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BIM and the importance of a Pilot Project

BIM Format allows all involved parties to directly share and annotate problems in the model

Published: 08/04/2018

Country: United Kingdom

Article writen by Agron Deralla

Today we have the year 2018 and the term BIM has not been so strong imbedded in the market compared to two or three years ago. Many have only heard about it, some have played with it and some have developed big projects that count as worldwide good examples about the implementation of open standards.

Many countries are in the transitional phase in applying BIM rules, and offices are starting to get familiarized with this method. In some countries this process is faster and in some slower. In this transitional phase, it is important for each team player to keep up the pace, in order for the future to be less devastating when the method gets fully implemented.

One must not forget that jumping into BIM will be a big business decision for a company, which results in additional costs, therefore a strategy for the implementation must be well thought . It is a necessary criterium, if the office workaround must run smooth, especially in the future. I will skip this part of the implementation, hence concentrate at the part where the company decides to work on the first BIM project. To achieve a successful goal, the company should look for potential projects that could be developed in BIM. In order to avoid any complications or a disaster in the development of the BIM project, I would recomend to do the first BIM Project as a “pilot project”, as I will call it PP. The PP is a project that includes the consultants but there is no client involved in the process.

This document describes a few important steps for a smooth implementation of a PP, even though it is not a last resource.


Even before having the team on board it must be clear that the main task must be to work in openBIM. Supporting the open standards will allow exchange of information between most possible teams. Also throught the developing phase of your project you can gather knowledge about pros and cons of the standards and have a better implementation for future projects. Simply "learn by doing"!


Everyone in the team can work in their preferred authoring tool which can handle the IFC schema. It does not matter if you work in Archicad, Revit, Tekla. Try also to integrate the bsDD (buildingSMART Data Dictionary) or any local standard that you might have as much as possible to learn also the importance of classification. Don’t forget that classification is one of the key elements of unobstructed data exchange and deliverables in the future.

Project Team

For a successful project development in BIM it is necessary to choose the appropriate team members, starting from architecture, mechanical, structure, etc. They must be willing to work in exchanging information in this new method. Throughout the processing of the project some teams might need more support for defining certain matters. Therefore be patient, everyone is learning from this step that you are doing! On the other hand, teams willing to force exchange information in old fashion DWG, are not welcomed to take part, or at least try to avoid having a contract with them in the PP. Primary exchange ist set to IFC, whereas DWG and PDF are secondary types of format.


If there is no client involved, it might be a bit easier for the threshold of project development to be tested by all participants. Since there is no EIR (Employers Information Requirements), there is also no necessity for project deliverables for each phase. In this case you can concentrate in defining the necessary internal definitions for a proper IFC exchange. But keep in mind that it will be cost and time consuming if you decide to set the threshold very high by defining a lot of parameters in the IFC schema.

BIM Execution Plan (BEP)

Set a BIM Manager to define the project goals, rules and deadlines. Even though one might call it an “internal BIM Project”, the BEP is still an important document. Define why you are doing this project in BIM and to which extent, how should the files be named and where should they be uploaded, how often should the exchange take place, etc. There are some examples of BEPs on the internet which you can take as a reference to define your priorities. Since the BEP is a WorkInProgress document, keep in mind to update and document all the learned processes during the development of the PP.

Source: Pinnacle Infotech Inc.

Project size

The smaller the size of the project in the sense of square meters, the less modelling and information is required. This is often a hard parameter to choose, since one might not have the time and opportunity to wait for such a “small” project to appear. In my opinion everything that is around 5 to 10 thousand square meters is a small project. Please bear in mind that the complexity of the project might be also a decision maker: An airport differs a lot from a housing development, even though they might have the same size.

Model QualityControl

Since you are working in a 3D model, which is up to a certain degree ritch in information, you need to check if everything is properly in place. First and foremost, Qualitychecks of model geometry are very important since that information is going to be exchanged with other consultants and secondly you might also do QTO (Quantity Takeoff). You don’t want to send out IFC files where walls are not modeled in their correct height. The classification must also be placed properly in the elements and mapped correctly. Don’t forget about the collision detection.

In my knowledge one of the best software capable of controlling model geometry and information is Solibri Model Checker. Based on its rulesets, which can be also manually overwritten, the software controls the validity of the models. It can also run collision detection. For this last aspect there are some other software in the market such as NavisWorks, Tekla BIMsight, etc.

You should consider your 3D model as a virtual simulation of the built environment. If everything works in the virtual model, you will have probably almost no problems in the real building.


To furthermore support the open standards in BIM, it would be a shame not to communicate in BCF. The BIM Collaboration Format allows all involved parties to directly share and annotate problems in the model. The BCF format is linked to the elements GUIDs (Global Unique ID) which can be easily referenced to those particular elements in an issue. This simplifies the task of localization of those elements in the model. Either you can export/import the BCF documentation and send them through email, or you can use an online platform.

The platform that we have worked with and are really satisfied is #BIMcollab from KUBUS. They offer so called "BIM Managers", that are plugins for different authoring tools like Archicad or Revit. The advantage of having such a platform is that all the correspondence is centralized and well documented. This eliminates situations of "he said, she said..." concerning the project. You cannot delete stuff in BIMcollab, which sounds as a disadvantage at first, but in long terms it helps a lot.


It is important that you document all possible obstacles during the first PP that might also appear in the future, learn the processes throughout the whole project phase. Joining the buildingSMART community will help you exchange valuable information for your project, but you can also give the community your input, and in the end it is a win-win situation.

During the developing of the BIM PP, there might be a situation that some parties might feel overloaded with work and have the feeling the situation is getting out of hand. The internal BIM Manager must keep the situation calm and motivate and encourage the team to stay together. A successfully communicated and finished BIM Pilot Project in open standard in the end is a good example and motivation for the colleagues, in order to take the next step. 

Find out more about Rastatt Rail Tunnel, one of the biggest BIM pilot project in Germany.


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