Evolution of BIM | CIM

BIM | CIM 1.0 – Modeling in a BIM | CIM Environment

Over the past several years, companies across the globe have made tremendous progress in fully supporting BIM | CIM and Digital Design and Delivery (DD&D) methods as a whole. Transitioning from 2D to 3D may have seemed like a long time ago, but often times doesn’t seem to have been fully embraced until fairly recently. Although major components included in our designs are being modeled in 3D, we have been somewhat hindered by limitations in Digital Design supported software solutions that would allow us to be in full BIM | CIM compliance throughout the project lifecycle.

We’ve also been witnessing, over the past few years in particular, the many advancements to AEC Technology-focused solutions that are transforming day-to-day processes that we utilize for Design, Review, Collaboration, Visualization, and Integration purposes. New technology-focused solutions offered can range anywhere from a simple add-on tool to extend current platform capabilities, to innovative automated solutions that will speed up current processes and drive consistency in everything we do, to new Industry adopted data exchange formats allowing for seamless integration across all (well most) major vendor products/platforms/technology solutions, even well beyond design.

That said, for us to be well prepared for this type of future, we must be equipped and understand how all new technological advancements will impact our core business from a Digital Design and Delivery standpoint moving forward. With that, we must ask ourselves a few questions:

  • The first big question is, “What is the best approach to incorporate a streamlined solution that is capable of such integrations?

Taking a huge step back, we must consider all formats in which we can properly exchange our design models and associated data. When repetitive use of specific design and collaboration tools are part of your everyday workflow, it’s way too easy to keep the blinders on and focus only on what is in front of you and only leverage what you know. Client project requirements have historically dictated preferences of vendor provided solutions and software applications to be leveraged throughout the project life cycle. From a Digital Design standpoint, there is typically a heavy focus on streamlining integrations between all applications being leveraged throughout the design and pre-construction collaboration phases of a project. Beyond Digital Design, there has been a separate focus on streamlined integrations with extended design software platforms and technologies supporting Construction Management lifecycles, AR/VR/MR integrations, Asset Management, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Twin and Operational lifecycles, etc. Instead of thinking about these as separate, or even siloed, technology solutions, we need to develop strategies from project startup that will enable streamlined integrations throughout the entire project life cycle.

  • The second big question is, “How can we maintain Digital Integrity of Design Models and associated Metadata, and which formats present optimal results of supporting all phases of a project life cycle?

We know there are many limitations when it comes to translating and transferring modeled components and associated metadata across many products and platforms. Some formats are easier to translate/transfer and are specifically tailored to work well with any one vendor’s solutions. But is that a reality? Can all project stakeholders be strapped down to leverage only one vendor’s solutions? Yes, there are some instances where this type of cohesion can occur, but those situations are very rare and certainly should not be considered as an end-all solution.

  • Going beyond the formatted exchange of file and associated metadata, another major question that needs to be considered is, “Where will this data reside, and how will it be managed thereafter?

When we think about what a current handoff process looks like, we tend to go back to the paper deliverable mindset where we can wash our hands of the product once delivered. As we start having discussions with all project stakeholders at project startup, and develop the workflow matrix detailing integrations required throughout the project life cycle, we also need to take into consideration the Common Data Environment (CDE) in which these model and data exchange files will reside and that will facilitate, and act as a gatekeeper for, continued maintenance and upkeep. CDE determinations can be equally as important as determining the data exchange format, as some CDEs are limited in file and data format integrations and support.

  • Another major question is “What new technology solutions will be present in the next 5, 10, 15 years from now that are not being considered at present time?

This one can be one of the more difficult questions to answer as BIM/CIM and VDC professionals alike have been extremely focused on constructing, reconstructing, and maintaining BIM | CIM designs using specific software and technology solutions they are most comfortable with, or are considered the safest. When looking at what other firms are doing across the industry throughout the world, there is an appearance that some are more advanced and risk-taking, where others are a bit more reserved in their technology adoption strategy and decision making. With the rapid rate in which AEC supporting technology solutions are evolving, there are steps we can take for us to lead the pack for our companies, stand out from our competition on a technology stage, and be more proactive and anticipatory of new technology solutions being introduced in the future. I see this as only improving everyone’s bottom line, increasing growth opportunities, and attracting talent at all levels.

