Today, we have a rich library of BIM standards, protocols, and software that make it possible to manage any kind of project, regardless of its size and the number of stakeholders and collaborators involved. Among all the information available to us, when embarking on and investing in a new project, the biggest challenge lies in defining the correct BIM strategy, and effectively working in Practical BIM. An adequate strategy can harness all the advantages that BIM offers, while an unsuitable strategy can increase costs in software, personnel, and time.
While there is no shortage of understanding BIM procedures during a project, there appears to be a disconnect when it comes to defining project requirements, the information to be used, and the project files to be delivered by the contracting party. This has an impact on the project’s EIR, AIR, BEP/BXP, PIP, MVD, OIR, and PIR. If these acronyms seem overwhelming, it highlights part of the problem.
Among the wealth of available information, there is also an abundance of acronyms with overlapping meanings. While some are region-specific, this lack of cohesion in terminology makes it challenging to establish a digital plan for constructing a building within a specified time and budget. What we call BIM today may evolve into something else tomorrow.
The current complexity of BIM makes it extremely difficult for stakeholders at the periphery of the industry, mainly governments, counties, cities, and developers, to precisely define their digitalized strategy and how to achieve it. Ironically, these parties played a significant role in developing the BIM protocols most widely used today. They laid the foundation for operating in a BIM environment, but this groundwork has been replicated without tailoring the content to the specific project dimensions or the principal contracting party.
In this article, we will outline the most common BIM approaches to projects. These concepts are already established in the industry and can be further refined when selecting appropriate requirements, standards, and delivery mechanisms and formats. These approaches consider factors such as the type of software to be used, project size, and budget.
OpenBIM is an approach to Building Information Modeling that seeks to improve collaboration, integration, and accessibility in the construction industry. This approach involves the use of open software, processes, and standards that enable different stakeholders to share their data with any BIM-compatible software.
By using open standards and workflows, OpenBIM allows different stakeholders to freely access the information model without being restricted by the native software platform.
The collaborative approach of OpenBIM is based on the idea that different project stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers, can work together more effectively if they use integrated and interoperable digital data. By using open standards, OpenBIM allows the sharing of data between different software platforms and applications, regardless of the vendor or the software version. This improves the accessibility and usability of BIM data and encourages more integration and communication across the construction industry.
By promoting open standards and workflows, it encourages the development of long-term, reliable, and consistent data management practices. This can reduce the risk of data loss, corruption, or incompatibility that can occur when different software tools and systems are used. In addition, OpenBIM helps to make digital data more sustainable by enabling stakeholders to reuse data from previous projects in new projects, hence reducing the need for rework and limiting resource waste.
Reliance on multidisciplinary teams and data-sharing protocols, with various software and services options to accommodate any type of budget.
High-level of trained personnel in order to manage interoperability adecuately.
Closed BIM represents an environment where all project stakeholders are united under the umbrella of a single software suite or platform. In this approach, data exchange is grounded in a closed information model proprietary to a specific software manufacturer, making it inaccessible to any other BIM-compatible software.
In essence, data and processes are confined to the boundaries of a specific proprietary software, and collaboration is confined within the defined software environment.
This approach to BIM stands in contrast to Open BIM, which prioritizes greater interoperability between various software platforms through the utilization of open standards. Closed BIM offers certain advantages, including consistency in data and a remarkably seamless workflow, particularly for those who share the same software. However, it is essential to acknowledge that these advantages come at a cost: the limitation of operating possibilities.
Closed BIM’s strength lies in its ability to provide a unified experience for users within the same software ecosystem. It ensures that data remains consistently structured and reduces friction within the collaborative process, streamlining workflows to a considerable extent. This uniformity fosters a sense of cohesion among team members, as they share a common digital workspace.
Nonetheless, Closed BIM’s Achilles’ heel emerges when the project necessitates the involvement of multiple stakeholders who prefer or require different software tools. In such cases, the closed information model can be a bottleneck, hindering seamless data exchange and collaboration. This limitation poses a notable challenge for large-scale collaborative projects, as it restricts the flexibility needed to accommodate diverse preferences and software capabilities.
Ease-of-use collaborative environment and consistency in data.
High entry cost, and limited operations for certain project actions.
Big BIM is an approach to Building Information Modeling that emphasizes collaboration and integration among multiple stakeholders within a construction project.
