What is BIM Software?
Prior building information modeling (BIM) software, the building designs were confined only to 2D drawings. The architects and engineers were unable to perform digital visualization of the whole project before execution. However, BIM helps users to analyze the project as a whole or into parts. It provides digital representation of building structure and also facilitates spatial relationships, light analysis, and geographic information. This data helps in decision making regarding building structure and designs. For example, a user can manipulate this information to understand these elements’ behavior before building construction begins.
Using BIM Software one can:
- Increase productivity and efficiency in creating 2D and 3D drawings and models
- Easily alter designs
- Improve accuracy, precision, and control in drafting and design
- Enable communication and collaboration between designers and with clients
- Detect and avoid conflicts to reduce rework
User benefits of BIM Software
BIM gives users a number of benefits that manual design cannot offer such as:
Create quickly — BIM software is an efficient alternative to manual drawings and facilitates quicker designs with more information than manual drawings set.
Design anywhere — Being a cloud-based software the users can have access to project details from anywhere with any device.
Avoid clashes — BIM software can identify the clashes, such as electrical conduit or ductwork that run into a beam, and save costs of damage repairing.
Capture reality — BIM is capable to provide aerial imagery and digital elevation for mapping. It includes laser scans of existing site infrastructure.
Improve collaboration across your organization — owing to cloud based nature of the software, BIM allow users to share information effectively and review the steps before completion.
Simulate and visualize elements of your building — BIM software has the capability to visualize how certain elements can impact the building structure, such as sunlight, which helps users in informed decision making.
Sequence the steps of the building process — BIM software can animate the entire construction process, facilitate users step by step, and deliver a path to the end result.
Give a perfect presentation — It’s important clients get a preview of the building in 3D with realistic view of the building possible.
Who Uses BIM software?
BIM software can benefit in a variety of career fields such as:
Construction — BIM software is commonly used in the construction industry. It facilitates gathering aerial views of your structure and laying the groundwork digitally ultimately gives a more productive worksite.
Infrastructure — Beside constructing buildings, BIM can be used to create any large structures, such as bridges and ports. BIM ensures that any large structure is resilient to external circumstances, such as weather, before being constructed.
MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) — BIM software offers a suite of tools to help those in the MEP industry design and estimate mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems quickly, it helps in installation process as well and reduce the risks and waste.
Structural engineering — Another common use for BIM software is by structural engineers. BIM helps users to analyze the strength of building, minimize errors, and improve the quality of structure before it is constructed.
Architecture — BIM solutions allow architects to bring their most creative ideas to life in design process. This means that insight can be gained early on in this process to meet clients’ requirements to deliver the project they need.
Kinds of BIM software
Closed BIM is an environment where everyone involved in the project uses the exact same kind of software and exports files in the exact same format, eliminating the need for conversions. While in open BIM, project members may use different kinds of BIM software with neutral file formats. This process has led to a number of open standards that have been developed to further the industry.
BIM Software Features
BIM software offers several features to support the design and building of large structures such as:
Collaboration — In construction sector each step is important and demands effective flow of information among stakeholders to initiate informed decisions.
Visualize — The eminent feature of the BIM is to provide 3D visualization of the structure which helps to amend the design before implementation.
Document storage/data management — In large structure different teams contribute in terms of drawings, customers’ demands, phasing plans. BIM can store this large data and gives access to multiple users.
Additional BIM features:
On users demands some BIM tools may include:
Cloud rendering — Produce realistic 3D visualizations of your building without integrating any special rendering hardware.
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) fabrication detailing — A number of BIM products offer MEP fabrication detailing.
Import/export 2D sheets — BIM solutions offer the option to import/export 2D sheets into the platform, so that you can design as you need and potentially update these 2D designs to 3D.
Trends Related to BIM Software
AR/VR and BIM — AR/VR gives you the ability to study extensive 3D models, merges the real world with a virtual environment, to see how a piece fits into the whole of a building, and anticipate clashes early.
Internet of things (IoT) and BIM — BIM tools can house data on IoT applications which means that designing the building can be done with ready-to-deliver products that come straight to the building site.
4D, 5D, and 6D BIM — Apart from 3D visualization BIM offers 4D solutions, provide a visualization of the construction schedule. 5D and 6D BIM add costs and materials to existing 3D BIM solutions including aesthetics, thermal properties, and acoustics to maximize a user’s return on investment.
3D printing — BIM and 3D printing are a perfect match as prototypes can be made with BIM software with minimal waste and then passed along to a construction crew before implementation.
Potential Issues with BIM Software
Incompatibility with construction partners — BIM is not the universal standard in the construction industry quite yet which means your contractors may not necessarily utilize BIM software to create buildings and therefore won’t be able to use your models.
Legal ramifications — There are many people involved in the design and construction of a building or large structure and it is currently unclear where the ownership of BIM data falls. Whether it needs to be protected through copyright laws has also yet to be determined.
Cost — Moving to BIM software is not a cheap task. You have to pay for tools and invest in training or consulting. It will likely pay off in the long run, but the upfront cost may be a hit to you if your business is small.
Software and Services Related to BIM Software
A few vertical industry software categories revolving around functions such as building, design and installation should work in conjunction with BIM technology. While some individual products may not integrate with one another, the end goal of these software categories are very similar.
Construction management software — This software includes supervision of offsite construction crews, work progress, punch lists, time tracking, expense management, and more. These tools may already offer BIM capabilities but don’t offer those functionalities, BIM should be able to fill in the gaps.
Architecture software — Architecture software assists in visualizing, creating, and viewing building design documents. However, BIM solutions can enhance the offerings from this software due to its 3D modeling capabilities and integrations.