What exactly is the definition of Building Information Modeling? To put it briefly and simply: It is nothing more than the continuous digitalization of all planning and realization-relevant building information as a virtual building model and the networking of all those involved in the building process. Building Information Modeling is not software, as is often assumed, but a collaborative process in which all parties involved in a project use a three-dimensional design and integrate it seamlessly into it. It is an actual method of optimized planning, execution and management of buildings and other structures with the help of software. All relevant building data is digitally modeled, combined and recorded. The building is also visualized geometrically as a virtual computer model. Building Information Modeling is used both in the building industry for building planning and execution (architecture, engineering, civil engineering, urban planning, railway construction, road construction, hydraulic engineering, geotechnical engineering) as well as in facility management. Compared to conventional IT models, this method can make significantly more information available and creates a synchronized database that can be accessed by all parties involved in the construction process and can be modified and adapted on an ongoing basis.
Let’s take a brief look back at the times of the traditional method: In classic construction planning, an architect creates a draft and records it with the aid of CAD systems. The plans are then submitted to specialist engineers, fire protection experts and authorities, among others. To calculate the costs, a quantity calculation is made on the basis of the drawings. For this purpose, it is necessary to link the geometries with qualitatively and budget-related defined components, so that the individual quantity details can be summed up in service items or calculated partial services. If a planning change occurs, the drawings must be changed, the quantity determination must be adjusted, all participants receive updated drawings and must compare these with their specialist planning. This causes a considerable amount of coordination and work, which can be significantly reduced with Building Information Modeling. Or to put it more clearly: thanks to Building Information Modeling, these times will soon be over. Now the architect or specialist planner can make changes to the project file directly on the model. These changes are directly available to all parties involved, both as a drawing and as a data package. Masses and quantities, which for example serve as a basis for cost calculation, are automatically compared. A small, illustrative example: Due to changes in the floor plan, the number and description of doors in a building can change. The architect changes the doors in the virtual building model. This automatically changes the door list and the corresponding link shows the immediate effect on costs.
Building Information Modeling advantages at a glance:
- Improved data quality, as they are all based on a common database and are constantly synchronized.
- Immediate and continuous availability of all current and relevant data for all parties involved
- Improved exchange of information between planning participants
- Continuous data preparation throughout the entire life cycle of a building
- Improved data reconciliation can significantly increase the productivity and efficiency of the planning process in terms of costs, deadlines and quality.
- The efficient digital modelling technologies and ERP ultimately reduce project costs, risks and deadlines. Time is an important cost factor in
- construction. Cost overruns can also be prevented. Building Information Modeling enables earlier and better informed decision-making in construction projects and thus higher productivity throughout the entire life cycle of buildings.
In recent decades, the construction industry has not succeeded in keeping pace with other industries in terms of productivity growth, such as the automotive industry. This has ultimately hampered the growth of entire economies, the well-being of society and the resolution of environmental problems. New digital technologies such as 3D printing, autonomous construction machinery or prefabrication have the potential to close this productivity gap. In order to remain innovative and increase productivity, however, the infrastructure and urban development industry (IU) must tackle digitization as soon as possible – Building Information Modeling would be an important first step in this direction.
The former German Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the cabinet of Angela Merkel, Alexander Dobrindt, underlined this already in 2017 on the occasion of the “2nd Future Forum on the Digitization of Building”, when he emphasized the great importance of Building Information Modeling for the successful digitization and progress of the entire construction industry:
“With Building Information Modeling, the duration, costs and risks of large construction projects can be significantly reduced. Our goal is to become the innovation leader in digital construction. In the future, the clear principle will apply in Germany: First digital, then real construction. My ministry is leading the way: “We will make Building Information Modeling the standard for new transport infrastructure projects by 2020”. The question remains as to when Switzerland will follow suit.