Building information modeling, or BIM, is a process of developing a building’s features digitally. The information and building model created from this process is used throughout the building’s lifecycle. BIM is most often implemented with BIM-specific software, like Revit and ArchiCAD.
One of the frequently touted benefits of BIM is that it can make construction processes safer. But what does that actually mean?
How can construction managers use BIM to alleviate construction risks?
Below, I will outline how BIM can make your worksite safer—both immediately and in the future.
1. BIM will help you plan for safety.
There are a litany of safety standards that apply specifically to the construction industry, largely dictated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Luckily, BIM can help with implementation. BIM can help plan and model tasks sequentially, eliminating common pain points that are largely unpredictable without the help of software. It also provides a visual representation of the building. In these BIM-based 4D models, construction planners can pinpoint potential hazards before they are problematic.
BIM also provides visual risk analysis and safety evaluations. It can produce detailed reports of site conditions for workers—a great tool for new construction workers who aren’t familiar with the work site.
Finally, BIM can offer granular detail about task-specific assignments. Construction managers can use this function to avoid hazards before the building process has even begun.
2. BIM can help construction managers limit negative project events.
BIM systems can integrate with construction management software, making it easier for construction managers to cost- and time-estimate their jobs.
BIM is most effective when paired with effective project management techniques so that managers can cut down on project delays or failures. BIM, overall, cuts down on project liability and risk to the construction firm.
For construction companies looking to implement BIM on more than just one project (why would you use BIM otherwise?), BIM can help reduce cost variability and time between projects.
3. BIM makes construction projects safer for the environment.
Are you a LEED lover? BIM can help construction planners forecast which LEED credits are attainable with a new project. When synced with green construction software, BIM can help identify how your firm can get bonus LEED credits for regional environmental priority.
Interested in more in-depth analysis of how “green” a project is? Certain BIM products, like Tally by Autodesk, can calculate your new building’s effect on the environment. Using such plugins with other BIM software can help architects choose which materials are best for the environment (and, best of all, compare the cost of those materials to non-sustainable resources).
4. BIM ensures the longevity of a building.
Because BIM virtually guarantees that the building’s design will be superior to a non-BIM building, the chance of errors dramatically declines.
Over time, it’s been proven that BIM increases construction efficiency. It also provides the backdrop for building improvements; once BIM has been set in place, it’s much easier for a new contractor to step in and remodel or improve a built building.
Not that BIM can’t be used for buildings that didn’t use BIM in its original construction. Retroactive use of BIM has been used in major projects including the renovation of an emergency room at an old hospital. In this particular project, BIM was used to maintain the integrity of the original medical center while also introducing an entire new wing to the hospital. Thus, BIM was effectively used to renovate a building and attain LEED Silver—an impossible feat without BIM technology.
Using building information modeling makes construction safer for construction workers, construction firms, the environment, and for buildings as a whole.
It’s a new(er) approach to construction that ultimately removes waste, saving everyone time and money.