Sunday, February 21, 2016

It's Time to Get Rid of BIM.

" It's time to get rid of BIM "  - those are words that I bet you never thought you would read on a blog called BIM - for real.   But this concept is something that I feel very passionate about, that BIM is not needed in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industries.

Before I elaborate, I should probably explain that I'm involved with project teams on both US coasts as well as across the US South and Mid-West. Because of this involvement I have found that each region and each project can be extremely different.  We have projects that are using tablets accessing data on "the cloud"; project coordination that leverages the benefits of clash detection during preconstruction; projects that combine 3D models and project management solutions for project scheduling ... you get the idea, real technology and information workflows. Of course, we also have projects where we need to create our own 3D models for these purposes as the sub-contractors or design teams did all their work in AutoCAD or with hand sketches.  That doesn't mean that these players are not part of the greater collaboration process, just that they are doing it differently based on their required deliverables, skillsets, budgets, overhead, client demands, etc..  As a result, we need to adjust the way we perform our services based on a wide variety of factors.

With the paragraph above, I successfully got rid of BIM.  Not the technology, not the process, not the model. I was able to get rid of the term and concept of BIM... because we don't need it.

A favorite description of BIM and one that you may have read in many technology and marketing articles is that BIM is a "disruptive process". Disruptive because it changes the way you do things to achieve your end results. But who wants to disrupt the way they produce a great product and make a comfortable living? Even I don't want to do that.  On the other hand, I do want to enhance the way I do my designs and deliver my projects. Technology and process improvements should be ENABLING and not disruptive! That's the foundation for why it's time to get rid of BIM from our lexicon of industry language. The process we currently describe as BIM is already understood to be an enhancement or requirement for doing our jobs. We are enhancing the way we deliver projects through process and technological improvements. That's not something that requires its own ill defined word, that's simply adapting to our current industry reality which is something most industries are doing today.

For further proof that we don't need BIM, ask yourself how you would you answer the following question:  "How do you do your business?"   You may describe everything from specs to CD's, from design to technology, from coordination to budgets, from presentations to marketing... but you could do it ALL without ever using the disruptive terminology of "BIM".

So lets stop using this term which can cause a general feeling of disruption or uncertainty of meaning each time it is used. If we are not describing a Building Information Model (a BIM - the most generic description of a model used for design and construction) then you are likely not communicating your point of view effectively.

Unless of course you are like me and arguing that you don't need to use the term BIM, then it's kind of mandatory. :-)

1 comment:

Hans Kristian Grani said...

I agree that there are big issues with the use of the term BIM today. You already touched on that the term is used to describe both the process, the model and the technology.
In addition there is the wide span of "ambition levels" that BIM is used to describe. At one end you have these (futuristic) models with only parametric geometry and hyperintelligent data so that any process could be automated if you just purchase the right software or the right robot/ 3d printer. On the other hand you have people saying that if you have a structured spreadsheet you already have/do "BIM". The range is too big for it to make sense and in that case you are right. If BIM is everything in an industry it may as well be nothing.

I would argue however that there is a need for a term for the paradigm shift we are seing in the industry. There is a difference between "BIM" and "non-BIM" and we need a way to describe it. The subs and design teams in your example paragraph above did not model, therefore they were not producing BIM content and you had to model yourself as you pointed out. Eliminating re-entry/ redesign is one of the premises of BIM.

I also want to answer your question : "How do you do your business?". A big part of out business at Areo is taking as-built and O&M handover data from the designers and contractors and use that data as a foundation for operations, maintenance and facilities management processes. To us it matters a whole lot if the project has provided BI(M)-Models or "just" drawings/ 3d CAD-files. And to provide models they have had to model. From a model you can autogenerate cleaning schedules, maintenance plans, inspection plans etc etc. Using drawings and documents you need rework and retyping to achieve the same goals.

You may think that for us it doesn´t matter too much how they did the design corrdination but it turns out it do matter. If all their design and on-site coordination issues are tracked in structured databases with links to the ever evolving model, the asset owner already have a good history of the design intent, installation challenges, snags etc related to that model object. I expect other disciplines and professionals to have the same question when they are hired for a job - do you have a model or not? (the binary part is of course an oversimplification as the models rarely are what they need to be for that professional to do his/her job).

BIM may not be disruptive but it is a paradigm shift. Somehow similar to what going from paper drawings to CAD was. As argued above I think we need a term to describe this paradigm shift. BIM may be the correct acronym or it may be other words that are working better. For our domain Asset Information Models (AIMs) are being used instead of BIMs in some cases and we are moving away from this BIM file that contains everything as it is essentially a federated database with both geometric data, structured data and documents. However for design and construction I think we are too far gone to come up with another term. The focus should now be on narrowing the definition and give the acronym a proper meaning to make sense to people in the industry.

That said I agree we should get rid of some of the "disruptive" hype and take BIM down from its pedestal and challenge some of the "de facto" thruths about BIM.