The Brilliance of BIM
Building Information Modelling (BIM) software is on the rise. Capable of generating and managing digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility, it is increasingly viewed as the future of construction.
The major advantage BIM holds over older systems like Computer-aided design (CAD) is its ability to produce not just graphics but information. This information aids in the automatic generation of drawings and reports, design analysis, schedule simulation and facilities management, and ultimately enables the construction team to make better-informed decisions throughout the lifespan of the facility.
The building information models it generates are important as a shared knowledge resource, which supports and aids decision-making about a facility right the way through its lifespan.
BIM is useful from the very early conceptual stages, right through the design and construction phases, and then over a facility's operational life and including the eventual demolition when it is replaced completely.
BIM in the UK
The UK in particular is a BIM advocate. In May 2011, Paul Morrell, the Government’s Chief Construction Adviser, advised BIM adoption on construction projects of £5million and above, while warning construction professionals that alternative methods would become obsolete.
In June of the same year, the government published its BIM strategy, and stated that it intended to require collaborative 3D BIM on all of its projects by 2016.
A report, published in March 2013 from a survey of 1,350 UK construction professionals, revealed that BIM adoption amongst this group has increased from 13 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2013.
Why is this so?
There are several reasons why the construction industry is embracing BIM software; the first of which is that it reduces risk from a project.
BIM removes guesswork from the equation and enables greater predictability of a project's outcomes. Projects can be properly visualised early on in the process, giving owners and operators a clear picture of intended designs and allowing them to modify the design where necessary to achieve the outcomes they want, before time and money is wasted on incorrect decisions.
Before a single brick is laid, BIM allows the project team to create an accurate representation of the project in a virtual environment. Within the software, they may rehearse complex procedures and plan procurement of materials, equipment and the necessary manpower appropriate to the job.
The software allows for accurate comparisons of design options and variations to be produced and analysed quickly. This enables a team to make the correct decisionabout which direction they should take for the project, in terms of efficiency, sustainability and value for money.
The advanced nature of BIM modelling techniques aids greatly in this process, as the different solutions can be optimised for value against agreed parameters and targets.
A further advantage to BIM is the close collaboration that it offers.
Since all parties involved in the construction project; including designers, contractors, suppliers, specialists, as well of course as the customer themselves, are using a single 3D model, easier and more focused collaboration is possible. This has the benefit of a more efficient and better value project.
Integrating design inputs across different disciplines using a single 3D model means that interface issues can be identified and dealt with in advance of construction. This is much more cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for redesign; saving both time and money. The model also enables new and existing assets to be seamlessly integrated.
Speed is a knock-on positive effect of this close collaboration. An enormous amount of time can be saved by agreeing on design concepts early in project development, as this will eliminate time-consuming and frustrating late-stage changes.
BIM also improves safety by allowing crowd-control and fire modelling to be run; simulating scenarios so that final building designs can be optimised for public safety. Contractors can also minimise risks in the construction process itself by reviewing procedures before actually going on-site.
BIM also greatly reduces wastage of materials and equipment, as neither will be over-ordered. What’s more, Precise programme scheduling enables delivery of materials and equipment at just the right time, which reduces potential for damage and minimises hire-costs.
BIM models also contain product information which aids commissioning, operation and maintenance activities. These may include start-up and shut-down sequences, interactive 3D diagrams giving visual instructions on the correct way to take apart and reassemble specific pieces of equipment, and specifications allowing replacement parts to be ordered where necessary.
A final advantage of BIM software is the potential that it provides for continuous improvement. Members of the project team can feed back information about the performance of equipment and operational processes. This gives a clear picture of any improvements that could be made on subsequent projects to ensure even better strategy and performance.
Which BIM is for me?
There are so many variations of BIM software offered by different developers that it can be a challenge to decide which one works best for you. The solution is just that; to judge which is most appropriate to your specific goals and the nature of your business.
Some forms of BIM are geared towards the architectural side of the industry, while others offer countless flashy features for other aspects. It is important to find software with an interface that you are comfortable using, and which serves your purpose.
It is pointless to pay a premium for advanced graphical and modelling features that you don’t really require, and equally futile to try and save money by investing in more basic software which doesn’t do all that you need or will need in future as your business expands.
Feel free to explore the options, but as a starting point the following are three examples regarded as being at or near the top of the BIM pile.
The best of BIM
Autodesk’s Revit is regarded as the class-leader by many. It offers features for architectural design,Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing(MEP), and structural engineering and construction.
ArchiCAD 17, the latest version of Graphisoft’s software, promises to simplify the modelling and documentation of even highly detailed models, and allows models to stay live until the very end of the project. Geared towards architects, the solution’s latest iteration boasts strong graphical performance to “greatly help the performance, navigation and display of extra-large, complex models.”
The 2013 iteration sees improved features such as auto-hybrid objects, enhanced and more flexible window and door capabilities, parasolid-based roofs and enhanced IFC usability.
SafeAI attracts $21m funding as SmartMix AI tool launches
SafeAI is driving the transformation of the mining and construction industries through connected, autonomous sites. With chronic labour shortages, unsafe working conditions and frequent project delays, these industries are in a unique position to benefit from autonomy.
Unlike on-road applications of the technology, autonomous heavy equipment operates in controlled environments, which means companies can create smarter, safer, more productive project sites today that create meaningful, near-term impact.
“We are at a tipping point for autonomous heavy equipment,” said Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO at SafeAI. “We’ve proven that autonomy makes work sites significantly safer and more productive; now, we are on the cusp of mass adoption. Together with our valued partners, customers and investors, we’re poised to deploy autonomy in off-road industries like construction and mining, at scale, to rethink the way heavy industry operates.”
Heavy industry is a large, growing global market, ripe for disruption. The construction equipment market alone is valued at $140 billion, and expected to increase to $175 billion by 2025; construction-related spending accounts for a staggering 13% of global GDP, or $11.5 trillion.
But there remains significant room for growth; in construction alone, higher productivity could create an estimated $1.6 trillion in additional value. With just 25% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 in existence today, autonomy can bridge this productivity gap with greater efficiency and 24/7 operations. SafeAI is at the forefront of this transformation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in the autonomy space today; but it’s clear the biggest opportunity for this technology is off-road,” said Mark Blackwell, General Partner at Builders VC. “With its industry-leading autonomous software, scalable retrofit approach and partner ecosystem, SafeAI is uniquely poised to capitalize on this opportunity. We’re proud to support the company in its next chapter of growth as demand for autonomous heavy equipment continues to skyrocket.”
New investors LTC, DG Ventures, MACA and Vimson Group, and existing investors Autotech Ventures, Brick and Mortar Ventures, Embark Ventures, Monta Vista Capital and Obayashi Corporation, also participated in the round. The funding comes on the heels of a year of rapid growth for SafeAI, including new partnerships with Obayashi, Goodyear and Macnica, and expansion into Australia’s booming mining market.
A pilot program with Obayashi Corporation last November saw a Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck autonomously complete a vital on-site function and carry out load-haul-dump cycles.
Giatec debuts SmartMix AI tool
Giatec has debuted what it claims is the world's first concrete AI tool for producers, SmartMix. The web-based AI tool allows producers to optimise concrete ingredient proportions, reduce cement usage, and predict the performance of their mixes while still meeting project specifications.
Giatec believes this tool will lower Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from concrete production by 400 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road.
SmartMix builds on Giatec's first AI software program Roxi, which has collected millions of data points from the company's SmartRock wireless concrete sensors across 8,000 projects and 80 countries.
Giatec's head of research and development, Andrew Fahim, said the new technologies are going to pave the path forward for the industry to meet increasing infrastructure demands.