BIM | CIM 2.0 – Data Modeling in a BIM | CIM Environment

Going beyond our age-old battle of deciphering whether BIM is a noun or a verb, we need to place an equally important emphases on the Information piece of BIM and have some real conversations about it. We’ve been hearing all over AEC that Data is the new Gold or Currency. Truth is, it’s always been there, we just haven’t been able to leverage Data to the extent of which we are able to, using today’s technology solutions on the market. Major vendors are recognizing this need as well and working collaboratively across AEC to adopt OpenBIM and OpenData integrated solutions that speed up technology migrating processes with minimal to no data loss through translations. Data itself has its own complexities associated with it, as it can come in many different shapes, sizes, and formats. BIM and CIM authoring tools are equipped with the ability to automatically associate metadata to modeled geometry in our software, but is it (always) the right information? Understanding downstream uses of our metadata is critical to setting up a Data Strategy and Execution Plan so we can determine if there is a need to develop custom data solutions, or if boxed data solutions will suffice. That said, many companies are finding that setting up a Data Strategy from the get-go will allow them to elevate their BIM designs, taking them to the next level, and become what we would consider these days as BIM compliant.

Like most strategies, setting up a Data Strategy begins with the framework. With the rapid growth in technology solutions supporting Data itself, we have just as many directions that we can take our Data being incorporated into our BIM | CIM designs as there are available technology solutions. Developing a Data Strategy is easier said than done, though, as there are many factors and phases that should be considered when it comes to executing a solid Data Strategy on our projects and best serving our clients and project stakeholders.

In the Data Strategy application and execution, one can recognize that there are some very basic phases of executing a Data Strategy. These basic phases can be further broken down into micro-phases depending on project requirements and scope, but at a very high-level we have:

  1. Data Strategy at Project Kick-Off – Establishing any project specific strategy at Kick-Off is critical to a successful implementation. Everything we know in AEC starts with a foundation and framework. This concept is no different as it relates to various project implementation strategies. Working collaboratively with your Clients, Owners, Contractors, and all additional anticipated project stakeholders at project initiation is critical to ensure that we are focusing our strategy on providing the right data and information needed for downstream use. Where we tend to fall short sometimes, is on the execution side and follow up throughout the entire design lifecycle, thus making the next phase equally as important.
  • Data Strategy Throughout Design – Identifying which data and information will be used for downstream use is a big step in the right direction, but execution and seeing that your strategy continues to live and breathe in the event that scope and requirements change is equally as critical. We all know that projects very rarely go from start to finish without any deviations, so making sure that we have additional back up plans to accommodate, and how quickly we can adjust, is definitely a huge consideration as well. Throughout the design process, we should also consider having several checks and balances in place to ensure we are staying on track. Checks and Balances in this phase alone has the potential to include anything from simply identifying a BIM | CIM Manager to defining Model and Data Validation procedures that automate conflict resolution processes.
  • Data Strategy Throughout Construction – Data and Information being leveraged throughout the Design phase has very specific purposes and can be leveraged in many different ways. Developing a Data Strategy for Construction really isn’t much different from a high-level concept, but, when you dive into the details, the overall intent and purpose can vary on many levels. Data embedded in these BIM | CIM designs through construction will often times require a completely different set of information that can increase efficiencies, be leveraged in industry leading construction technologies, and streamline the entire construction process from design handoff to operations.
  • Data Strategy Throughout Asset Management and Operations – Similar to our Data Strategy Throughout Construction, Data and Information being leveraged for Asset Management and Operational purposes comes with a completely different set of requirements, complexities and use cases. Data and Information tracked at this level can often times be a bit more granular, and, in some cases, be connected to sensor data to track asset properties such as strength, durability, functionality, maintenance, etc. In some cases, this information is leveraged to predict operational properties and can potentially be incorporated into new designs of the same space, essentially bringing this data and information full circle.

As we unpack all the intricacies, integrations, and downstream uses related to Data in Design, Construction, Asset Management and Operations, we’ll be able to make more informed decisions at project startup that will provide the biggest impact, and best serve our clients. That said, we welcome visitors to provide insight as to how you and others across AEC are implementing BIM | CIM 1.0 – Modeling in a BIM | CIM Environment and BIM | CIM 2.0 – Data Modeling in a BIM | CIM Environment, so that we can continue to learn from each other how best to implement and increase adoption of BIM | CIM processes, and position ourselves to embrace an OpenBIM and OpenData centric future.

Please reach out if you’d like to contribute to the discussion!

Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: