Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be described as the ‘use of shared digital representation of a built object (including buildings, bridges, roads, process plants, critical infrastructures, etc.) to facilitate design, construction and operation processes to form a reliable basis for decisions’.
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) defines it simply as the “digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of an object”.
Understanding BIM construct
BIM is neither a product nor software but rather is a “cache of building information” to which graphic data (such as drawings) and certain technical attributes (such as technical data sheets and associated characteristics) that are also related to the foreseen life cycle can be added.
What BIM represents therefore is a collaborative planning method as it allows for the integration of useful information for every phase of planning – architectural, structural, plant design and installation, energy, management – into a single model.
Project functionality and performance
While CAD allows a project to be designed with 2D or 3D drawings, BIM also specifies the functionality and performance of each BIM object in the project or in the entire building process.
A BIM object can hold any information pertaining to the building as a whole, or its parts. The most common information collected in a BIM is geographic location, structure, the properties of the materials/components/systems and technical elements, construction phases and maintenance procedures.
Fields of application
Building Information Modelling is used both in the construction sector, for design and installation (architecture, engineering, technical installations…) as well as in facility management.
The role of BIM within the construction industry (by means of participants such as architects, engineers, surveyors, experts, builders, consultants and clients) is to support communication, cooperation, simulation and the general improvement of a project along the entire life cycle of the construction process.
Advantages of BIM technology
BIM technology offers a great number of advantages, such as greater efficiency and productivity, fewer errors, less downtime, reduced costs, greater interoperability, maximum information sharing, and more accurate and consistent control over a project.
Generally, a BIM object is saved in .ifc (Industry Foundation Class) format. These IFC files are classed as 3D image files that also contain other technical information and are compatible with any software that works with BIM technology.
Standard process and regulation
BIM will become the standard process for all buildings and is currently being integrated into public contracts legislation across Europe.
With Directive 2014/24/EU, the European Union has introduced a few guidelines to member countries on using the BIM system in the design and construction of public works. The BIM system is therefore strongly supported as a means of increasing the effectiveness and transparency of procurement procedures.
Mandatory use of BIM process in public works
In terms of the BIM process spreading to European operators (planners and companies), the leading nations are the Netherlands followed by the United Kingdom, whose government is bringing in a plan to make the use of BIM mandatory for public works. Even in Northern Europe and the United States, BIM technology has been used since 2000.
Since the construction sector varies so widely (plants, structures, energy), it has become evident that no software exists that can manage all these different parts. Instead, comparable BIM tools are necessary in order to allow the various softwares to “read” the relevant data.
BIM and video surveillance
Security has now become an integral part of the design process of any new large building. To provide the highest levels of security and avoid any blind spots that might constitute a security breach, the video surveillance system has to be planned in conjunction with other essential services, such as the electrics and hydraulics.
BIM allows security system designers to interactively understand camera coverage, making it easier to identify the required models and to optimise the system layout.
Reducing camera installation risks
In actual fact, the technology makes it possible to ascertain exactly how the cameras will fit into a building’s layout (both internally and externally) and to determine whether the view of any camera is blocked by columns, lighting posts, trees, etc. This reduces the risk of unexpected blind spots.
It is therefore possible to see how the cameras will be configured before they are installed, and which areas will be covered by the surveillance system after installation.
Alessandro Franchini - Videotec Marketing & Communication Manager