BIM, or Building Information Modeling, provides the most detailed asset information to ensure collaborative, yet efficient, planning, design, construction, and maintenance for buildings of all sizes. In this blog, we’ll discover what BIM is, its benefits, and Building Information Modeling practical uses. We will also explore Asset Information Models (AIM) and how they can support ongoing management of enterprise building management and operations.
So, what is Building Information Modeling? BIM?
Across the globe, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is used as the standard approach of creating and managing information for a built asset. Highly detailed asset information is used to create 3D (AIM) models with information gathered from site audit, 3D Laser Scanning, Photogrammetry, or Reality Capture. That information is used to create a digital twin rich with metadata to provide asset owners, designers, developers, planners, and property managers with detailed facts about building assets. From the planning and design phase of a project, throughout construction, and well into an assets operational lifecycle, BIM is without a doubt the most effective & efficient way to retain asset information.
What to do with this information?
The information mentioned above isn’t just for record keeping; it is actionable in many instances. BIM receives praise in providing data for renovation projects of existing buildings. BIM/AIM models are built using intelligent objects that retain metadata specific to that unique object, respectively. These intelligent objects are able to store data in such a way that if a single element is changed for one object, the entire model can reflect those changes. This allows collaboration to occur throughout the entire development project permitting architects, designers, engineers, contractors, construction crews, and project managers to remain coordinated on their specific tasks & roles. Additionally, quality building data can save you time, reduce cost, and improve site safety.
Additionally, BIM data has uses in leisure and future thinking technology. These models provide all of the necessary metadata to build foundations for video game models and can provide lifelike details to in-game graphics. If we really want to look into future technology, it’s hard to ignore the applications BIM/AIM provides for Virtual Reality walkthroughs. Imagine strapping on your latest VR headset and walking through a building that is in early construction phases, or touring a wedding venue without leaving your living room. This technology begs the question “how will BIM play a role in the Metaverse?” PMI is already looking in that direction as we have already completed projects for these types of implications.
For owners/operators seeking the holy grail digital twin, you must first create the AIM. AIM is the acronym “Asset Information Model”. You might be asking, “Wasn’t the dream of BIM to be that?” Of course BIM, Building Information Modeling, does inherently hold information at any point in its lifecycle. Unfortunately, the source of asset data is often default values or something downloaded from the internet to save time. The challenge is to specify data input and reporting in a meaningful way for AEC without disrupting cost or schedule.
The PMI team has been empowering building stakeholders to advocate for themselves on two digital fronts. The first is managing their AEC supply chains to deliver the quality of 3D data to fit the needs of facilities management. The second empowerment is a path to convert all the other structures in the enterprise that are past the design and construction lifecycles. It’s notable that both of these types of transformation share a common foundation. That foundation is predictable data that is interoperable. Asset data at all stages of the building lifecycle have commonality. The ideal BIM requirements focus on what those common aspects are and also understand what enterprises have unique needs for operating a building. PMI has termed our process to define those requirements as Enterprise Facilities Integration (EFI). Once a guideline for integration is established, owners can begin to see a digital transformation that is interoperable and at a foundation for higher levels of multi-use values.
What is “good data” and why is it important to target how it will be used? Defining the end goals (target usage) is key to understanding the data specifications for asset information models (AIM) at a foundational level. Something to consider is that good data can add a variety of ROI and it doesn’t need to be BIM if you don’t plan on re-engineering.
3D Virtual Tours – Data Integration Example
As a complement to implementing Laser Scanning and Scan to BIM efforts, PMI recently started providing data integrated Matterport as a complement to high-end scanning and Revit modeling. These Matterport virtual tours can allow our clients to have “virtual” visibility of a site throughout the building lifecycle. The spatial data can be integrated with information and linked to other data. I see the same potential for the “Virtual Tour” level of technology in terms of integration. While not as accurate as a point cloud, it can be a useful tool for record information. In the example below the embedded data is serving space planning as you hover over a workstation. It could just as easily be integrated with links to booking software in an agile workspace or equipment data and maintenance information.
Record Revit model – Data Integration Example
The 3D model lifecycle can consider Facilities Management from its early inception. The example below is a project PMI is modeling with TMC Drafting Services for John Deere and has little existing data. One thing that was acquired from the terrestrial scanning was the ability to read the equipment tags/QR codes captured in the scan. These tags could have initially come from a mechanical engineer as a mark for the purpose of scheduling. However, the potential for interoperability in the life of the plant becomes possible because good data establishes relationships and database connectivity. What would it take for a large enterprise to establish one consistent piece of information (Primary key) for all forms of information on any given asset? I truly don’t know, but establishing a standard for BIM to PDF cut sheet names might make nailing a record model a whole lot easier.
Hold PMI to a standard when we commission your data. In fact, hold all your consultants to that same standard. We can help you develop that standard as we are with TMC/John Deere and other clients. My team is acutely aware of the whitewashing of the term digital twin. However, we know the proof is in the data and the potential for interoperability. Don’t even get me started on the perception of the “LOD” levels and how it equates to the usefulness of models in the hands of building owners. That is too often qualified by visual detail and the type of consultant or contractor turning over a model. “LOI” is what really matters for owners. “Level of Information” can be its highest value in the most basic LOD100 model or even the virtual tour example above. In fact for the owner and FM managers who don’t deploy the highest end workstations, having something light and data-rich would serve a higher value.
A great starting place to see where your current BIM data is at on an LOI scale is to open the MEP model and try to export just the equipment to COBIE. How clean does it look? What is COBie? That is a topic for another blog.
In today’s post, we are going to dive deep into what it means to have a “clean” model and share some of the principles that guide PMI when completing models for our customers. Whether you are working in traditional CAD or a full digital twin BIM a clean model will function well on your project, minimizing the time taken to rework data as the project progresses.
Why a Clean Model?
A Model is clean if it can be understood easily – by everyone on the team. With understandability comes readability, changeability, extensibility, and maintainability. All the things needed to keep a project going over a long time without accumulating up a large amount of technical debt.
As terrestrial scanning becomes more common within the AEC industry a new challenge has emerged. What do we do with all the scan data?
Once you’ve completed the field scanning there are a number of ways the scan data can add value to your project. From the most basic, as a visualization tool, to the very complex, achievement of design certainty and elimination of field orders.
The simplest way to use scan data is as a visualization tool. The scans can be posted online and reviewed as a 3D images all within a web browser with no special add-ons. You can even take simple dimensions. This is a great first step into having scanning provide positive results for your project with very little training.
Although typically converted to 3D it is possible to convert scan data into 2D as well. The best decision will be governed on what is right for your project. 2D Layouts from Scan Data On some projects it can make sense to simply convert the laser scan data to 2D layouts, sections, and elevations. This is epically helpful when you have a tight timeline or a team which is not yet comfortable with 3D workflows.
3D Model Development
It is now possible to develop 3D models to any LOD in almost any format. Although some automated tools exist most model geometry is still created using tracing techniques. Cost effective options of generating 3D models typically involve having portions of the model completed by overseas partners.