What's BIM it for me? How can level 3 help you?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has already made a huge impact to the construction industry, and with BIM level 2 laying the foundations for level 3, it’s important that we get to grips with the technology before we move forward.

BIM level 2 mainly involves the use of 3D CAD files. These files are embedded with technical details so designers, consultants and engineers can see how a unit or system works and how it should be operating within a whole building before it’s installed. At present, BIM is used solely for the design and construction of a building without providing any obvious benefits to the end user. But that could be about to change.

BIM level 3 may only be loosely defined, but it is likely to aim for a more collaborative and integrated approach to design and construction in order to optimise the running of a building as a whole. Information will be shared by everyone involved in a project, whether it be a designer, an installer, a consultant, a facilities manager or an end user. This will provide full visibility of a project’s progress and could even include critical information such as maintenance schedules.

Practice makes perfect

The ability to plan a building’s lifespan has great benefits for all parties, it is just case of getting used to the technology. Once people are familiar with BIM, projects should be cheaper, run more efficiently, and installation time should be shorter. Once level 3 is actioned, the actual running of a building should also be cheaper and more efficient. A CHP servicing schedule in a hotel, for example, will result in a better performing plant.

Reaping the rewards

A common concern associated with BIM is that it adds on design time at the beginning of a project which can be hard to cost for. However, taking the time to have a thorough planning process in place will speed up the installation and make it a much smoother process as any issues can be changed on the digital model before reaching site. It could be argued that it’s a case of short term pain for large, long term gains.

There is more work to be done

Everyone has a different idea of what BIM should look like, particularly when it comes to level 3. It is subjective and a lack commonality on what to expect makes it difficult for projects to see the benefits. Although taking on board BIM can be daunting, I’ve found that those who have taken the leap are already reaping the rewards.

Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial and Industrial.