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How to implement BIM as an infrastructure owner?

6 keypoints to adopt BIM in your projects

BIM Implementation Infrastructures
Published: 24/01/2019

As an infrastructure owner, if you are now convinced that BIM can bring home the promised savings, and you now feel ready to implement it, as one of the important weapons in your business arsenal. The next question that occurs is:

How do I implement BIM in my projects?

I will be clear and blunt here: the answer is not simple. Because BIM itself is not simple. It is a state of the art sophisticated tool, and a tool that can bring home 30% savings, I believe has every reason to be complex. Its complexity rather gives it’s promises more validity. But having said that, I will also tell you this, if we can break its complexity in the right way, we will realize that its seeming complexity is actually very simple at its core. Let’s get to it.

1. Understand that BIM is not just a 3-D model

A recent report by McGrawhill has revealed that 46% of BIM users use BIM tools just as a 3-D building software, because they are not aware of the real potential in BIM tools. Those 3-D models that consultants show you are not just pretty geometries; they are simulations rich with data. Those pretty models have the potential to ease co-ordinations, communications, analysis, project management, asset management, project collaboration, asset management and project operations. In other words, it is the data contained in those 3-D models, that help you save those big bucks!

2. Understand your needs

Take a project, and examine each part of its construction process carefully. And look for those key problem areas, which could benefit through implementation of BIM. Thereafter, apply BIM assisted solution to those problem areas, and see how much Return on Investment (ROI) do you achieve after applying BIM assisted solutions. This will help you decide, where exactly to apply BIM to make maximum gains.

3. Set clear GOALS

Even though you rely on consultants to make you those BIM simulations, but unless you define what exactly you want in those simulations, the consultant will not be of much help. On the contrary you give him more room to fool you. I have many a times heard owners complain of consultants saying, ‘they charge hefty fees to just make a pretty 3-D visualization.’ Well they will, because you are giving them reasons to do so. Take a firmer hand, and tell them exactly what you want.

Here’s a tip: To take maximum advantage from BIM, try and keep BIM information through all your team members consistent. i.e. make sure that the contractor, electrical guy, piping guy, etc. share information for any given project consistently.

In a nutshell: Define clear BIM goals across your construction and design team, and make sure they consistently share information.

4. Action time

Once you know what you want, and are clear on your goals. The real action begins.

You need to now define a road map for slowly integrating BIM in all your projects. This might mean upgrading the computer systems you currently use to systems with higher power, training your existing staff on BIM technology, or sourcing new people who have good knowledge on BIM. But make sure before training and hiring new people, that you train them specifically to meet some business specific goals, like reading and implementing BIM on site, etc.

Tip: Go slow. It is always better to try anything new on a small project first, and move on to bigger ones, after you gain some exposure and confidence.

5. Inform your team

Examine the credentials of your existing key helping chain, like your contractors, designers, consultants and others, for their existing BIM knowledge. Inform them clearly on your future intentions of switching to BIM methods. This might require them to acquire additional skills or completely rearrange their old ways of working. Naturally they will be reluctant at first; you must therefore, make it clear to them the positive reasons for your departure from the old ways, that sooner or later, BIM will have to be implemented; and sooner you do it, the better.

6. Hold Accountability

Once you have laid a road map, and informed your supplying team of your decision. Its time to implement those decisions by holding them accountable. In other words, you must make sure that your supplying team do, what is asked of them. One of the ways to hold accountability is by using Employers Information Requirements (EIR) tender documents.

An EIR is a document where you, as an owner, clearly state what you want to get out from the BIM models at the end of the day. i.e. all the information you would require to successfully build a project, and once built, successfully maintain it. If you work without an EIR in place, you will struggle to ensure, that right teams issue the right information at the right time, to support decision making.

Therefore, in the EIR document you should clearly state the information required from each supplier, and quantify the information expected in terms of documents, file formats, software platforms to be used for information exchange, data security and so on and so forth. You should also define how and when information should be exchanged in the project life cycle. This will ensure that each team supplies the right information in the right format at the right time, helping in successful completion of the project.

These are the ways I found, using which you could implement BIM in your projects, and make infra-construction more efficient.

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