Crucial Conversations Part Three: Can BIM Improve Project Communication?
In the third part of our series, Bluebeam VP of Strategic Development Sasha Reed sits down with industry experts to discuss how BIM improves project communication.
- Sasha Reed, Bluebeam VP of Strategic Development
- Nigel Davies, Director, Evolve Consultancy
- Josh Bone, President, J.Bone Technology
- Brok Howard, Technical Account Manager, dRofus
The “I” in “BIM”
BIM, or Building Information Modeling, has become a polarizing, yet essential, component for construction project delivery. Advocates vouch for the efficiency of BIM, citing BIM’s use of digital solutions and workflows as the future of information within the build environment. Those who oppose BIM find it confusing, complex, and inconsistent from project to project.
Opinions aside, BIM is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. In layman’s terms, building models are digitized, so they can become informational instructions for how to build the design. Like a computerized blueprint, but more complex, BIM is intended to carry vast amounts of information from the design studio to the construction trailer to the field and beyond.
BIM in Project Communication
One advantage of BIM regarding project communication is that the digital 3D model should be accessible by all project partners at all times. “When people actually start to realize that what we need to be doing is looking at processes and procedures that manage the flow of information and data on a project rather than trying to ‘deliver BIM,’ we’re in a far more positive situation,” explains Nigel Davies, Director at Evolve Consultancy. “And that’s delivered through what we call a common data environment, single source of truth, if you will, for a project. Then we’ve got a shared area so everybody knows they’re working off the latest versions through to published documentation.” By looking at the single source for truth (SST), project partners can be on the same page, literally.
The Evolution of Communication through BIM
As BIM processes continue to spread through the construction industry, new roles and job descriptions arise to match. “We need to start thinking about this beyond text images and models and start thinking about this as an actual database, a way of communicating all of those things that we need throughout all phases of the design process,” explains Brok Howard, Technical Account Manager for dRofus. “How many people knew what a BIM manager was 15 years ago? A VDC coordinator? These things didn’t exist. They evolved. These are new roles that are going to be evolving in the new generation. These team members are going to be communicating on so many different levels, it’s not going to be a meeting per week. It’s going to be a continual conversation, just like the streaming conversations that you see within social media. We have to rethink the word BIM in this context to where the opportunity lies.”
Stay tuned for part four of this series, where the panelists discuss file types and establishing a common data environment in BIM workflows.