One technology that has emerged over the last decade and a half is Building Information Modeling (BIM). This article highlights the importance of BIM to the construction industry in Nigeria.
There were no significant changes in the building design methods observed until the mid-nineteenth century and engineers were used to describe their design by traditional methods (pen, paper, and ruler). With the advances in technology, building materials and mathematics, the design process within the construction industry experienced a robust and dramatic change over the years.
What is BIM?
BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that equips architecture, engineering and construction professionals with the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, manage and construct buildings and infrastructure.
In other words, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a cutting edge technology that is addressing prominent challenges in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industries in most of the developed countries. Developed countries have adopted the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologies in both small and large scale capacities.
However, construction industries in developing countries due to identified challenges and unavailability of the clear understanding of best practices, have not embraced this technology. Due to the contemporary sophistication in construction contracts, building design and the resulting demand for the construction of quality infrastructure, the constructability challenges many construction companies face are very sophisticated and cannot be addressed and solved easily without the help and application of technology. This technology has enabled designs to become more sophisticated as the technologies supporting BIM have evolved.
National Building Information Modeling standards (NBIMS) committee in the United States (US) defines BIM as a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility (Azhar, Khalfan, & Maqsood, 2012).
In relation to the aforementioned, different people and organizations have different definitions for BIM based on its particular use and the various ways they work with BIM. Therefore, most of the benefits BIM offers are included in its definitions.
Currently the modeling industry in developed countries can support not only 3D models but the construction management areas of scheduling, cost control, estimating, safety training, and sustainability.
Though there are issues one may face when adopting BIM in Nigeria but these issues can be tackled or well managed. Prior knowledge of potential issues/problems could be the difference between successful adoption and a failure to adopt BIM in a timely and cost effective manner.
BIM has been highlighted by the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry as a powerful design and management tool that has significant advantages over the building life cycle, design and management (Yan & Damian, 2008). BIM or 3D modeling has resulted in an abrupt reshaping of the AEC industry in the areas of technology and process.
Also, BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decision making during its life cycle from the conception to demolition.
Based on a survey conducted by Yan & Damian in US and the UK in 2008, the benefits of BIM were reported as, creativity, sustainability, improved quality, reduced human resources, and reduced cost and time.
Adoption of BIM will benefit construction firms in the following aspects but not limited to:
- Cost estimating: BIM software has the ability to perform quantity take off and automatically adjust and accommodate any changes occurring throughout the design and construction processes.
- Fabrication/shop drawings: With the help of BIM, developing shop drawings are simple for different systems of buildings.
- Construction sequencing: BIM will also help in sequencing and coordinating fabrications, materials order and delivery schedules for project components.
- Conflict and collision detection: Since all the models in BIM are created in proper scale in a 3D space, the software has the ability to call out any conflicts between building and utilities elements. After gathering data on 32 major projects, Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering reported the following benefits of BIM.
- BIM diminishes changes up to 40% by early problem detection.
- Compared to traditional methods of estimation, BIM produces estimates within 3% of accuracy.
- BIM reduces cost estimation time by 80%.
The most common challenges throughout the adoption and implementation of BIM in developed countries, according to the existing literature, appeared to be technology, people and processes. Subsequently it appears that some of the construction firms in developing countries that are working to implement BIM are sharing similar challenges even though most developing countries’ construction industries are using traditional technologies disseminated from developed countries.
Therefore, it is important to identify similarities of issues regarding the adoption of BIM in both developed and developing countries, and learn from BIM professionals with first hand BIM implementation experience. The lessons learned from early adopters in developed countries may provide enough encouragement to support the successful adoption of BIM in developing countries construction industries.
Bottom line: it is in our best interest that the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is facilitated.