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Project Collaboration - Best Practices

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Section I-11
Building Information Modeling (BIM)

The National Institute of Building Sciences, author of the National BIM Standard, states that "BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a project. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a project forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from inception onward." The "I" in BIM stands for digital information that includes both two and three dimensional data, as well as associated properties that describe the characteristics of components and assemblies that compose the virtual model of a project. This information can be used to promote better collaboration, visualization, analysis, coordination, project scheduling, phasing and sequencing, cost planning, fabrication and pre-fabrication, and lifecycle maintenance / management during the project lifecycle. When implemented thoughtfully and managed carefully by project stakeholders, BIM provides great value to projects by reducing costs, shortening project durations, eliminating field conflicts, minimizing duplication of effort, and increasing project team efficiency.

BIM not only refers to technology and software tools, but also an integrated project process which requires an increase of collaboration and communication among the entire team.

The information developed and extracted from the model will be used for many purposes by multiple entities utilizing different software packages. To accomplish this level of collaboration, the information within the BIM must be structured to support the various intended uses, which requires a carefully planned and documented execution strategy. The project team should develop this plan early in the project, revise as additional participants are added; and update the plan as needed throughout the project lifecycle. Within this document, the project team will need to define the scope of BIM implementation; the level of collaboration between stakeholders; the information requirements and responsibilities for each team member; and the required technological infrastructure needed to support implementation.

Delivery methods which reward integration and collaboration, such as IPD and Design-Assist, will maximize the effectiveness of BIM. However, BIM also has value in the more traditional delivery methods of Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, and Construction Management-At-Risk. Currently, project teams are experiencing a hybrid of traditional delivery contracts that include supplemental agreements which target the level of BIM to varying degrees. Even with these agreements, additional definition of goals, uses, delineation of responsibilities, and planning may be required to leverage BIM effectively.

Many project teams have found it helpful to consult a practiced professional or consulting firm with a successful track record of using BIM to ensure that the chosen delivery method and developed execution plan is advantageous, financially feasible, and acceptable to both industry and project stakeholders.

Factors for Use
As BIM implementation becomes more prevalent within the industry, some professionals and contractors are utilizing BIM for design, construction documentation, coordination, and analysis for projects of any size or complexity. However, it is important for project teams to realize that BIM use may vary from project to project and, in some instances, certain applications may not be appropriate or cost-effective. The project team must instead define the specific areas for successful project implementation and should aim to use BIM at the level needed to maximize value, while minimizing project cost. Criteria that can assist the project team during the decision making process includes, but is not limited to:

  • a project of unusual design or complexity
  • a project using value-based engineering to make up-front decisions
  • a time-sensitive design and/or construction schedule
  • a project using specialized or complex construction techniques, including prefabrication or computer-aided fabrication
  • a project with significant unknown scope at the time of bidding, resulting in a high probability of major design changes during construction
  • a project requiring phased future expansion and/or facilities operations management

Since there is no single best method for BIM implementation, the team must effectively design the execution strategy for each project by understanding the goals, capabilities, and constraints of the project team members. By utilizing the BIM process, the entire project team can achieve the following benefits:

During design and preconstruction:

  • align project to planning, programming and budget requirements
  • generate meaningful design studies
  • adjust design for optimal performance through integrated analyses
  • avoid costly redesign by creating more informed design decisions
  • enhance project visualization and project marketing support
  • improve project communication to expedite approval process
  • produce tighter design coordination and integration of building systems
  • improve document coordination, quality, and speed of revisions
  • develop owner information requirements

During construction:

  • use enhanced visualization for better project understanding
  • efficiently extract data to support quantity take-off and cost estimating
  • enhance construction coordination of trades and reduce costly field conflicts
  • create schedule simulations of installation sequences that optimize manpower and supply chain inventory, storage and site logistics to minimize damage, re-work, safety hazards and waste
  • utilize digital fabrication and equipment control processes to promote efficiency and accuracy during installation
  • address owner information requirements

After project turnover:

  • reduce costly and time consuming manual data entry at project turnover
  • integrate models with equipment information (warranties, maintenance records, O&M manuals) into a facility management system to aid in the creation of maintenance schedules, budgets, and resolution of work orders
  • integrate models and data into a BAS (building automation system) and EAS (energy automation system) to improve building performance and reduce unscheduled repairs by using real-time performance data
  • support space utilization management and real-estate portfolio planning
  • provide first responders visual and comprehensive facility information to assist in planning appropriate response to emergencies

Closing Summary
Addressing the project scope, goals, and limitations during the early stages of a project will create the necessary dialog between the different project stakeholders to use BIM effectively. In order to achieve the maximum benefit, the project team needs to establish a detailed implementation plan to utilize BIM throughout the design, construction, and operational lifecycle.

Note: This document is an executive summary of The Joint Committee BIM Reference Guide that will soon be published.

TAGS: Construction Management-At-Risk, Design-Assist, Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, and IPD.

Glossary Terms for the Best Practices Guide

History of Recommendation:
Approved August, 2012

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