Over the past year, data has become more and more of an issue: from concerns over consumer privacy to the buzz surrounding big data’s potential for digesting large quantities of information quickly. When it comes to buildings, we’re in the midst of our own data frenzy, as technology like building information modeling (BIM) takes design and construction virtual, and generates important information for building teams and owners alike. BIM allows for the creation and use of coordinated, consistent, computable information about a building project in design and construction.
How can you avoid a data tsunami?
Consider these stats: 71 percent of AEC companies (architects, engineers and contractors) used BIM in 2012. What’s more, McGraw-Hill Construction found almost 40 percent of BIM users are heavily committed to using BIM, and do over 60 percent of their work in BIM. The desire to use BIM is coming not just from the construction side, but from owners as well. While there’s no denying that BIM can help save time, money and improve a project’s safety and efficiency, BIM is not a one-size fits all technology. As we move forward with BIM we need to be more thoughtful about how we’re applying the technology and when.
BIM adds value only when properly planned. When we collect data, we need to think about what we need, how it might be useful, and put it into formats and systems to make sharing the content that much easier. All too often we generate information and lose site of the bigger picture.
I’ve found that a great way to drive efficiency and organization into the modeling process is to develop a BIM execution plan for the start of each project. It needs to start with a detailed conversation with the client on their current capabilities and future desires for use of any electronic information. Then, having a collaborative conversation between the designer and contractor can be much more productive. This kind of forward-thinking plan and active discussion allows for a collective understanding between design and construction teams and client. Doing so is intended to saves time and money and keeps you from generating information you do not need!
What’s really important: just because you can generate the data doesn’t mean you should. You need to make sure it actually meets the client’s goals. Identify the problem you’re trying to solve, and then find the solution; rather than starting with the solution to try and find the problems.