, and fabricators.
"On a typical project, architects, engineers, and fabricators build their separate 3D models, yet still exchange data using drawings. This process results in wasted material and labor, lengthier project timelines, and less cost predictability for the owner."
Their solution is to involve the owners more during the design/build processes, guaranteeing better project outcomes. Owners should actively ensure access to design intent models, reducing potential liabilities for architects and making the process more transparent.
"By eliminating inefficiencies and competing interests, owners can create an environment where all stakeholders collaborate to improve project quality, reduce costs, and speed up timelines. Also, more than any other group, owners can exert influence and create real change in how teams work."
Overcoming BIM Extraction Challenges
The limited functionalities of tools like Revit or Autodesk Construction Cloud magnify the perceived complexity of data extraction. With third-party developers like VIM, owners and operators can easily transition BIM data into a more accessible format. For these stakeholders, the labyrinth of BIM processes has been simplified with the introduction of contemporary solutions. Now, there's a streamlined approach to dive into BIM, translating its complex details into a fast, efficient, and modern format suitable for interactive data analytics. This transformation not only democratizes access to BIM data but also empowers owners and operators with intuitive tools and insights, ensuring they're not just bystanders but active participants in leveraging the potential of BIM for their projects.
We're committed to helping owners and operators set clear expectations and providing the tools to integrate BIM data seamlessly into their existing processes and platforms. By bridging the gap between BIM and valuable intelligence, owners can truly unlock the potential of their construction data.
Request a demonstration and discover how industry-leading Microsoft, RIB, and AECOM owners unlocked their BIM data potential with VIM.