The UK Government has targeted 2016 as the year by which all of its projects will be procured on the basis that BIM (Building Information Modelling) level 2 will be adopted. Fascinating stuff when you consider that only five years ago 43% of construction professionals asked in a survey didn’t even know what BIM was. While a more recent survey now reports 95% awareness, it also records only 51% of people as having actually used BIM level 2.
So, what is it and why does it matter (apart from because the UK Government said so)? Here are a few key points to take away.
Before we get started…
BIM is, when you get right down to it, design. So, if BIM level 2 is what the government is requiring what are levels 1 and 0? These are not really talked about in any great detail but BIM level 1 would be unincorporated design models. Designs for different parts of a facility or project held on different programmes by different designers and never actually joined up into one design. They are however being shared electronically so there is some collaboration. BIM level 0 is a further retrograde step where there is no collaboration at all and the design would probably be issued in paper format only (possibly on parchment, animal skins, or stone tablets).
What is Level 2 BIM?
At its simplest level, BIM level 2 is the use of an electronic model of a facility or project which contains input from all members of the design team for the whole project. Importantly, for BIM level 2, the creation of that single model is done in stages, with each member of the design team working separately up until a certain, defined, point. This is known as a federated model.
What is Level 3 BIM?
In essence, you are still creating a single electronic model for a facility or project. However, for BIM level 3 all members of the design team are working on the same design at the same time. There are no longer stages in the process or pauses while information is uploaded; the design is live in real time. This is known as an integrated model.
What is 4D, 5D etc and how does that relate to BIM levels?
The basic three dimensions (height, width and depth) can all be modelled electronically through any Computer Aided Design (CAD) package. The further dimensions (4D and onwards) refer to additional information which you could build into the same model to help understand the construction and lifecycle of the facility or project better. The fourth dimension might therefore be time, so you can see the sequence in which the construction will be carried out. The fifth dimension might be cost to enable everyone to see the implications to construction of making design changes. The sixth dimension may be whole life so that changes in the initial construction can be considered through the project expected operational life. Other dimensions which are often considered are carbon impact, sustainability, facilities management, preventative maintenance, upgrade and redevelopment etc. Really just about anything that will help those coming up with the concepts to understand exactly what the whole project will look like and give quick feedback on the effect of changes could be added as a dimension.
The number of “dimensions” being applied to the model is not directly relevant to the level of BIM being used. BIM levels focus on the amount of integration taking place in the model while the “dimensions” focus on the amount and type of data going into the model. So you could have a 6D Level 2 model or a 3D Level 3 model.
Because it matters…(part two)
Because it matters... (part three)
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