Written by Pat Keaney, Director, AEC Collaboration Products
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is playing an increasingly central role in construction planning and management, with more than 50 percent of American contractors declaring themselves devotees of the process. An intelligent model–based process, BIM enables contractors to more insightfully create and manage building and infrastructure projects that offer faster, more sustainable, and more economical solutions, all with less environmental impact.
As construction firms more fully adopt BIM, they are faced with additional challenges, including determining what should be done with the volumes of data created by the BIM process and how to manage that data across disparate project teams. It’s clear a new approach is necessary, one that would help to:
· Improve project quality and outcome through more-informed decision making
· Enable timely, profitable project delivery through improved insight and predictability
· Enhance operational reliability and efficiency
It is no secret that modern, multidisciplinary teams can now bring together the talents of professionals from across the office, across the country, or around the world. That being the case, it becomes imperative that construction firms and their partners fully integrate effective collaboration and data management tools into the BIM workflow. The Autodesk vision calls for project teams to have a more complete, accurate, digital view of their project, with full access to information across the project lifecycle, from wherever they need it, the office, the web, the field. Autodesk calls this interconnected approach “BIM 360.”
A successful BIM 360 implementation entails the following components.
Construction Workflow Integration
Construction firms should invest in an intuitive data management solution that integrates into existing BIM workflows and with current products. Firms should provide remote access to project models and documentation, together with the ability to use cloud-based, more secure information exchange and mobile access for a holistic offering.
A BIM 360 ecosystem requires the integration of multiple models and thousands of drawings necessary to describe a modern, complex project. Integration of the models enables real-time access to the latest information, easier simulation, and faster and more efficient collaboration.
In addition to digital models and drawings, construction projects also produce countless documents: contracts, deliverables, spreadsheets, bid documents, photos, emails, requests for information (RFIs), and more. The ability to more securely store and manage this documentation is critical.
Perhaps more than any other factor, successful projects require agile, connected, and informed teams. Firms need to use the Internet and social media to assist project teams in sharing schedules, collaborating on details, and actively working to resolve issues as quickly as possible.
By using an approach that reflects Autodesk’s BIM 360 vision for integrated, easy-to-deploy collaboration, data, and lifecycle management, rather than overly complex and disconnected data management and collaboration tools, construction firms are better positioned to successfully rise above and stay ahead of the competition.
 “Business Value of BIM in Europe,” SmartMarket Report, McGraw Hill Construction 2010.