The term “Big” is used to emphasize the scale and complexity of modern construction projects, as well as the need for a comprehensive approach that brings together experts from different fields. Most typically used for complex or large scale projects.
In the Big BIM approach, stakeholders share and leverage digital information with each other to increase integration and collaboration. This means that architects, engineers, contractors, owners, and other stakeholders all work together to integrate their data and leverage it to improve the overall construction process. This can include everything from design and planning to construction and maintenance.
The goal of Big BIM is to improve accessibility, usability, management, and sustainability of digital data in construction projects and enable stakeholders to work together more effectively. By using a common digital information model, stakeholders can collaborate on a more equal footing, communicate more effectively, and avoid errors and inconsistencies that can arise when data is siloed in different software systems.
One of the key benefits of Big BIM is that its scale can clearly show the efficiency of the construction process by enabling stakeholders to work together seamlessly. For example, an architect can use their BIM software to design a building, while a contractor can use their own BIM software to plan the construction process. By delivering data, in the required format, the architect and contractor can continue to advance the design for construction and ensure that it can be built efficiently and sustainably.
Another benefit of Big BIM is that it can improve the quality of construction by allowing stakeholders to identify and address issues earlier in the process. For example, contractor may notice a construction issue during the design phase, which can be addressed before construction begins. This helps to avoid costly rework and delays in later project phases
Because of its scale, BIM execution plans can be easily implemented with existing standards.
Project size must merit the size of stakeholders, strategy implementation, technology, budget, and timeline
Example – Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
Little BIM refers to a traditional approach to Building Information Modeling (BIM) that focuses on creating individual, discipline-specific BIM models within a construction project.
This means that each discipline, such as architects, engineers, and contractors, creates their own specific BIM models that are not required to be integrated with models from other disciplines within the same project. Additionally the stakeholder may not have defining protocols for mechanisms for issuing the work. This can refer to developing either a relatively small project, or having a small part of the project done in BIM.
This approach is constrained; as only the necessary information is shared among the different teams involved in a construction project. This requires a constant coordination and issuing models and information to potentially eliminate redundant or contradictory data that may be difficult to reconcile when integrating the models later in the project.
This BIM approach is the the starting point for most offices since it consists of a liberal strategy of working in a BIM environment. This is mostly translated as the use of a single software to produce the BIM model and only including data as needed.
Little BIM is sometimes used as shorthand for the traditional approach to BIM, which focuses on creating models within each individual discipline rather than developing a more cohesive, integrated model across the entire project as with Big BIM. However, as more stakeholders embrace collaborative and integrated approaches to BIM as well as internal/external standards Little BIM becomes Practical BIM.
Easy access to BIM environment, and an efficient way to gain experience in managing BIM projects.
When starting out, many of the unknown aspects of the project’s objectives may cause delays.
Relevant information for a deeper look:
Making Practical BIM and using standards
As the evolution of working on a BIM environtment, be it in Little BIM, BIG BIM, Closed BIM, or OpenBIM, Practical BIM relates to the practical implementation and use of Building Information Modeling in construction projects. It involves the use of BIM strategies to improve project outcomes and efficiencies, focusing on how BIM can be used in a practical way to address construction project objectives. This includes the ability to tailor-make BIM roadmaps, BIM protocols, and BIM contract requirements to name a few.
Practical BIM’s focus is to reach project defined outcomes. This translates into implementing BIM as a digital strategy more than just software or standards. The road to implementing Practical BIM is to understand the core objectives of your work, the way you are to receive and deliver information, and having the right knowledge to work in your preferential software or services.
To truly make Practical BIM a reality, it is essential to comprehend the Building Information Modeling standards and various types of software and services available in the field. This is because standard and software requirements change with each project, a practical approach to selecting the best path forward is the efficient way of delivering work.
The use of OpenBIM, Closed BIM, BIG BIM, or Little BIM is a great starting point for knowing the approach to creating a BIM environment for your project, however over these differentiation of approaches will converge into the digital strategy that your future project will follow in order to be developed efficiently.
Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling — Part 1: Concepts and principles
Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling — Part 2: Delivery phase of the assets
Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling — Part 3: Operational phase of the assets
Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling — Part 4: Information exchange
Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling — Part 5: Security-minded approach to information management